Although his popularity is eclipsed by Rembrandt today, Peter Paul Rubens was revered by his contemporaries as the greatest painter of his era, if not of all history. His undeniable artistic genius, bolstered by a modest disposition and a reputation as a man of tact and discretion, made him a favorite among monarchs and political leaders across Europe—and gave him the perfect cover for the clandestine activities that shaped the landscape of seventeenth-century politics.
In Master of Shadows , Mark Lamster brilliantly recreates the culture, religious conflicts, and political intrigues of Rubens’s time, following the painter from Antwerp to London, Madrid, Paris, and Rome and providing an insightful exploration of Rubens’s art as well as the private passions that influenced it.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Master of Shadows|
|Release Date: 10-20-2009|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||Master of Shadows|
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Master of Shadows
a novice without experience
You are going as official representative into Spain, a country different in her ways and customs from Italy and unknown to you. Furthermore, it is your first commission. Hence if you make a good showing in this office, as everybody hopes and believes, you will gain high honor; and so much higher, the greater the difficulties.
Sometime in the late spring of 1602-there is no record of exactly when-Vincenzo Gonzaga, the Duke of Mantua, decided it would be a good idea to send an extremely large gift to Philip III, the king of Spain. This was to be an act of considerable generosity, but not one motivated by pure altruism. To be a minor European monarch in the seventeenth century was to live in fear of Spain's pitiless and well- disciplined tercios. Those professional armies, bristling with artillery, pikes, and Toledo steel, and drilled in formations that seemed well-nigh invincible, made Spain the most potent military force on the Continent. Spain's possessions encompassed much of Italy, including Lombardy, Mantua's neighbor to the west. Vincenzo, no fool, eyed Spanish power with a healthy wariness. Like Philip, he was of Habsburg blood, but attachment to Europe's foremost dynasty did not guarantee the autonomy of his duchy. It was therefore only prudent that Vincenzo place himself squarely within Philip's good graces, as the young king was new to his throne.
Philip had a reputation as something of a sportsman, so Vincenzo tailored his offering accordingly. The centerpiece of the gift was to be a plush riding carriage driven by six of the finest horses from the duke's stable, revered across Europe for its thoroughbr...