QUARTER III MUSEUM REPORT
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
March 9th, 2017
AP Art History 8464-3
The Feast of Acheloüs by Rubens and Jan Breughel the Elder, 42½ x 64½ in, oil on wood, ca. 1615
AP Art History 8464-3
12 March 2018
Quarter III Museum Report
Rubens is one of the most notable artists from the Baroque period, specifically known for being a master in Flemish Baroque paintings. Rubens was inspired by Venetian paintings from the High Renaissance which focused on color, sensual figures, and a natural Arcadian background which are all aspects in a majority of his works. These very characteristics of Rubens’ work differed greatly from the previously popular Mannerist subjects, which led to his large group of followers, known as the Rubénists. The painting The Feast of Acheloüs portrays a mythological scene, originating from a story within Ovid’s metamorphoses, which gives the viewer only a glimpse of the ability of both Rubens as well as Breughel’s artistic genius.
The subject of The Feast of Acheloüs is, as mentioned before, a mythological scene. The table in the center is the focal point, as it has the most motion depicted. The figure at the head of the table is placed directly in the center of the piece itself and is presumably Acheloüs himself. This figure has all the attention – dramatic faces on both sides of him are looking at him absolutely shocked, especially the figure on his left. The wreath of what appears to be leaves as well as the pulsating blue drapery surrounding him also aid to him standing out. The figure at the end of the table has attention on him as well, whose red drapery clashes with the blue one covering Acheloüs, perhaps suggesting a conflict amongst the two. Additionally, this figure (who is named as Theseus in the label) is directly receiving two very disapproving looks; one from the man across from him, whose open mouth suggests a shocking appearance, and another from the man directly on his left who appears more disgusted. Theseus’ body is tuned almost parallel to the table, and his feet are placed in front of one another, which again may hint to the conflict between him and Acheloüs and it may be depicting Theseus about to flee. The scene at the table seems to resemble an everyday conversation but perhaps Acheloüs is exposing Theseus to the rest of the group, which results to the disapproving looks and fleeing.
Aside from the figures on the table, there are numerous figures around it paired together. The two figures on the very left are carrying in a vase (presumably to the table); interestingly, one figure is wearing the same rosy colored drapery Theseus is wearing, and the other is wearing the vivacious blue of Acheloüs. Perhaps these figures are seen together carrying the vase as a peace offering to the two who are in discord at the table. Additionally, there are two figures on the bottom left emerging from water. These figures are nude and carrying...