Rubens: Reuniting the Great Landscapes ★★★★★ The Wallace Collection - FREE | Jun 3 - Aug 15, 2021


Peter Paul Rubens' huge landscape paintings, A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning and The Rainbow Landscape, both of which date from about 1636, haven't been exhibited together for almost 200 years. Having been beautifully restored and conserved, they are reunited at last in a great cooperation between the National Gallery and The Wallace Collection. It has to be said that The Rainbow Landscape outshines its companion with a breathtaking and exuberant use of light and colour. Bursts of sunshine illumine the trees, the energetic ducks, the cattle and cheerful peasants: a tremendous joie de vivre leaps from the panels Rubens paints on. The restoration enlivens the skies and also allows us to see deep into the shade of the woods. Het Steen was Rubens' lavish country home and the painting allows us to glimpse how well Rubens lived in this rural idyll which offered a peaceful vista across the lush farmland. We appear to see these landscapes from the point of view of a bird in flight, and they display a great abundance of nature with confident brush strokes providing exquisite swathes of radiant colour. A short but fascinating film accompanies the exhibition and points out how the works were expanded with extra panels being added at each side to include the livestock and humans. Seeing these fabulous paintings displayed so well is really welcome; nobody interested in the works of the greatest artists should miss this small but important show.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Image: Peter Paul Rubens, The Rainbow Landscape, c.1636. © The Trustees of the Wallace Collection, London

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