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Featured Grant​
History of Art
June 24, 2020

The Kress Foundation awarded the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco a grant of $8,700 in support of Early Rubens: A Symposium which took place in September 2019, in conjunction with the Early Rubens exhibition on view at the Legion of Honor. The following description of the international symposium was taken directly from the final report submitted by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

A man sits along in the midst of many lions. He claps his hands together and looks to the sky.

Peter Paul Rubens’s colossal painting Daniel in the Lions’ Den (ca. 1614 /1616) was on view at the Legion of Honor for the special exhibition Early Rubens. The work is in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, and is a favorite of visitors from across the country.

National Gallery of Art

Early Rubens: A Symposium gathered together a distinguished group of international museum curators and university professors to discuss crucial aspects of Rubens's art-making in the 1610s. Important issues in Rubens's early and mature work, such as collaborative production and artistic authorship, the role of the heroic figure in religious imagery, the potential of print media to make celebrities of living artists, and the impact of Caravaggio, were explored through a series of 25-minute illustrated lectures. Timed with the exhibition’s close, this event was free and open to the public.

A speaker stands at a lecturn in front of a screen filled with projected images of paintings by Rubens.
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
In addition to sharpening participants’ understanding of Rubens’s artistic and philosophical preoccupations in his formative mature period, the Early Rubens symposium also hopefully showed yet again the value for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in expanding programming into more scholarly arenas, including for new, local audiences.
Dr. Catherine H. Lusheck Associate Professor, Art History & Museum Studies, Faculty Chair, USF Honors College, University of San Francisco and symposium participant

The symposium expanded on new scholarship that had been commissioned for the accompanying exhibition catalogue and half of the participants were also catalogue contributors. Comprised of eight essays and catalog entries by curators and scholars from a range of institutions with extensive knowledge of Rubens’ art practice, the volume represents a significant contribution to the field of art history. Subjects included Ruben’s appropriation of the ancient world in his history paintings; commissions of religious art and management of his workshop during the Twelve Year’s Truce; the artist’s early involvement in printmaking; and a close study of The Massacre of the Innocents. Two essays from the catalogue were adapted as web articles and published on the “Dialogues” section of the exhibition homepage: