vol. XXIX – p. 137

Camilla Cavicchi
Rubens et l’Italie: la musique des mythes et des passions

Abstract: The representation of music is a frequent and meaningful element in the pictorial output of Peter Paul Rubens, due especially to his interest in figurative themes related to classical mythology. Although Rubens did not write about music in his copious correspondence, three circumstances at the time of his travels in Italy may provide us with relevant clues for better understanding Rubens’s involvement in music, namely: the musical festivities for the Florentine marriage of Maria de’ Medici (October 1600); a possible meeting between Rubens and Monteverdi in Mantua (1600–07); and the musical sensibility of the painter when he copied a subject from Titian, his ideal model. Analysis of Rubens’s paintings with musical themes reveals that the diachronic function of music, apart from evoking the narrative time-frame of the image, aids in specifying the factual time of hic et nunc; as such, music helps to set the scene in a defined time, making the image more incisive and eloquent. While engaging with these artworks, the eyes ultimately trigger and stimulate the internal hearing of the observer.