Rubens: Reuniting the Great Landscapes, Wallace Collection Review
In this tiny but powerful exhibition the Wallace Collection has – for the first time in 200 years – reunited two of Rubens's great late landscape paintings which were originally intended to be hung together: 'A view from Het Steen in the Early Morning' and 'The Rainbow Landscape' both painted in 1636.
To be honest, we assumed that a Rubens exhibition wouldn't be child-friendly and that the press view would simply be a lovely opportunity for us to see the show before it opened to the public. It turns out we were very wrong about that.
Not only does the exhibition reunite this rare companion pair after so long, but it is also the first opportunity to see the National Gallery's painting (A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning) newly cleaned and restored after extensive conservation work completed during the 2020 (no mean feat given the Lockdown).
We would recommend watching the exhibition film showing at the Wallace before looking at the pictures in the main room. You might want to watch it before you go – see below. The film gives you a really good understanding of the history and context of these two panoramic landscapes.
Each picture is brimming with life and bustling activity. Hung very low they are perfect for children
to spot so many details: animals (dogs, horses, birds, cattle), fields, villages, upland, lowland,
hunters, haymakers, carters. There might only be two paintings in this exhibition but you could stand and look at them for hours.
If we expected these paintings to be hung next to each other, it is totally correct that a decision was taken to position them on opposite walls. They are, after all, separate works of art in their own right that have long only been seen apart. Hung as they are it allows you to concentrate on each individually as well as understand the links.
It is great to see two national museums working in such close collaboration with each other. And it is an unmissable opportunity to soak up the extraordinary vivid detail and breathtaking vastness of scope in these pictures in the same room. There is something for all ages here.
Rubens: Reuniting the Great Landscapes
The Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1U 3BN
3rd June to 15th August
Book your timed ticket on their website wallacecollection.org
Entry is free with a £5 suggested donation.
Anya Waddington 3 June 2021