Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Peter Paul Rubens was educated in languages and a master in painting who studied in Italy and settled in Antwerp. His talent, energy and ambition, and the ease with which he moved in social circles in Spain, Italy, France and England, made him a popular and respected star of the art world in the 17th century. Rubens' paintings often depicted religious and mythical heroes in realistic and exuberant poses, but he is equally respected for his landscapes and portraits. He is considered one of the greats in Western art history.
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Self-Portrait without a Hat
c.1639. Oil on canvas
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy
From Olga's Gallery

Peter Paul Rubens (June 28, 1577 – May 30, 1640) was a prolific seventeenth-century Flemish Baroque painter, and a proponent of an exuberant Baroque style that emphasized movement, color, and sensuality. He is well-known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects.
In addition to running a large studio in Antwerp which produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically-educated humanist scholar, art collector, and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV, king of Spain, and Charles I, king of England.
In Antwerp, Rubens received a 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 mannerists Adam van Noort and Otto van Veen.[2] Much of his earliest training involved copying earlier artists' works, such as woodcuts by Hans Holbein the Younger and Marcantonio Raimondi's engravings after Raphael. Rubens completed his education in 1598, at which time he entered the Guild of St. Luke as an independent master.
In 1600, Rubens traveled to Italy. He stopped first in Venice, where he saw paintings by Titian, Veronese, and Tintoretto, before settling in Mantua at the court of duke Vincenzo I of Gonzaga. The coloring and compositions of Veronese and Tintoretto had an immediate effect on Rubens's painting, and his later, mature style was profoundly influenced by Titian.[4] With financial support from the duke, Rubens traveled to Rome by way of Florence in 1601. There, he studied classical Greek and Roman art and copied works of the Italian masters. The Hellenistic sculpture Laocoön and his Sons was especially influential on him, as was the art of Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci.
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

The Artist and His First Wife, Isabella Brant
The Honeysuckle Bower
Oil on canvas-covered panel, 1609-1610
70 x 53 5/8 inches (178 x 136.5 cm)
Alte Pinakothek, Munich
Image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

Boy with Bird
Oil on panel, c.1616
19 1/4 x 15 5/8 inches (49 x 40 cm)
Staatliche Museen, Berlin
Image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

Marie de Médici, Queen of France
Oil on canvas, c.1622
51 1/8 x 42 1/2 inches (130 x 108 cm)
Museo del Prado, Madrid
Image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

In 1621, the queen-mother of France, Marie de' Medici, commissioned Rubens to paint two large allegorical cycles celebrating her life and the life of her late husband, Henry IV, for the Luxembourg Palace in Paris. The Marie de' Medici cycle (now in the Louvre) was installed in 1625, and although he began work on the second series it was never completed. Marie was exiled from France in 1630 by her son, Louis XIII, and died in 1642 in the same house in Cologne where Rubens had lived as a child.

The Exchange of Princesses
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It is a series of four paintings by Peter Paul Rubens commissioned by Marie de' Medici, wife of Henry IV of France, for the Luxembourg Palace in Paris. Rubens received the commission in the autumn of 1621. After negotiating the terms of the contract in early 1622, the project was to be completed within two years, coinciding with the marriage of Marie's daughter, Henrietta Maria. Twenty-one of the paintings depict Marie's own struggles and triumphs in life. The remaining three are portraits of herself and her parents.

The Consignment of the Regency
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Flight from Blois
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A lot of speculation exists on the exact circumstances under which Marie de' Medici decided to commission Rubens to paint "such a grandiose project, conceived in truly heroic proportions". John Coolidge suggests the cycle may have even been commissioned to rival another famous series of Rubens, The Constantine Tapestries, which he designed in his studio at the same time as the first several paintings of the Medici Cycle. It has also been suggested that Rubens prepared a number of oil sketches, by the request of Louis XIII, the son of Marie de’ Medici and successor to the throne, which may have influenced the Queen's decision to commission Rubens for the cycle by the end of the year 1621. The immortalizing of her life, however, seems to be the most apparent reason for the Queen's choice to commission a painter who was capable of executing such a demanding task.

The Reconciliation of King Henry III and Henry of Navarre
1628, Oil on panel
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Peter Paul Rubens had already established himself as an exceptional painter and also had the advantage of sustaining close ties with several important people of the time, including Marie de' Medici's sister, the wife of one of Rubens's first important patrons, the Duke of Gonzaga. The information about the commission in the contract Rubens signed is far from detailed and focuses mainly on the number of pictures in the cycle dedicated to the Queen's life, and is far less specific when it comes to the cycle praising her husband Henri IV. The contract stated that Rubens was to paint all the figures, which presumably allowed him to employ assistants for backgrounds and details.
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

The Duke of Buckingham
Oil on canvas, c.1625
24 3/4 x 18 7/8 inches (63 x 48 cm)
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence
Image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

Portrait of a Chambermaid
Chalk on paper, c.1625
13 3/4 x 11 1/8 inches (35 x 28.3 cm)
Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna
Image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

The Road to Calvary
Oil on canvas, rounded at the top, 1634-1637
224 x 139 3/4 inches (569 x 355 cm)
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels
Image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

The Triumphal Car of Kallo (sketch)
Oil on wood, c.1638
40 1/2 x 27 7/8 inches (103 x 71 cm)
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp
Image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

Oil on canvas, 1639
43 x 33 3/8 inches (109.5 x 85 cm)
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

Rubens was a prolific artist. His commissioned works were mostly religious subjects, "history" paintings, which included mythological subjects, and hunt scenes. He painted portraits, especially of friends, and self-portraits, and in later life painted several landscapes. Rubens designed tapestries and prints, as well as his own house. He also oversaw the ephemeral decorations of the Joyous Entry into Antwerp by the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand in 1635.
His drawings are mostly extremely forceful but not detailed; he also made great use of oil sketches as preparatory studies. He was one of the last major artists to make consistent use of wooden panels as a support medium, even for very large works, but he used canvas as well, especially when the work needed to be sent a long distance. For altarpieces he sometimes painted on slate to reduce reflection problems.
His fondness of painting full-figured women gave rise to the terms 'Rubensian' or 'Rubenesque' for plus-sized women. The term 'Rubensiaans' is also commonly used in Dutch to denote such women.
At a Sotheby's auction on July 10, 2002, Rubens' newly discovered painting Massacre of the Innocents (illustrated right) sold for £49.5million ($76.2 million) to Lord Thomson. It is a current record for an Old Master painting.

Massacre of the Innocents
Oil on panel, 1621
78 1/4 x 118 7/8 inches (199 x 302 cm)
Alte Pinakothek, Munich
Image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

In 2006, however, another lost masterpiece by Rubens, The Calydonian Boar Hunt, dating to 1611 or 1612, was sold to the Getty Collection in Paris for an unknown amount. It had been mistakenly attributed to a follower of Rubens for centuries until art experts authenticated it.
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

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