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Delacroix on seeing a Rubens painting in Brussels


From a journal entry dated August 10, 1850:

“It is of his finest period; the half-tint in the underpainting is evidently used to give the modeling, and the bold touches of light and shade are laid into quite thick impasto, especially in the lights. How strange that I never noticed until now the extent to which Rubens proceeds by means of halftone, especially in his finest works! His sketches ought to have put me on the track. On contrast to what they say about Titian, he first lays in the tone of his figures which appear dark against the light tone. It also explains how, when he afterwards comes to put in the background, and in his urgent need to obtain his effect, he deliberately sets out to render the flesh tones exaggeratedly brilliant by making the background dark. The head of the Christ and that of the soldier descending thr ladder, the legs of the Christ and of the crucified thief are very strongly coloured in the preparation, and the lights are placed only in small areas. The Magdalen is remarkable for the following quality: you can see quite plainly that the eyes, the eyelashes, the eyebrows and the corners of the mouth are drawn on top of the underpainting, and while the paint was still wet, I think, contrary to Paolo Veronese’s usual practice.”
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