|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
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Peter Paul Rubens was born in Siegen, Westphalia on June 28,
1577. He studied at various times under Tobias Verhaecht, Adam
van Noort, and Otto van Veen. From 1600 to 1608, he was in Italy,
variously in Florence, Rome and Mantua; in 1609 he returned to
Antwerp following the news of the death of his mother. On October
3, 1609 at the age of 32, he married Isabella Brant, the daughter of
the city's secretary. He had become court painter to the Brussels
court of the Archduke Albert and Infanta Isabella, less than a
fortnight before his wedding.
It is essential for any
understanding of Rubens to remember that the power and richness of his
art reflected the depth and scope of his brilliant and cultivated mind.
He came from an educated family - his father and his brother Philip had
both received Doctorate of Law degrees in Rome. He himself had
enormously expanded his early education by association in Italy with
his humanist contemporaries and by voracious reading, which he
continued all his life. He was a practicing Catholic, not only
devoted and pious but an informed Catholic, with a lively and accurate
interest in tradition, ceremony, hagiography and mystic
symbolism. The Bible was well known to him, as were classical
myths and the literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
1620-25 he executed a number of commissions for the French court,
including his series of "events" in the life of Marie de'Medici.
Scholar, businessman, diplomat and master artist of Antwerp, Rubens
lived in an age when Catholicism and Protestantism were deep in
conflict. He made the dissonance of this conflict the basis of a
new painting style, joyously sensuous and intensely vibrant. In
it he combined the Flemish love of detail, of texture, and of living
bodies with the dramatic color, scale and movement of Italian
art. He was so much involved in diplomatic affairs, suffered so
many illnesses, and made so many trips away from Antwerp that it is
difficult to understand how such a number of splendid works were
accomplished in these years.
After the death of his wife in June
of 1626, Rubens entered the diplomatic service and made trips to
England and to Madrid where he met Velasquez. In the summer of
1629 he was received by King Charles I, who knighted him the following
year, and in the fall he was awarded the degree of Master of Arts at
Cambridge. In 1630 he returned to Antwerp and on December 6,
1630, at the age of 53, he married 16-year old Helena Fourment, with
whom he had five children. The youngest of these, a boy, was born
in the winter after Ruben's death. He was a prolific painter and
produced an amazing variety of work with the aid of a number of
assistants and apprentices.
He died on May 30, 1640, and was buried in the family vault at Antwerp.
Masterpieces of Art, Catalogue from the New York World's Fair 1940
Catalogue of Timken Art Gallery
Metropolitan Museum of Art Miniatures: Masterpieces in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Rubens.
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