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Peter Paul Rubens gives us a lot to think about in his canvasses of rushing color, action, and puckered flesh, so it’s not surprising that his work as a diplomat and spy has been neglected. One of my goals in writing Master of Shadows was to fill that gap in the record. Here, after all, is an actual Old Master using actual secret codes, dodging assassination, plotting the overthrow of foreign governments, and secretly negotiating for world peace.
Certainly, a biographer could not ask for a more compelling subject. Rubens was a charismatic man of extraordinary learning, fluent in six languages, who made a fortune from his art. He never fit the paradigm of the artist as a self-destructive figure at odds with convention. More than one of his contemporaries actually thought his skill as a statesman surpassed his unmatched talent before an easel.
Though it is set four centuries ago, I believe readers will find the Rubens story deeply resonant with contemporary experience. Rubens was a moderate man in a dogmatic time, a pragmatist who spent much of his life working to end a seemingly intractable conflict driven by ideologues. In writing the book, I was routinely astonished by the eerie parallels between his time and our own. The political battles he fought naturally inform his paintings, many of which serve as meditations on the costs and ravages of war. In illuminating this history, I hope Master of Shadows will help modern audiences recapture some of the urgency and grandeur of his work--and his riveting life. --Mark Lamster
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This book is filled with fascinating information about the relationships among Italy, Germany, France, and Holland in the 1500's and 1600's, and how Rubens was deeply involved in... Read morePublished 3 months ago by caroline
A well written, well paced, thoughtful book. The author isn't an intellect on the same order as Rubens' talent, but that can't really be expected. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Jonathan Jackson, Jr.
The book is well printed, presented. The type is well spaced and a good size. The Matt text material used is easy on the eye and user friendly. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Cilla McGinley
The recipient of this book loves the contents of this book. What else could this purchaser say about it then?Published 15 months ago by Elisabeth
Presumably, scholarly readers will find little here to stimulate their interest; the general reader will find this footnote to art and diplomatic history, enlightening and... Read morePublished on July 23, 2011 by drkhimxz