Peter Paul Rubens

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Peter Pauls Rubens ranks among the highly acclaimed, widely celebrated and most influential European artists of the 17th century. His work has not only been commercially successful, but also, marks some of the most significant contributions to the Baroque style. He was commissioned for portraits and works of art by wealthy and prolific patrons that included the clergy, royalty as well as the nobility. His work depicted a wide and diverse array of subjects ranging from religion, and mythology to history. His elegant and finely composed brush strokes brought to life an impressively intense realism to the canvas, and his work demonstrated a fine knowledge of the classical style of the Renaissance. Some of his best works include, “The Descent from the Cross”, “Wolf and Fox Hunt”, “Self-Portrait with Helena and Peter Paul” and “The Garden of Love”.

Peter Paul Rubens was born on June 28, 1577, in Siegen, Westphalia. He hailed from a prosperous and large family of seven children, his father was an affluent lawyer while his mother was impeccable refined and cultured. In 1587, after the tragic death of his father, Paul along with his family, moved to Antwerp, in the Spanish Netherlands. In Antwerp, he began his early education and training in art, and served as the apprentice of several notable and influential artists. In 1598, Paul was admitted into the professional guild for painters in Antwerp.

In 1600, Rubens decided to visit Italy, and inspire his aesthetic sense and artistic style with the works of the great masters. He viewed and practiced the works of renowned Renaissance master including Tintoretto and Titian in Venice, along with studying Michelangelo and Raphael in Rome. Soon, he was commissioned by the wealthy and influential duke of Mantua, Vincenzo I Gonzaga, who wanted him to paint portraits from several great cities of Europe, and he financed all of Rubens extensive travels to carry out this assignment.

Rubens travelled to Spain, Genoa and later, to Rome in order to produce the works commissioned by the duke. During this period, his fame as an artist of intense expression and profound talent began to spread, and he was commissioned for several prestigious works of art by the churches as well as private clients that included influential members of the royalty as well as nobility.

In 1608, Rubens decided to return to Antwerp and settle down. He tied the knot with Isabella Brant, and established his private art studio in Antwerp. Very soon, the Archduke Albert and Archduchess Isabella, impressed by his work and talent, appointed him the court painter. Antwerp in the early 17th century, was going through a period of incredible economic reform and recovery and the prosperous merchants of the city aspired to become wealthy and influential patrons of exclusive and unique pieces of art, and hence, Rubens iconic style and unique talent was commissioned by several merchants and churches for their private collections. Some of Rubens most prestigious commissions include, “The Raising of the Cross” and “The Descent from the Cross”, both are widely famous religious works produced for the Antwerp Cathedral.

Rubens commercial success, immense praise and critical acclaim begin to spread throughout the continent, due to his influential and royal patrons, he earned the title of “the prince of painters and the painter of princes”. In 1622, King Louis XIII of France commissioned him to produce a tapestry cycle, Ruben produced 21, huge canvases that portrayed the reign of Marie de Medici of France in splendid glory and magnificence. In 1629, he was commissioned by Charles I of England for the iconic and famous, “Peace and War”.

In 1629, Rubens was shattered by the death of his beloved wife Isabella, and soon after, he began conducting extensive travels, devoting his time to his artistic pursuits and his diplomatic career, that required him to make regular trips to Spain and England as a representative of the Netherlands. On his return to Antwerp, Rubens decided to remarry, and he chose Helena Fourment. Upon the birth of his son, he painted the iconic and famous, “Self-Portrait with Helena and Peter Paul”, a painting that shows his bliss and contentment with his family life and his newly born son. During the 1630s, he produced some of his highly acclaimed and commercially successful works, such as “The Judgment of Paris” and “The Garden of Love”.

Rubens passed away on May 30, 1640, in Antwerp, Spanish Netherlands.

 

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