Mark Lamster | Essays

Adoration: Library Journal on Master of Shadows: "An Exceptional Book"


David Keymer gives a nice synopsis and very generous assessment of Master of Shadows appears in the forthcoming issue of Library Journal
This book relates the exceptionally active diplomatic career of acclaimed painter Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). It’s a story unknown to most readers, even admirers of Rubens’s work. Serving the kings of Spain but also the archduke and archduchess who governed the Spanish Netherlands, Rubens crisscrossed Europe for over 25 years, negotiating treaties and seeking accommodations among Europe’s sovereigns. Though in the top ranks of the Flemish bourgeoisie, Rubens was still only a commoner. That he was tapped to lead these diplomatic efforts testifies to his standing as both an artist and a man of personal qualities. His network of friends and correspondents put him in a unique position, but in the end, his efforts failed, swallowed up in the deluge of destruction of the Thirty Years’ War. Lamster explains all this without simplifying the labyrinthine politics of this tumultuous age. An added benefit is his appreciation of, and ease in explaining, the complex iconography and artistic values exposed to view in Rubens’s great artworks. VERDICT An exceptional book that should appeal to history lovers and art lovers alike.
Thank you Mr. Keymer!

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