The Kress Foundation awarded the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco a grant of $8,700 in support of Early Rubens: A Symposium which took place in September 2019, in conjunction with the Early Rubens exhibition on view at the Legion of Honor. The following description of the international symposium was taken directly from the final report submitted by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
Early Rubens: A Symposium gathered together a distinguished group of international museum curators and university professors to discuss crucial aspects of Rubens's art-making in the 1610s. Important issues in Rubens's early and mature work, such as collaborative production and artistic authorship, the role of the heroic figure in religious imagery, the potential of print media to make celebrities of living artists, and the impact of Caravaggio, were explored through a series of 25-minute illustrated lectures. Timed with the exhibition’s close, this event was free and open to the public.
The symposium expanded on new scholarship that had been commissioned for the accompanying exhibition catalogue and half of the participants were also catalogue contributors. Comprised of eight essays and catalog entries by curators and scholars from a range of institutions with extensive knowledge of Rubens’ art practice, the volume represents a significant contribution to the field of art history. Subjects included Ruben’s appropriation of the ancient world in his history paintings; commissions of religious art and management of his workshop during the Twelve Year’s Truce; the artist’s early involvement in printmaking; and a close study of The Massacre of the Innocents. Two essays from the catalogue were adapted as web articles and published on the “Dialogues” section of the exhibition homepage: