Produced on June 28, 1577, Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens was among the very famous and prolific artists in Europe during his life along with the complete Baroque age. His patrons included royals and churches, and his artwork depicted subjects from faith, history and mythology. He died in 1640.
He served as an apprentice to a number of recognized artists, and was accepted into Antwerp’s professional guild for painters in 1598. He shortly found an company, Vincenzo I Gonzaga, duke of Mantua, who commissioned him to paint portraits and sponsored his journeys. Rubens was sent by Vincenzo to Spain, to the town of Genoa in Italy, and after that again to Rome. A gifted businessman along with an extremely talented artist, Rubens started to receive commissions to paint spiritual works for churches and portraits for private customers.
Rubens returned home to Antwerp in 1608. There he married Isabella Brant and created his own studio having a staff of helpers. He was named court painter to Archduke Albert and Archduchess Isabella, who ruled the Southern Netherlands on behalf of Spain. In a period of societal and economical recovery after war, Antwerp’s wealthy retailers were constructing their private art collections and local churches were being refurbished with new artwork. In addition to a lot of jobs for Roman Catholic churches, Rubens also created paintings with historical and mythological pictures during these years, along with hunting scenes like “Wolf and Fox Hunt” (circa 1615 21). Rubens became known as “the prince of painters as well as the painter of princes” during his profession, because of his regular work for royal customers.
Following the departure of his wife, Isabella, in 1626, Rubens traveled for a number of years, joining his artistic vocation with diplomatic visits to Spain and England on behalf of the Netherlands. When he returned to Antwerp, he wed his second wife, Helena Fourment; his family group “Self Portrait with Helena and Peter Paul” was a testament to his domestic well-being along with his own wife and new son. During the time of his departure, on May 30, 1640, in Antwerp, Spanish Netherlands (now Belgium), Rubens was among the very most famous artists in Europe. He left behind eight kids along with numerous studio helpers, a number of whom—most notably Anthony van Dyck—went on to have successful artistic careers of their own.
Rubens’s skill at arranging complicated groups of figures in a composition, his power to work with a large scale, his ease at depicting various subjects and his private eloquence and allure all brought to his success. His design joined Renaissance idealization of the human form with rich brushwork, dynamic poses as well as a lively awareness of naturalism. His fondness for depicting fleshy, curvaceous female bodies, specifically, has made the word “Rubenesque” a familiar term. Admirers of Rubens’s work contained his modern, Rembrandt, along with artists of other areas and later centuries, from Thomas Gainsborough to Eugne Delacroix.