Painting and the Counter Reformation in the Age of Rubens

Freedberg, David A.

This essay begins with an inescapable irony. To consider the problem of Flemish painting during the Counter Reformation is to deal with paintings that are almost entirely absent from the resent exhibition because they are too large to transport, or because they cannot be detached from their ecclesiastical context. But their background - political, religious, and theological - is of immense importance for an understanding of all picture making during the age of Rubens. Two events are crucial. Although they date from before his birth, they continued to affect the house of painting until long after his death. The first is the Council of Trent, which passed its decree on painting in 1563; the second the great outbreak of Iconoclasm that marked the effective beginning of the Revolt of Netherlands agains Spain in August 1566. Let us begin with the latter, not only because it is more dramatic, but because its immediate effects are clearer and easier to plot.

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Also Published In

The Age of Rubens
Museum of Fine Arts

More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Published Here
April 7, 2010