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Peter Paul Rubens

1577-1640 Flemish/Baroque


Brief Biography-Sir Peter Paul Rubens was born in Siegen after his father left Antwerp to avoid religious unrest. Rubens received his early education in a Jesuit school in Cologne until his father died in 1587. Being a Catholic, his mother was permitted to return to Antwerp with her family that year. At the age of thirteen, Rubens studied under Tobias Verhaecht. Dissatisfied with Verhaecht’s teaching, he entered the studio of Adam van Noort alongside Jacob Jordaens. After four years, he worked under Otto van Veen, Court painter to Archduke Albert. In 1598, the painters Guild of Antwerp made him a master. With the help of the Archduke, Van Veen induced him to go to Italy in 1600. Under the patronage of Vincenzo 1, Duke of Mantua, whom he met in Venice, he visited Florence, Genoa, and Rome, where the works of Caravaggio had a profound influence on him. Next, the Duke sent him on a mission to Spain to deliver paintings to King Philip III and while there for a year, Rubens could study from the Royal collection. After returning to Mantua, his brother Philip sent him news of his mother’s illness; she died before he arrived back in Antwerp.
In 1609, he married Isabella Brant. He became Court Painter to Archduke Albert that year, and the Romanist Guild of Saint Paul and Saint Peter admitted him. He settled in Antwerp, building a large house where he took on several pupils. Rubens sketched scenes for the pupils to paint, and the master would finish them. He would distinguish them from works that he solely painted for pricing when selling these paintings. Some of Ruben’s most notable assistants were Jacob Jordaens, Anthony van Dyck, Justus van Egmont, Cornelis de Vos, Deodat van der Mont and David Teniers the Younger. Rubens was the foremost European painter and received numerous commissions; many were in churches. In 1622, Marie de’ Medici engaged him to paint the Luxembourg Palace gallery, which he finished three years later.
When Archduke Albert died, Infanta Isabella became Governor of the Spanish Netherlands and dispatched him on diplomatic missions. One was to Spain, where he met Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez. The two artists visited El Escorial, taking inspiration from its art collection. Then, in 1629, his engagements took him to England, and there he received the commission to paint the Apotheosis of James I for the ceiling of the Banqueting House in London, which he painted in Antwerp.
By 1635, his health was failing, and he retired with his second wife, Hélène Fourment, to the Château de Steen. He mainly painted landscapes there but still worked in his Antwerp studio. He was subsequently employed to oversee the pageant for the entry of Archduke Ferdinand into Antwerp. That same year, he became a painter to the king. One of his last works was the Martyrdom of Saint Peter in the church of Saint Peter, Cologne. As a result, Rubens received a knighthood from King Philip IV of Spain and Charles I of England. He died in 1640, and his remains lie in a specially built chapel in the church of Saint Jacques in Antwerp.


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and crocodile

Hippopotamus and Crocodile Hunt


Self-portrait-with wife Isabella Brant in the Honeysuckle Bower

of Het Steen

View of Het Steen Landscape

Three Graces

The Three Graces

Nature Adorning
the Three Graces

Nature Adorning the Three Graces


The Circumcision

The Last

The Last Judgement

The Meeting of Marie
de Medicis-

The Meeting of Marie de Medicis and Henri four at Lyon


Three Graces

Straw Hat

The Straw Hat

of Medusa

Head of Medusa

and Nicolass

Albert and Nicolass Rubens


Descent from the Cross


Tereus Confronted with the Head of his Son Itylus

de Médici

Maria de Médici Arriving at Marseilles


Village Fete


Summer Landscape

Fall of
the Damned

Fall of the Damned

and Remus

Romulus and Remus

of a Child

Head of a Child


Old Woman with Basket of Coal


Diana Presenting the Catch to Pan


Night Scene


The Massacre of the Innocents

of Paris

The Judgment of Paris


Manacled Prometheus



The Duke
of Lerma

The Duke of Lerma

Adoration of
the Shepherds

Adoration of the Shepherds

Venus at
the Mirror

Venus at the Mirror

Elevation of
the Cross

Elevation of the Cross

Allegory on
Emperor Charles

Allegory on Emperor Charles as Ruler of Vast Realms


Christ Resurrected

Christ at Simon
the Pharisee

Christ at Simon the Pharisee

Cupid Making
His Bow

Cupid Making His Bow

Dance of Italian

Dance of Italian Villagers