They have a nice collection of Peter Paul Rubens at the Getty Center including this very early painting of a hunting scene. In 2006, The Calydonian Boar Hunt was sold to the Getty Collection in Paris for more than €300,000. That figure pales against the millions that collectors are prepared to pay for a Rubens. It had been mistakenly attributed to a follower of Rubens for centuries until the attribution to Rubens was confirmed by David Jaffe, senior curator of Flemish paintings at the National Gallery in London. Michael Brand, director of the Getty Museum, said that The Calydonian Boar Hunt is one of the greatest paintings by Rubens in the United States. “It is seldom that a ‘lost’ painting of such an innovative historical subject by an artist of this caliber comes to light again,” he added. Scholars believe that Rubens kept the work in his studio to inspire him as he continued to develop the theme of the hunt and related subjects through the years. The story of the Calydonian boar hunt was told and retold during antiquity, most famously in Ovid's Metamorphoses. When King Oeneus of Calydon failed to honor the goddess Diana with offerings, she released a terrifying boar on his land. The king's son, Meleager, assembled a group of renowned warriors to slay the beast. Several of the huntsmen were killed or maimed before Meleager finally defeated the boar. He presented its head as a trophy to his beloved, the huntress Atalanta, who is seen behind Meleager, with bow in hand. Painted on his return from Italy, it reflects his study of statues from antiquity and reliefs on Roman sarcophagi, which inspired the pose of his subjects and the composition. Mr. Brand said, “The Calydonian Boar Hunt shows Rubens at his most daring and inventive.”
The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, opened in 1997, features works of art dating from the eighth through the twenty-first century, showcased against a backdrop of dramatic architecture, tranquil gardens, and breathtaking views of Los Angeles. The collection includes European paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts, and European, Asian, and American photographs. Since L.A. lacks the piazzas and promenades of other major cities, the Getty Center is more than just a museum. Occupying an isolated, hillside perch, the giant multi-terraced art complex has become one of L.A.’s great urban spaces, where visitors can stroll and admire views over the city. Located in the Brentwood Hills above Los Angeles with spectacular panoramic views of the city and the ocean below, the Center comprises the J Paul Getty Museum, five separate arts and humanities institutions, and landscaped gardens and terraces on a 110-acre site. The complex represents a unique order of civic achievement and an intense collaboration between architect and design teams, clients and program coordinators. Richard Meier has created a cultural acropolis for the twenty-first century, striking a delicate balance between humanist, classical organization, and organic forms.
When we were at the Getty Center, I was surprised to see a lovely collection of Rembrandts and particularly this recently famous self portrait done early in his career, painted on copper. A crucial aspect of Rembrandt's development was his intense study of people, objects, and their surroundings “from life,” as is obvious in paintings as his early self-portraits and the Saint Paul in Prison of 1627. Even by Dutch standards, Rembrandt's preoccupation with direct observation was exceptional and continued throughout his career. This painting captures the universal emotion of laughter and joi de vivre of life which contrasts so sharply with his later self portraits. Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum said “The Getty Museum possesses the most significant collection of early Rembrandts in the United States, and if you had asked what addition would best cap it off, the answer would have been a self-portrait, which many regard as his greatest and most sustained achievement. But the chances of finding such a work seemed negligible, until the rediscovery of this painting in 2007. It is unquestionably one of the most remarkable works of art to become available in recent memory.”