Rubens'oil sketches for the Achilles Series: a focus on the imprimatura layer and drawing material
In 2004 an exhibition on the Achilles Series of eight tapes tries, for which Rubens made the designs, was held in the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam and the Museo Nacional Del Prado in Madrid. The fascinating story of the creative process, starting with Rubens' skilful oil sketches and the transition via modello to tapestry, is carefully described in the accompanying catalogue. The seven sketches of the Achilles series in the collection ofthe Museum Boijmans van Beuningen were restored prior to the exhibition, which provided an opportunity for research. During treatment, samples were taken from four panels (fig. 1-4) to examine the layer build-up and analyse the pigments and drawing material. Scrapings were taken to analyse the binding medium. The results ofthis research, which focussed on Rubens' use of a streaky imprimatura as a preparatory layer, as well as his choice ofdrawing material, will be discussed and illustrated in this article. Recently, interest was raised in Rubens' painting technique and the streaky imprimatura in particular. We hope that this article, though limited to the findings on the Achilles series, will contribute to the already existing technical information on this subject.
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Boersma, A, van Loon, A, & Boon, J. J. (2007). Rubens'oil sketches for the Achilles Series: a focus on the imprimatura layer and drawing material. ArtMatters, 4, 82–89.