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Let This Be a Lesson: Lecture 5

Peter Paul Rubens, Hero and Leander, ca. 1604. Oil on canvas. Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of Susan Morse Hilles

Lecture 5

Against Nature: Peter Paul Rubens’s Hero and Leander

Friday, October 18, 2013, 1:30 pm

This painting is a showpiece of Rubens’s youthful brilliance and ambition. To picture the climax of the story, he paints a fierce storm and invents a large supporting cast of sea nymphs. What did these famous lovers do wrong, and what did their fate say to the artist’s audience?

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Lecture Video

John Walsh presents Let This Be a Lesson: Lecture 5.

Recommended Readings

Hans Vlieghe’s encyclopedia entry is an excellent summary by a leading authority on Peter Paul Rubens’s life and career, and its extensive bibliography is up to date. For the Gallery’s painting, Amy Golahny’s article is a thorough study of the picture, especially its influence on 17th-century writers; Marjorie E. Wieseman’s catalogue entry summarizes most of what is known. The David Jaffe and Elizabeth McGrath’s exhibition catalogue is very well illustrated and is the best study available of Rubens’s working methods. The Loeb edition of Callimachus and Musaeus includes the authoritative translation of the poem that inspired the painting.

To access subscription-only articles, or for assistance with any of the below materials, please visit the Nolen Center Library at the Yale University Art Gallery.

On the Artist

Vlieghe, Hans. “Peter Paul Rubens.” In Grove Art Online (by subscription only).
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On the Painting

Golahny, Amy. “Rubens’ ‘Hero and Leander’ and Its Poetic Progeny.” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (1990): 20–37.
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Wieseman, Marjorie E. The Age of Rubens. Exh. cat. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1993–94: no. 6.

Jaffe, David, and Elizabeth McGrath. Rubens: A Master in the Making. Exh. cat. London: National Gallery, 2006–7: no. 17.

On the Subject

Musaeus. “Hero and Leander.” In Callimachus: Aetia, Iambi, Hecale, and Other Fragments; Musaeus Hero and Leander. Trans. Cedric Whitman. Loeb Classical Library No. 421. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1973: 344–87.

Note: For the benefit of the lecture audience, we are supplying a recommended reading list as well as links to useful online sources. Any author or publisher who believes that his or her rights have been violated should contact Rights and Reproductions at the Yale University Art Gallery at yuagrights@yale.edu.