Added: June 3, 2017 – Last updated: June 3, 2017


Author: Margaret D. Carroll

Title: Painting and Politics in Northern Europe

Subtitle: Van Eyck, Bruegel, Rubens, and Their Contemporaries

Place: University Park, PA

Publisher: Penn State University Press

Year: 2008

Pages: xx+ 260pp.

ISBN-13: 9780271029542 (hbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9780271029559 (pbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 17th Century | European History: Belgian History | Representations: Art / Peter Paul Rubens


Link: (Free Access)


Author: Margaret Carroll, Art Department, Wellesley

Abstract: »Chapter 4 examines the ways in which the vogue for rape imagery in early modern European courts—exemplified by Giovanni da Bologna’s Rape of a Sabine and Peter Paul Rubens’s Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus—is consonant with a dawning recognition of the centrality of violence in human and political life. These works are consonant with the revival of Aristotelian arguments that affirmed the coercive power of rulers over their subjects, of masters over slaves, and of men over the women who bear their children.« (Source: Margaret D. Carroll. »Introduction.« Painting and Politics in Northern Europe: Van Eyck, Bruegel, Rubens, and Their Contemporaries. By Margaret D. Carroll. University Park 2008)


  List of Illustrations (p. ix)
  Acknowledgments (p. xvi)
  Introduction (p. xvii)
  1 The Merchant’s Mirror: Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait (p. 2)
  2 Breaking Bonds: Marriage and Community in Bruegel’s Netherlandish Proverbs and Carnival and Lent (p. 28)
  3 The Conceits of Empire: Bruegel’s Ice-Skating Outside St. George’s Gate in Antwerp and Tower of Babel (p. 64)
  4 The Erotics of Absolutism: Rubens and the Mystification of Sexual Violence (p. 88)
  5 “Womanliness as a Masquerade”: The Case of Marie de Médicis (p. 102)
  6 The Nature of Violence: Animal Combat in the Seventeenth Century (p. 162)
  Notes (p. 185)
  Bibliography (p. 235)
  Index (p. 254)

Description: » Painting and Politics in Northern Europe offers a chronological account of political engagement in works by the early modern Northern European painters Jan van Eyck, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens, and Frans Snyders. Offering fresh interpretations of canonical paintings, Margaret Carroll illustrates how these artists registered their pictorial responses to the political events and debates of their day. The imagery of gender and power was often intertwined with these debates. Considering a range of works, including Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait, Bruegel’s Netherlandish Proverbs, and Rubens’s Life of Marie de Médicis series, Carroll examines the ways in which these Netherlandish painters seized on that imagery and creatively transformed it into the materials of art.
The narrative follows the way painters responded to the emergence of “modern” theories of politics and natural law from the classical and medieval tradition. Carroll begins by addressing paintings that identify the natural order with consensual social relations in a stable political hierarchy, then turns to paintings that stress the struggle for mastery in a perilous and unstable world. These paintings may be valued not merely as historical artifacts of a bygone era but as interventions in a cultural discourse that continues to this day. « (Source: Penn State University Press)

Reprint of: Carroll, Margaret D. »The Erotics of Absolutism: Rubens and the Mystification of Sexual Violence.« Representations No. 25 (1989): 3-30. Bibliographic Entry: Info


Lusheck, Catherine H. Renaissance Quarterly 62(1) (Spring 2009): 263-265. – Full Text: JSTOR (Restricted Access), University of Chicago Press (Restricted Access)

Nuechterlein, Jeanne. Renaissance Studies 24(2) (April 2010): 324-326. – Full Text: Wiley Online Library (Restricted Access)

Sawkins, Annemarie. The Sixteenth Century Journal 41(1) (Spring 2010): 285-287. – Full Text: JSTOR (Restricted Access)

Zorach, Rebecca. The Art Bulletin 92(1-2) (March-June 2010): 103-106. – Full Text: JSTOR (Restricted Access), Taylor & Francis Online (Restricted Access)

Wikipedia: History of Europe: History of Belgium | History of painting: Flemish Baroque painting | 17th-century Flemish painters: Peter Paul Rubens / The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus