Peter Paul Rubens
- Category : Art-Fine-art-artist
- Type : MGP
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Split - Small (1,10,13,45)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Penetration 2
Flemish-German artist, a baroque painter widely recognized as one of the foremost painters in the history of Western art. By completing the fusion between the realistic tradition of Flemish painting with the themes of Italian Renaissance art, Rubens fundamentally changed and revitalized northern European painting.
His father, Jan Rubens, was a lawyer and alderman of Antwerp. Ardently Calvinist in his beliefs, he fled with his wife and four children to Germany in 1568 to escape religious prosecution, where his son Peter was born in 1577. After his death in 1587, the family moved back to Antwerp where his mother raised the children in the Roman Catholic faith.
Beginning in 1591, Rubens worked with several painters in the area, finally being apprenticed to Otto van Veen. He went to Venice in 1600 and spent eight years as a court painter to the duke of Mantua. His reputation firmly established, he returned to Antwerp following his mother’s death in 1608. Although he often complained that he was "the busiest and most harassed man in the world," he accepted many ecclesiastical and private commissions and was phenomenally productive. Many of his early works have disappeared or are unidentified, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has the earliest known example, "Portrait of a Young Man," 1597.
Rubens’s royal patrons, Archduke Ferdinand and Archduchess Isabella, sent him out on negotiations to help end the war between the Spanish Netherlands and the Dutch Republic in 1625, and in 1629-30, he was instrumental in establishing a peace treaty between England and Spain. Charles I of England was impressed with Rubens and commissioned "The Allegory of War and Peace," 1629, which is his only surviving ceiling painting. Rubens was knighted by King Charles of England in 1630, and in 1632, Philip IV, King of Spain, knighted him, making him the only painter so honored by two kings. Toward the end of his life, he worked more with landscapes and portraits, and although paintings like "Landscape with the Chateau of Steen," 1636, lack the drama of his earlier works, his command of detail is obvious.
His first wife Isabella died in 1626. In December 1630, he married Helena Fourment, the 16-year old daughter of a silk and tapestry merchant. Helena was the inspiration for many of his paintings. He identified her with the goddess Venus, and she was the subject of paintings such as "Venus and Adonis." They had five children.
Rubens suffered from arthritis and possibly gout for much of his life, and although still painting, he spent most of his later years at his estate, Chateau de Steen. After an unusually severe attack, he died in May 1640.