The perception of beauty is a unique subjective issue that intrigues philosophers and artists of all times. Nevertheless, artists’ attempts to summarize and calculate aesthetic principles of human nature depended on time and epoch. Baroque and Renaissance art helped to rediscover antique beauty of human body: gentle, tender, and non-perfect at the same time. Rubens was a famous artist whose perception of beauty was not typical for both movements perceiving beauty deeper than Baroque or Renaissance movement canons and being controversial at the same time. Depicting famous antique myth on his canvas, Rubens challenged the perception of beauty.
The majority of Baroque style masterpieces are devoted to Biblical stories and Catholic Church. Antique mythology was an important subject for Renaissance fine art. The antique canons of beauty were perceived by Renaissance art as perfect natural beauty that exists in absolute harmony of elements and proportion. Pretentiousness, immoderacy and luster of colors and forms were common for Baroque art. However, Rubens manages to mix antique mythology of Renaissance and Baroque brightness and colorfulness (Oppenheimer 25). This combination shows his own perception of Baroque art, people and generation who create Baroque perception of beauty.
Baroque art period goes side by side with new generation, formation of capitalistic society that creates its own perception of beauty: bright and colorful. Rubens expresses triumphant brightness of baroque art as the pomposity of goddess beauty that was judged by Paris only for the possibility to see the beauty of Helena: natural and modest. Baroque art is supposed to create artificial beauty that, according to Renaissance, cannot be compared with natural beauty created by God.
Supernal loveliness of three goddesses was undoubtedly shown in Judgment of Paris canvas. Rubens shows each of them as incredibly beautiful and delicate woman using soft colors and pouring light. The interaction of elements, shades and dull tones shows unique technique and plastic expression of the author (Lamb 41). Judgment of Paris was painted by the oil on panel and shows uncertainty and misshapen figures – these peculiarities are common for Baroque. However, characters of antique mythology are more typical of Renaissance art as the representation of natural beauty.
The subject of this antique myth is urgent nowadays
Women of all generations are ready to contest for the title of the most beautiful woman despite the fact that rewards are ambiguous, and there is nothing behind these titles. Moreover, according to the legend, Paris chose the goddess for her promised reward – love of the most beautiful girl who is not a goddess, whose beauty is far more noticeable for Paris. Other elements of this picture such as Gorgon depicted on the shield and the peacock reminds the viewers that appearance can be hollow and destructive. Gorgon, one of the most famous characters of Rubens’ canvas and other baroque painters was killed by the reflection of her appearance.
In modern society, women are used to fighting for artificial “Baroque” beauty using plastic surgery or make-up, getting closer to the beauty of Goddess, forgetting that their natural beauty becomes inapproachable.
In conclusion, it is important to mention that Rubens was devoted to not only the Baroque style. The mixture of styles is noticeable in his canvas Judgment of Paris that shows pomposity in bright colors, superficial beauty and tenderness of Renaissance, Antique mythology and dull shades. However, interaction between two opposite styles existed at that time is shown during the Judgment of Paris who, by choosing Venus, chooses Helena and natural beauty of Renaissance.