After a productive meeting held at Maun Infant School and Nursery in New Ollerton, staff are raring to go with their new project based around the painting ‘A Roman Triumph’ by Peter Paul Rubens. The work, featured as part of the National Gallery’s Take One Picture programme is full of tumultuous movement. Lined up in the very foreground of the composition is a moving procession of figures and animals which parade across the picture from right to left. The viewers are made to feel like spectators watching the parade from the roadside. Indeed we are not the only ones watching; other spectators in the middle ground are seated on a raised bank looking and pointing at the parade. All the figures and animals in the foreground give the impression of being in movement with their raised limbs, fluttering fabrics, brandished torches and instruments and swinging trunks.
The picture is not only full of riotous colour and movement but also full of imaginable noises: you can almost hear the growls of the animals; the horns and pipes being blown by musicians; the pounding of footsteps. The dancing maidens and animals on the right and left sides of the composition are abruptly truncated. This adds to the overall sense of movement and gives the impression that only a section of this continuous parade is made visible, that even more is happening outside of the frame.
The parading figures in Rubens’ composition depict a Roman ‘triumph’. A triumphal procession was the greatest honour that could be given to a Roman general and was usually awarded to celebrate a great military campaign or victory.