Does our whole view of England come from Rubens?

Click to follow
England's assumed supremacy in landscape painting will be challenged by a new exhibition of Rubens, Neil McGregor, director of the National Gallery, said yesterday, David Lister writes.

"The whole view of England comes out of Rubens's view of Flanders' landscape," he said. "What we think of as a highly English genre was in fact international.

"Rubens's painting of his country house, Het Steen, set in the Flanders countryside (above), was one of two paintings by Rubens which inspired Constable's The Hay-Wain. The similarities are enormous," he added. Last night, the Flemish Minister of Culture, who was enraptured by the exhibition, presented the National Gallery with pounds 100,000 to devote one of its soon- to-be refurbished rooms to Flemish art - an unprecedented event for the London gallery.

Rubens's Landscapes is part of the series, Making and Meaning, sponsored by Esso at the National Gallery's Sainsbury Wing, until 19 January 1997.