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The Prado has the largest collection of works by Rubens in the world. We took the decision to present this collection
in its entirety in the Museum, to be on display for three months in the temporary exhibition galleries. The aim was to encourage visitors to come closer and learn more about the artist who was by far the most famous, celebrated and influential in Europe in the first half of the 17th century.
The installation of the exhibition is unusual. This is because the paintings have been hung much closer together than is normal in the present day.
Historically, paintings were hung close together on walls
and the practice of spacing them out is a relatively recent one, creating a hierarchy and giving them space on the walls so that they can be seen more easily.
Nymphs and satyrs are the subject of many of Rubens late works. They are contradictory figures expressive of a tension that creates life and dynamism.
The nymphs are beautiful young women who are also chaste. The satyrs are half-human, half-animal creatures,
lascivious wood-dwellers that constantly pursue the chaste nymphs. From this dichotomy springs life, arising from the tension between beauty and chastity: love and beauty generating desire on the one hand
and chastity on the other. Ultimately this is Rubens message in his works from the last period of his life
What we find is a type of exaltation achieved fundamentally through love and life, with life as a constant, continually self-generating force.