Point of view #18
Otto van Veen (1556-1629): Strong Independent Women: Amazons and Scythians
Point of View #18 showcases a painting »rediscovered« in the depot, a work by Otto van Veen who was Rubens’ last and most important teacher. It has not been on display since the eighteenth century – possibly because of its highly unusual subject matter, a celebration of strong, independent and courageous women. For a long time art historians were mystified by this exceptional depiction of confident women clearly at ease with their nudity; however, the arms scattered around in the foreground allow us to identify them as amazons.
Although we now know both the name of the artist and the subject matter, this work painted in Antwerp around 1600 still poses a number of fascinating questions: was the panel formerly in the collection of Emperor Rudolf II? What is the meaning of the monogram on the panel’s reverse? And is it possible that the young Rubens was involved in its production? Van Veen’s Amazons probably dates from the time Rubens’ worked in van Veen’s studio, making the painting a vital starting point for our understanding of the younger master’s early work. The composition will be included in our important upcoming Rubens exhibition where it will be shown together with early works by this exceptional Flemish painter, documenting the evolution of Rubens’ depiction of women.
The Picture Gallery has been staging Points of View since 2012, and the series documents its role as a place of research, scholarship and education. Three times a year these small exhibitions showcase a selected work from the collection, inviting visitors to see it with new eyes and presenting the results of recent research.
A small catalogue is published in conjunction with the exhibition.
We are deeply greatful to Ms. R.H. Quaytman, Galerie Buchholz and to Phileas – A Fund for Contemporary Art who generously supported the restoration of the painting.