May 1 1816: Lord Byron on Rubens

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…  and as for churches, and pictures, I have stared at them till my brains are like a guide-book:—the last (though it is heresy to say so) don’t please me at all. I think Rubens a very great dauber, and prefer Vandyke a hundred times over (but then I know nothing about the matter). Rubens’ women have all red gums and red shoulders—to say nothing of necks, of which they are more liberal than charming; it may all be very fine, and I suppose it may be Art, for ‘tis not Nature.

—  Lord Byron to Augusta Leigh, May 1 1816.

– as for Rubens – I was glad to see his tomb on account of that ridiculous description (in Smollet’s P. Pickle –) of Pallet’s absurdity at his monument – but as for his works – 2:2 and his superb “tableaux” – he seems to me (who {by the way} know nothing of the matter) the most glaring – flaring – staring – harlotry impostor that ever passed a trick upon the senses of mankind – it is not nature – it is not art – with the exception of some linen (which hangs over the cross in {one} his pictures) which to do it justice looked like a very handsome table cloth – I never saw such an assemblage of florid night=mares as his canvas contains – his portraits seem clothed in pulpit cushions.

Lord Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, May 1 1816.

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