You Never Forget The First

Be honest … you didn’t think I was going to talk about paintings, did you?
The first painting that I can recall seeing was Prometheus Bound by Peter Paul Rubens. It inspired complete and utter awe. I was about 8 years old and living in the suburbs of the greatest city in America – Philly. As the painting is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s permanent collection I’ve had the pleasure of seeing it many times since that visit. And, while the initial feelings of shock and overwhelming awe have lessened, the piece still captivates.
My initial feelings of shock and awe were likely due to the sheer size of the piece because at almost 8 feet high and nearly 7 feet wide it is freaking huge. Just one of the eagle’s wings was probably bigger than I was at the time. Interestingly enough, the eagle was painted by Frans Snyders a wildlife painter who collaborated with Rubens on at least 2 other pieces of work. Another aspect of the painting that I think probably drew my attention is that Prometheus is very much alive as the eagle is pulling innards out. No dead man’s head (Holofernes) on a platter. A real living person struggling against chains. I was only 8 so I didn’t have much information on Greek Mythology although I really doubt knowing that Prometheus got to live through this gruesome activity daily would have made me feel any better about things.
Rubens kept Prometheus Bound in his own private collection for some time and he considered it one of his most important pieces which is, in of itself, impressive because he put out an incredible amount of work during his lifetime.
Anyone else remember the first painting they remember seeing?
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