after Rubens: the strange story of the Samson and Delilah
 
 
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Part of what makes the Samson and Delilah so interesting as a work of art is the extreme disparity in the response it evokes from people - both those who have seen it perhaps just once, as well as scholars who may have studied it for half a lifetime.

Below you will find comments both for and against the attribution, as well as more general observations that visitors to the site have sent in. Please recommend the comments you find most interesting and let us know how you see it too.

You are viewing comments chronologically with the most recent first; you can also order them by the number of reader recommendations they have recieved.

Viewing comments 91 to 100 of 104
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Submitted: 27 October 2005, 11:32:05 PM
  You seem to have a very strong case. Well done !

Dino Joannides, London, UK

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Submitted: 27 October 2005, 7:21:43 PM
  Looking at this painting one gets the impression that the artist, whoever he was other than the master himself, made an agonizing effort - yet unsuccesfully - to make it look like a Rubens.

Stephanos Karaiskakis, Athens, Greece

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Submitted: 27 October 2005, 7:13:30 PM
  In the National Gallery painting there is a vulgar contrast between shadow and light unlike Rubens paintings where the light is brighter and the shadowy parts more profound and mysterious. This painting is flat and not redolent of fineness.

Pierretta Lorenzatou, Athens, Greece

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Submitted: 27 October 2005, 6:20:03 PM
  I am not a Rubens expert, though I was once a colleague of the late Dr Fritz Grossmann, who knew Dr Burchard well.

Viewing the Samson with others we felt that the flesh painting was uncharacteristic of teven the other Rubens with which the National Gallery compares the Samson.

Dr Selby Whittingham, Secretary/Editor, The Watteau Society, London, England

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Submitted: 27 October 2005, 4:37:17 PM
  If I were a member of a jury, I would say that the case has been made beyond reasonable doubt that the painting in the National Gallery is not by Rubens

Barry Streater, Berkhamsted, England

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Submitted: 27 October 2005, 2:54:48 PM
  interesting.as i am sure you are aware rubens are difficult to "pin down". i also have a "rubens", one of several "versions" of the "christ child and infant john the baptist with angels" first of which is in vienna.

linton gee-turner, London, UK

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Submitted: 27 October 2005, 1:31:03 PM
  Very interesting. Whether or not it is a fake, I have learnt more about Rubens today than I would otherwise have done.

Marika Lemos, Barrister, London, UK

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Submitted: 26 October 2005, 3:33:39 PM
  As a painter I have been fascinated for more that thirty years by the phenomenon that is Rubens. I admit that I have not read all the books and documents that have been written on Rubens. Rather than spending endless hours reading all these publications, I have concentrated my energy directly on his paintings. I have visited all the museums in the world exhibiting important Rubens paintings, and I have learned that looking at Rubens’ work is infinitely more important than reading all the books written about him and his work.

My own book "Rubens, Prophet of Modern Art", published in 1984, represents a painter’s view on this unique Master. I intended it as an complementary addition to the numerous studies and books written by art historians. Based on this book I also wrote a screenplay for an art film on Rubens (2 x 55 min), which was broadcast by Flemish television (BRTN) in 1991 and has been awarded numerous international prizes.

These years of personal study of the paintings themselves have trained my eye more and more in recognising his authentic brushstroke. No other painter has such a powerful brushstroke and its power is intensified further still by the volcanic energy of his compositions. Time and again, his composition is “well-ordered, painted with an unbridled fantasy” (Frans Baudouin). These characteristics are also omnipresent in his oil-sketches – indeed I believe that close study of the oil-sketches offers a key to the genius of his large format paintings and even, ultimately, to questions of attribution.

A trained eye, acquainted with the oeuvre of the great master can see that the Samson and Delilah is clearly a copy (an accurate copy, mind you) from the original by Rubens. But however accurate or authentic it may seem, what makes Rubens unique and the thing that constitutes his signature, namely his powerful brushstroke, is just not present.

With great precision this study juxtaposes images of details from paintings from the real Rubens and details from this copy. The result of these comparisons is abundantly clear: not only Rubens’ unique brushstroke, but also the ‘skin’ and ‘coating’ of this brushstroke, are absent in the Samson and Delilah. They differ to such an extent with the authentic Rubens that one must be blind – whether purposefully or not – not to discern the differences.

Will experts and connoisseurs change their views after comparing them? I fear not, and the reasons are many. Some of them will base their interpretation – in good faith – on the judgment of their own eye as it has been trained, while others will simply put commercial considerations above the truth.

Harold Van de Perre, Painter, Writer & Filmmaker, Antwerp, Belgium

This comment has been recommended 1592 times.

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Submitted: 26 October 2005, 12:43:52 PM
  I have seen the painting many times in the National Gallery. I am a painter but , naturally, I am not an expert on Rubens.

In my opinion this painting is a bad painting, very poor in handling the paint and brush, the drawing is weak and the colours and shades are terrible. It is also a very unlucky one because it hangs together with some of Rubens' masterpieces. Finally it is very possible that you are right.

George Hadjimichalis, Painter, Athens, Greece

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Submitted: 26 October 2005, 12:18:48 PM
  Congratulations. Your website is wonderful and all over the world people ought to know. Thank you.

Argyro Kontaratou, Paros, Greece

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