17 Peter Paul Rubens Facts: This Blog Will Blow Your Mind!

Abhijeet Modi
Oct 06, 2023 By Abhijeet Modi
Originally Published on May 10, 2022
Many Peter Paul Rubens facts are about Rubens's paintings that are currently at the Louvre Museum.

Peter Paul Rubens was an avid art collector and art dealer, who was also an influential artist of the era, whose works are on display at Prado Museum and Louvre Museum.

Once Rubens began collecting paintings, he was able to own numerous antique sculptures and paintings from Italian masters. Marie de' Medici, who was the Queen mother of France, commissioned Rubens to create paintings celebrating the lives of herself and her late husband, Henry IV.

Sir Peter Paul Rubens was a great artist. He was actually a Flemish artist. He was not just a famous artist but also a diplomat in the Southern Netherlands from the Duchy of Brabant.

His art pieces are mostly influenced by the Baroque style. He had masterpieces that were landscapes, altarpieces, portraits, allegorical subjects, and history of classical mythological subjects.

Sir Paul Rubens was also a proficient designer of cartoons of the Flemish Tapestry workshops. In Antwerp, he used to run a huge workshop that mainly produced paintings that symbolized nobility. He was a prolific artist.

Peter Paul was also an educated humanist scholar and a diplomat. He was commissioned by King Philip IV of Spain and King Charles I of England. The painted portraits of Peter Paul were either of friends or a self-portrait.

He then painted a lot of landscapes. He also wrote a book titled ‘Palazzi di Genova’, which was published in 1622. The book consists of various representations of palaces in Genoa.

Read on for some of the most interesting facts on Peter Paul Rubens.

The Early Life Of Peter Paul Rubens

Peter Paul Rubens was born on June 28, 1577, in a city called Siegen, to Maria Pypelinckx and Jan Rubens. Jan Rubens was a Calvinist.

After the religious disturbance of protestants, when there was the rule of the Duke of Alba in the Habsburg Netherlands, his mother fled from Antwerp to Cologne. He was admitted at the St. Peters Church in Cologne.

His father Jan Rubens became a legal advisor for the second wife of William I of Orange. He was also the lover of Anna and thereafter, got settled at the court in 1570 in Siegen.

He was also looking after her daughter Christine as a father. Christine was born in 1571 and Rubens was imprisoned for having an affair. After the imprisonment of Jan Rubens, Peter Paul Rubens was born in 1577.

Two years after his father died, the entire family moved to Cologne. Peter Paul Rubens stayed with his mother at his own house in Antwerp.

During the years Rubens spent at Antwerp, he grew up as a Catholic. His religion can be seen in his painting and arts. He thereafter became the leading voice of the Catholic Counter-Reformation style of arts and paintings.

Craftsmanship Of Peter Paul Rubens

Peter Paul Rubens was a prolific artist whose arts were famous throughout Europe. The catalog of his work consists of greater than 1400 pieces.

He moved to Italy, Venice where he came to know about masterpieces of Veronese, Titian, and Tintoretto. In Venice, he got in contact with Vincenzo Gonzaga who hired him as a court painter.

He also sponsored his studies on classical art in Spain and Italy. During those time, he created many original artworks as well as copies of paintings of famous major artists such as Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci.

He then returned to Antwerp when he came to know that his mother was ill. By the time he reached the place, his mother was gone. He then stayed in Antwerp and worked as a court painter for Archduke Albert VII and Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia.

He later got permission to set up his own workshop and studio in Antwerp and work for other clients. He fell in love with Isabella Brandt who he had also portrayed in a portrait. The name of the portrait is ‘The Honeysuckle Bower’.

He and his assistant in the workshop painted many altarpieces for the Roman-Catholic churches. The names of those altarpieces were ‘Elevation of the Cross’ and ‘The Descent From the Cross’.

His workshop got many talented artists during those years, out of which, one became the court painter in England, whose name was Anthony Van Dyck. He later also worked with Frans Snyders who was a Flemish animal painter and Jan Breughel the elder, who was a specialist of flower still-life.

He had also worked for foreign patrons, such as the painting at the ceilings of the Banqueting House at the Whitehall Palace. The major artworks of Paul Rubens are 'The Elevation of the Cross', 'The Descent From the Cross', 'Massacre of the Innocents', 'The Self-Portrait of Helena and Son Peter Paul', 'The Garden of Love', and 'Prometheus Bound'.

He loved his works of classical and Christian history. He had made many landscapes, portraits, and altarpieces regarding the same.

Peter Paul Reubens was considered a master of historical paintings, which is probably the reason that most of his commissioned works were paintings related to different aspects of history. This included magnificent hunt scenes, majestic religious and mythological paintings and several other backdrops.

Peter Paul Reubens also had a keen interest in painting portraits, be it self-portraits or for his friends, he could create magic with his brush. He used to design prints and tapestries, including those for his own home.

Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria also hired Peter Paul Reubens to overlook the royal entry decorations into Antwerp in 1632.

In 1622, a book authored by Rubens was published and gained widespread popularity. This book was known as 'Palazzi di Genova' and featured illustrations and palaces located in Genoa. This book by Peter Paul Reubens is credited with spreading the popularity of the Genoese Palaces across the northern regions of Europe.

Peter Paul Reubens was a well-known art and book collector. Hence, it is not a surprise that he used to own one of the largest collections of books and art across Antwerp.

As an art dealer, Peter Paul Reubens sold several notable creations from renowned artists. The most popular art object that he ever sold was to the first Duke of Buckingham, George Villiers.

Peter Paul Reubens is credited as one of the major artists who regularly used to employ the usage of wooden panels as a support structure for extensive creations. However, this does not mean that he did not use canvas. He made regular use of canvas for works that were supposed to ship over long distances.

Peter Paul Rubens was one of the greatest art collectors of his time.

The Business Acumen Of Peter Paul Rubens

Peter Paul Rubens gave rise to a new art form with business acumen, out of which, one was his famous artwork titled 'Wolf and Fox Hunt' in which he had portrayed the hunting scenes of the wolf and fox on a canvas.

Paul Rubens completed this famous masterpiece with his assistants, but it is said that Rubens painted the wolves himself.

He was the owner of a library containing antiquities which included an Egyptian mummy. He also had close contact with political leaders and intellectuals. He used to speak seven languages proficiently. He practiced Barbantine architecture, Baroque style arts, and Pantheon to promote mechanical arts.

He was made the court painter, trusted diplomat, and councilor by the ruling Habsburgs. He then got lordships with an increase in his social ranks.

He then married Helena Fourment in 1630, after the death of his first wife, Isabella Brant, in 1626. He retired from the Habsburg court to enjoy his life with his second wife after the death of Isabella Brant. He believed that Helena resembled the ideal woman he had thought of.

Helena had inspired the figures of most of his paintings. Paintings in which you can witness this are, 'The Feast of Venus', 'The Three Graces', and 'The Judgement of Paris'.

He also had knowledge about medicines. In his paintings depicting women, there were always two prominent colors, white and red, because he believed that women are a mixture of blood and milk.

One of the art pieces that depict this is 'The Education of Marie de Medici'. He had another masterpiece that is 'The Assumption of the Virgin Mary' which he made in 1626.

He considered it as an altarpiece of the Cathedral Of Our Lady in Antwerp. In the painting, he showed a group of angels lifting Mary towards a divine light in a spiral motion. There are 12 apostles who are standing below her who are showing different positions to show respect towards her.

Some are raising their arms, some are giving her flowers, and some are touching her shroud. This is one of his famous oil paintings.

Death Of Peter Paul Rubens

Sir Peter Paul Rubens died due to heart failure which arose because of chronic gout. He died on May 30, 1640, when he was 62 years old.

He was buried in the Saint James Church, Antwerp. A small room for Christian worship was built for him and his family in the church. The construction work of this chapel started in 1642 and ended in 1650.

The chapel consisted of an altarpiece created by Rubens that is 'The Virgin And The Child With The Saints'. The remains of his second wife and his children were also laid in the same chapel. Sir Peter Paul Rubens is compared to the famous Greek painter Apelles in the epitaph.

The artist had eight children in total. Three children were from his first wife and five were from his second wife. His youngest child was born eight months after his death.

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Written by Abhijeet Modi

Master of Computer Science

Abhijeet Modi picture

Abhijeet ModiMaster of Computer Science

An experienced and innovative entrepreneur and creative writer, Abhijeet holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Application from Birla Institute of Technology, Jaipur. He co-founded an e-commerce website while developing his skills in content writing, making him an expert in creating blog posts, website content, product descriptions, landing pages, and editing articles. Passionate about pushing his limits, Abhijeet brings both technical expertise and creative flair to his work.

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