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Sir Peter Paul Rubens


Peter Paul Rubens was born on 28 June 1577 in Siegen (Westphalia, near Cologne), and died in Antwerp on 30 May 1640. His father, Jan, an Antwerp jurist, was persecuted as a Calvinist and fled with his family to Germany. After attending a humanistic school, the young Rubens was trained by Tobias Verhaecht, Adam van Noort and Otto van Veen. The last named was the major master of an Italianate style then active in the Netherlands. Rubens was a page at Oudenarde, the court of the widow of Philip of Lalaing; this service prepared him for a life­long association with court patronage. In 1598 he became a free master and had several apprentices. Between 1600 and 1608 he was court painter to Vincenzo Gonzaga at Mantua. A mission to Spain between 1603 and 1604 was the first of many important journeys combining professional and diplomatic duties which the artist was to undertake for future patrons (most notably for Marie de' Medici). The painter's association with Genoa began in the fall or winter of 1602, when he painted the equestrian portrait of Giancarlo Doria, and ended in 1607. In 1606 Rubens resided in Rome. Upon his return to the Netherlands in 1608 he was appointed court painter to Albert and Isabella, Regents of the Netherlands, and was soon recognized as the major Flemish master, receiving extensive patronage and maintaining an extremely large studio. Marie de' Medici commissioned him to paint the celebrated series of scenes from her life in 1622 (Paris, Louvre). After Archduke Albert's death Rubens became Isabella's confidential advisor; she ennobled him and made him a member of her council. He was sent on a diplomatic mission to Philip IV of Spain (who knighted him) in 1628. Between 1629-30 Rubens went to England to negotiate with Charles I, who also knighted the artist and, like many members of his court, gave him commissions, the most important of which was the painted ceiling of the Banqueting Hall at Whitehall. Rubens was consummate master of almost every aspect of painting, pageantry, print and tapestry design, and probably also participated in sculptural and architectural projects. His extraordinarily accomplished assimilation of Italian and Northern art, coupled with his robust yet sensitive portraiture, landscape mastery and dramatic composition made him the dominant figure in Northern Europe until his death in 1640.
Image Artist Artwork Title Date School K No. Repository