He once noted that "my talents are such that I have never lacked courage to undertake any design, however vast in size or diversified in subject. In addition to individual pictures -- altarpieces, portraits, mythological canvases occasionally executed with the assistance of his friends and colleagues Jan Breughel the Elder and Frans Snyders , Rubens was much in demand for ambitious decorative schemes -- the 24 monumental canvases of the "Life of Maria de' Medici" painted for the Palais du Luxembourg in Paris in now in the Louvre , two altarpieces and 39 ceiling pictures for the new Jesuit Church in Antwerp destroyed by fire in the 18th century the ceiling paintings for the Banqueting House at Whitehall in London , the decorations for the Triumphal Entry into Antwerp of the Governor Infante Ferdinand and the Decoration of Philipp IV's hunting lodge, the Torre de la Parada, near Madrid, which featured mythological subjects largely painted by assistants from Rubens' designs.
Additionally, Rubens' irreproachable behavior and discretion, quick mind, charm and knowledge of five languages made him an invaluable and trusted diplomat, and in this capacity he served the courts of Spain and England, eventually helping to secure a peace agreement between the two countries.
Rubens was equally blessed in his private life. Handsome and fit, he seems to have been an uncommonly engaging and charismatic individual with none of the petty jealousies regarding rivals and colleagues that routinely blot the lives of ordinary mortals. He was both collaborator and friend with painters as disparate as Frans Snyders and Jan Breughel the Elder. Excepting the death of his first wife Isabella Brandt, his married life was blissful, capped by his second marriage at age 53 to the blonde and buxom year-old Helene Fourment who was only four years older than Rubens eldest son.
She was pregnant with Rubens last child when the artist died in Rubens was one of the very few 17th-century artists who inspired artists right until the early 20th century. His importance to French painting was especially profound and he was closely studied by artists ranging from Watteau, Greuze and Fragonard through to Delacroix and Renoir.
The 19th-century writer-brothers Edmond and Jules de Goncourt described Rubens as "that founding father and that bold initiator. For a hundred years it seems that the painting of France had no other cradle, no other school, no other homeland than in the Galerie of the Luxembourg, the Life of Marie de' Medici. The God is there. Although English artists even William Hogarth were generally quite enthusiastic about the artist the 18th-century American painter Charles Willson Peale named his fourth son Rubens , the Flemish master's exuberance and muscular physicality also had its detractors.
One 18th-century English connoisseur snootily noted that "all his women look like wet-nurses," while the American painter Thomas Eakins actively loathed the Fleming, noting that "his people must be all in the most violent action, must use the strength of Hercules if a little watch is to be wound up, the wind must be blowing great guns even in a chamber of dining room.
His pictures always put me in mind of chamber pots and I would not be sorry if they were all burnt. Both Rubens exhibitions now on view offer excellent introductions to the artist's creative processes. The Met's show of drawings is perhaps the most surprising, where the master of the Baroque at his most turbulent is revealed as a draftsman with a surprisingly varied and often unexpectedly delicate touch.
A majority of the drawings on view come from the Albertina, and it is something of a coup for its curators Anne-Marie Logan and Michiel C. Plomp and its instigator, Met drawings curator George Goldner, to have extracted so many sumptuous sheets from the notoriously lend-shy Viennese cabinet. Rubens valued his drawings highly and did not part with them willingly. He seems to have thought of them as the private evidence of his hard work and incessant choreography in orchestrating his large finished canvases.
From his youth, he was an incessant and astute copyist of earlier painting and sculpture. In these sheets Rubens is at his most careful and methodical, copying art as varied as a 15th-century engraving by Israel van Meckenem to Michelangelo's Libyan Sibyl Goldner could not resist the opportunity to hang the Met's own Michelangelo drawing for the same figure beside it to heads from Titian's Diana and Actaeon Rubens being the best pupil the Venetian painter ever had posthumously to several front-and-back views of famous second-century Roman marble known as the Borghese Fisherman , which the artist transformed into a painting of The Death of Seneca.
But even in copies, Rubens' touch is lively instead of dry, as if he were inspired by the art in front of him instead of oppressed by it. In his later years, Rubens would take artistic inspiration from the past to a new and more direct level, through reworking and retouching the drawings of earlier artists, and several of these transformations are also included in the show. In many ways, the most surprising examples in the show are Rubens' pen drawings. Unusually agitated and free, they are often referred to as "crabbelinge" scribbles and in such sheets as Studies for Diana and her Nymphs from the Rijksmuseum, the Metropolitan's recently acquired Studies for an Altarpiece and the great Dancing Peasants from the British Museum they show the artist in an almost feverishly expressive mode.
A number of early pen and wash sheets depicting Biblical heroines and hussies are especially notable. In two representations of Susanna, the surprised bather gathers her wrap frantically while glancing back in terror at a ghostly, quickly indicated elder, while in another drawing, Judith hacks off the screaming head of Holofernes with wild abandon. By the time the subject became a finished painting now lost and known only through an engraving , a violent snapshot had been transformed by the ever-diplomatic artist into a dutiful god sent decapitation.
Rubens preferred medium for drawing was black chalk and he had a comfortable yet careful command of it, while rarely displaying the sensuous fluency in the medium one finds in the drawings of the Carracci the most notable exceptions are the powerful studies for the Washington Daniel in the Lions' Den and the nude studies for the Antwerp Raising of the Cross. Religion figured prominently in much of his work, and Rubens later became one of the leading voices of the Catholic Counter-Reformation style of painting  he had said "My passion comes from the heavens, not from earthly musings".
In Antwerp, Rubens received a Renaissance humanist education, studying Latin and classical literature. By fourteen he began his artistic apprenticeship with Tobias Verhaeght. Subsequently, he studied under two of the city's leading painters of the time, the late Mannerist artists Adam van Noort and Otto van Veen. Rubens completed his education in , at which time he entered the Guild of St. Luke as an independent master. In Rubens travelled to Italy. The colouring and compositions of Veronese and Tintoretto had an immediate effect on Rubens's painting, and his later, mature style was profoundly influenced by Titian.
Peter Paul Rubens and the art of drawing in Flanders
There, he studied classical Greek and Roman art and copied works of the Italian masters. Paul's Church in Antwerp. This journey marked the first of many during his career that combined art and diplomacy. He returned to Italy in , where he remained for the next four years, first in Mantua and then in Genoa and Rome. He also began a book illustrating the palaces in the city, which was published in as Palazzi di Genova.
Peter Paul Rubens Drawing Sells for Record-Setting $ M. at Sotheby's -ARTnews
From to , he was mostly in Rome. During this period Rubens received, with the assistance of Cardinal Jacopo Serra the brother of Maria Pallavicini , his most important commission to date for the High Altar of the city's most fashionable new church, Santa Maria in Vallicella also known as the Chiesa Nuova.
The subject was to be St. Gregory the Great and important local saints adoring an icon of the Virgin and Child. Rubens's experiences in Italy continued to influence his work. He continued to write many of his letters and correspondences in Italian, signed his name as "Pietro Paolo Rubens", and spoke longingly of returning to the peninsula—a hope that never materialized. Upon hearing of his mother's illness in , Rubens planned his departure from Italy for Antwerp. However, she died before he arrived home. His return coincided with a period of renewed prosperity in the city with the signing of the Treaty of Antwerp in April , which initiated the Twelve Years' Truce.
He received special permission to base his studio in Antwerp instead of at their court in Brussels , and to also work for other clients. He remained close to the Archduchess Isabella until her death in , and was called upon not only as a painter but also as an ambassador and diplomat. Rubens further cemented his ties to the city when, on 3 October , he married Isabella Brant , the daughter of a leading Antwerp citizen and humanist, Jan Brant. In Rubens moved into a new house and studio that he designed.
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Now the Rubenshuis Museum, the Italian-influenced villa in the centre of Antwerp accommodated his workshop, where he and his apprentices made most of the paintings, and his personal art collection and library, both among the most extensive in Antwerp. During this time he built up a studio with numerous students and assistants. His most famous pupil was the young Anthony van Dyck , who soon became the leading Flemish portraitist and collaborated frequently with Rubens.
He also often collaborated with the many specialists active in the city, including the animal painter Frans Snyders , who contributed the eagle to Prometheus Bound c.
Peter Paul Rubens
The "High House" was built next to the village church. Altarpieces such as The Raising of the Cross and The Descent from the Cross — for the Cathedral of Our Lady were particularly important in establishing Rubens as Flanders' leading painter shortly after his return. The Raising of the Cross , for example, demonstrates the artist's synthesis of Tintoretto's Crucifixion for the Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice, Michelangelo 's dynamic figures, and Rubens's own personal style.
This painting has been held as a prime example of Baroque religious art. Rubens used the production of prints and book title-pages, especially for his friend Balthasar Moretus , the owner of the large Plantin-Moretus publishing house , to extend his fame throughout Europe during this part of his career. In , Rubens embarked upon a printmaking enterprise by soliciting an unusual triple privilege an early form of copyright to protect his designs in France, the Southern Netherlands, and United Provinces.
Rubens also designed the last significant woodcuts before the 19th-century revival in the technique. The Marie de' Medici cycle now in the Louvre was installed in , and although he began work on the second series it was never completed.
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After the end of the Twelve Years' Truce in , the Spanish Habsburg rulers entrusted Rubens with a number of diplomatic missions. He relied on his friendship with Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc to get information on political developments in France. He also made several trips to the northern Netherlands as both an artist and a diplomat.
At the courts he sometimes encountered the attitude that courtiers should not use their hands in any art or trade, but he was also received as a gentleman by many. Philip IV confirmed Rubens's status as a knight a few months later. Rubens was in Madrid for eight months in — He also began a renewed study of Titian's paintings, copying numerous works including the Madrid Fall of Man — His stay in Antwerp was brief, and he soon travelled on to London where he remained until April While Rubens's international reputation with collectors and nobility abroad continued to grow during this decade, he and his workshop also continued to paint monumental paintings for local patrons in Antwerp.
Rubens's last decade was spent in and around Antwerp. Major works for foreign patrons still occupied him, such as the ceiling paintings for the Banqueting House at Inigo Jones 's Palace of Whitehall , but he also explored more personal artistic directions. In the latter painting, which was made for the Spanish court, the artist's young wife was recognized by viewers in the figure of Venus.
In , Rubens bought an estate outside Antwerp, the Steen , where he spent much of his time. He also drew upon the Netherlandish traditions of Pieter Bruegel the Elder for inspiration in later works like Flemish Kermis c. Rubens died from heart failure, a result of his chronic gout , on 30 May He was interred in Saint James' Church, Antwerp. His epitaph read: . Hispaniarum Indiarumq.
Many of his descendants married into important noble families of Antwerp. His nudes of various biblical and mythological women are especially well-known. Painted in the Baroque tradition of depicting women as soft-bodied, passive, and highly sexualized beings, his nudes emphasize the concepts of fertility, desire, physical beauty, temptation, and virtue. Skillfully rendered, these paintings of nude women were undoubtedly created to appeal to his largely male audience of patrons. And while the male gaze features heavily in Rubens's paintings of females generally, he brings multi-layered allegory and symbolism to his portraits.
Rubens's depiction of males is equally stylized, replete with meaning, and quite the opposite of his female subjects.
His male nudes represent highly athletic and large mythical or biblical men. Unlike his female nudes, most of his male nudes are depicted partially nude, with sashes, armour, or shadows shielding them from being completely unclothed. These men are twisting, reaching, bending, and grasping: all of which portrays his male subjects engaged in a great deal of physical, sometimes aggressive, action. The concepts Rubens artistically represents illustrate the male as powerful, capable, forceful and compelling. The allegorical and symbolic subjects he painted reference the classic masculine tropes of athleticism, high achievement, valour in war, and civil authority.
Rubens was a great admirer of Leonardo da Vinci's work. Using an engraving done 50 years after Leonardo started his project on the Battle of Anghiari, Rubens did a masterly drawing of the Battle which is now in the Louvre in Paris. Paintings from Rubens's workshop can be divided into three categories: those he painted by himself, those he painted in part mainly hands and faces , and those he only supervised as other painters produced them from his drawings or oil sketches. He had, as was usual at the time, a large workshop with many apprentices and students, some of whom, such as Anthony van Dyck , became famous in their own right.
He also often sub-contracted elements such as animals or still-life in large compositions to specialists such as Frans Snyders , or other artists such as Jacob Jordaens. Venus at the Mirror , —14, oil-painting, private collection. Virgin in Adoration before the Christ Child , c.