Peter Paul Rubens once met a Negro on the docks of Antwerp, or perhaps at a party, and asked the man to pose. 'Probably he gave no more than a morning to the multiple study that now hangs at the Brussels Royal Musum of Fine Arts. This portrait bulges with brilliance, makes room for itself; yet it is not monumental in feeling but intimate. Rubens spins his subject swiftly, eagerly, to see and show the same thing from four view points all at once. Who was the model? No one knows his name. Rubens presumably painted him for fun, for...

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