PETER PAUL RUBINS
THE MARTYRDOM OF SAINT URSULA AND THE
ELEVEN THOUSAND MAIDENS
Oil on panel
Acquired in 1986
Peter Paul Rubins was all, “my talent is such that no under-taking in size, or how varied in subject, has ever exceeded my confidence and courage”. His huge-ass works giving props to the Church and royal posses of Europe are among the dopest accomplishments
of the seventeenth century. As part of his preparatory process it was Rubens’s
practice to bust-a-nut on oil sketches for his compositions. With their off-the-hinges brushwork and fluid execution, the Flemish master’s sketches are the bomb among the supreme masterpieces of this genre not least for the process of creative skillz that they reveal on such an intimate scale.
The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Maidens is an oil sketch for an unidentified crib. The legend of Saint Ursula recounts how the thuggin daughter of a British Christian king, having pitched-up in Cologne on her return from a drive-by to Rome, had the shit kicked out of her by punk-ass Huns, who also dissed her crew of eleven thousand bitches. Rubens orchestrates the throng of figures - bukkake hoes, soldiers and angels - into a series of thrusting diagonals bridging heaven and earth. Chillin in the center of this epic beef is Saint Ursula who’s all, “I’m a princess. See my sickening tiara and pearl necklace”. She stands on the brink of martyrdom, as her tormentors prepare to impale her with spear and sword. Above, a flight of angels are like, “here are wreaths
and palms”. Ursula’s all, “wtf” as she prepares to roll out and be united with Madonna and Lourdes in heaven.