A Battle of Mythical Proportion Paiting: The Horrors of War By: Peter Paul Ruben

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War and peace, love or hate, good verses evil are all analogies that epitomize the father of all conflict.

Peter Paul Rubens' oil on canvas piece "The Horrors of War" was completed in 1638 in Florence, Italy.

Rubens uses allegory to convey to his audience the effects of war. Greek mythological figures struggle, grasp, and fall as they "dance across the canvas." In the background is a distant battlefield. Figures hover overhead and objects scatter the floor. You cannot deny this confusion represents an opposition too great to calm.

Rubens portrays the disarray that accompanies societies thrown into the struggles of war. His work suggests the countless oppositions that surround wartime and the destruction that follows.

Rubens uses an entanglement of figures to represent confusion and discord. The man carrying a bloody sword in the foreground being restrained by a woman is a definite symbol of the disagreement of going to war.

The angelic cupids flying overhead and tugging at the woman also are the resistance of battle. The demon-like figures on the right could also personify the evils of conflict. Men, women, and children have fallen to the ground; some with ghastly looks on their faces. Mothers hold tightly to their children representing the maternal instinct to protect their children against danger. At the same time as a woman looks back at the battleground, Rubens allows you to imagine the expression on her faceless body. It makes sense to say there is sadness, a dread, even a madness encompassing them all. The objects that scatter the floor are evidence of the destruction. The fallen and trampled bodies are further proof of the devastation that will continue long after the battles.

There is a definite contradiction in the painting between two opposing sides of war and peace. Rubens...