Paintings by Peter Paul Ruben and Nicolas Poussin - Essay Example

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The essay compares two painting by Peter Paul Ruben and Nicolas Poussin. In Peter Paul Ruben’s The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus, the two women portrayed in the picture are represented as helpless victims to the lustful wantings of the two men…
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Paintings by Peter Paul Ruben and Nicolas Poussin
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RUNNING HEAD: Comparison of Paintings Comparison and Contrast of Paintings by Peter Paul Ruben and Nicolas Poussin BY YOU YOUR ACADEMIC ORGANIZATION HERE
Comparison and Contrast of Paintings by Peter Paul Ruben and Nicolas Poussin
In Peter Paul Ruben’s The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus, the two women portrayed in the picture are represented as helpless victims to the lustful wantings of the two men who have obviously taken an interest in raping the daughters. They are shown nude, as if they are calling out to someone (perhaps divinity) to save them from this maddening situation as they are hoisted into the arms of their captors. This particular piece of art was painted in the early 1600s, which was a time where men and women considered an overweight female to be a sign of great beauty and delight, which is far different from the social evolution of today which applauds slender and well-toned females.
Both of the women in Ruben’s picture are also of a higher social class, which is evident by their well-kempt hairstyles and the flowing, silky fabrics which lie at feet of one of the daughters. From the painted image, both young women look to be somewhat naive as if they were taken by surprise by their raping captors during what might have been a leisurely picnic or stroll through the countryside. Clearly, by the expression on both of the young women’s faces, they are not delighted by being chosen for this activity and likely have no previous experience with being the objects of desire by men who are not of their higher social class.
The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus also seems to illustrate that Rubens sees women as a lesser being than men, in terms of physical strength and in the expression of personal desires. It seems that Rubens, perhaps based on the social culture of the time, views women as merely objects of desire who have no rights to defend themselves and should be recognized as extremely inferior to the yearnings of warrior men. This is evident by the look of crazed passion on the faces of the women’s captors and the expressions of dissatisfaction on the faces of the daughters. Clearly, in this picture, the sexual power hierarchy favors the male persona and the rapists hold all of the power over their lesser female victims. It is also evident, based on how the photo portrays both sexes, that such activities are acceptable for men and that women should simply be subservient to these raging desires for sexual conquer.
In completely opposite accord, Nicolas Poussin’s The Rape of the Sabine Women, seems to view women and men in a different light, perhaps more as social equals in society. The women in this painting are nearly fully-clothed and are being chosen for sexual conquest by warrior who are nude. In the background of the photo, there is clearly some sort of battle raging (or just shortly after), while at the same time a sexually-charged warrior has selected his victims for sexual behaviors from the midst of the wartime environment. In this picture, the women look to be presenting themselves for sexual conquest as a sort of prize, with one woman pulling on the top of her gown as if to beg for her to be the first selected.
The social status of the women does not appear to be of the higher echelon of wealth and influence, but rather as a sort of concubine troop which travels with warrior groups solely as a means to gratify the sexual needs of their warrior comrades. The women do not appear to be, at all, surprised or unhappy about the situation, but are making a spectacle of their desire to be selected by a trusted and respected warrior.
Unlike Ruben’s painting, Poussin’s representation illustrates that the sexual politics of satisfying warrior desires is a natural evolution of the raging flames within the male spirit which occur as a result of battlefield situations. The women are not innocent or naive victims, but seem to have been eagerly awaiting this moment to be swept away by a strong, masculine figure. Poussin’s painting also seems to represent that slender women were preferred stock for sexual conquest, which is also another significant difference between the two paintings. This
clearly illustrates what drives sexual preferences in two very different time periods. In Poussin’s photo, neither the men nor the women illustrated are passive figures but are equally involved in holding power related to sexual activity. Read More
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