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Current time:0:00Total duration:3:55

Video transcript

we're in the Pitti palace in Florence looking at the consequences of war by peter paul rubens it's a big painting full of very large incredibly energetic figures Mars heading off to war being egged on by the fury Alecto and Venus the goddess of love trying desperately to stop him an allegorical figure of Europe flings her arms up in despair on the left and below allegorical figures representing the arts are about to be trampled by a war there's clearly a message here yeah I think so this was commissioned by a Flemish member of the Medici Court during the Thirty Years War time when Europe was experiencing enormous suffering and the consequences of war couldn't have been more clear you can see who these figures are being is beautiful in the classic rubenesque pose with a twisted torso reaching out look at the colors of her body yeah she's got greens and blues in her flesh look at the way her right arm stretches out she's holding back her lover Mars holding his right arm but she reaches out to pull Alecto the fury away from her lover and to detach him and to change this momentum Alecto himself is insane look of his eyes he reminds me the work that Goya will do yeah he looks absolutely mad and you get a sense immediately when you look at this painting of a contrast between the beauty of Venus and the madness and the ugliness of Alecto and therefore the horrors of war personified electives terrified fury Mars looking back at Venus and then the tears that are welling up in europe's eyes all of these are set against each other creating this over-the-top emotion you want to feels Europe's pain Venus's attempts to stop Mars and to detach Alecto are totally in vain Mars looks determined he looks back at Venus but he doesn't seem to feel much remorse there is already blood dripping from his sword pointing to the Arts that as you said are about to be trampled among them you can see perhaps an architect holding a compass you can see that Mars is boot is trampling a book a lute the musical instrument but its neck has been broken and so you see the costs both culture and also to human life if you look just past those allegorical figures and see the two figures perhaps a mother holding a child and there's real terror there but one sense is overall the inevitability of war or human beings you know this is this is an unstoppable force and all of the foreshortening that Rubens gives us especially of the allegorical figures on the lower right indicates the hopelessness of the situation things can spill out fall down pour over and the power of Mars in this sharp diagonal from lower left to upper right is completely unstoppable there's an incredible kind of momentum the words that you are using to describe it seem absolutely appropriate to me there's a kind of momentum a kind of energy a kind of inevitability and the brushwork itself the colors the composition and the madness of the storm on the right all of the speaks to the overwhelming tragedy inevitability the horror of war