Peter Paul Rubens Biography | Oil Paintings
6-28-1577 Siegen, GER – 5-30-1640 Antwerp, BELBack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Born in Siegen, now part of Germany, Peter Paul Rubens was brought up in Antwerp in the Spanish Netherlands. Originally intended for the law, he studied painting under Tobias Verhaecht, Adam van Noort, and Otto Vaenius and was admitted into the Antwerp painters' guild in 1598.
Peter Paul Rubens burst onto the European scene at the beginning of the seventeenth century with astonishing force. After several years in Italy studying the great masters and perfecting his art, he and very soon achieved resounding success. His style was rich and exuberant; he reveled in painting and in seeing the pigment on the canvas, tackling the widest possible range of subjects and formats. This monumental, dramatic composition Descent From The Cross reworks Italian precedents (Titian and Caravaggio) with a remarkable energy and sense of involvement.
Rubens Sensual Pleasure of Life and Painting.
From 1600 to 1608 Peter Paul Rubens was court painter to Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, and traveled all over Italy and Spain, furthering his studies and also executing paintings for various churches. With over a hundred assistants, his workshop produced a vast output and exported all over Europe. Between 1620 and 1640. in fact, he was the most sought-after European painter and commissions poured in.
The Artist And His First Wife Isabella Brant In The Honeysuckle Bower, this extremely accurate rendition highlights the many symbolic details of natural setting and the couple's dress, which are allusions to love, faithfulness, and their high social status. Rubens was fluent in five languages and was blessed with fine manners and a natural elegance, further refined by the long periods spent at European courts. His image as a painter was the opposite extreme to that of the unfortunate peintres maudits like Caravaggio or, in his later life, Rembrandt.
Shortly after his return to Antwerp, he was appointed court painter to Archduke Albrecht of the Netherlands. In the last years of his life, Peter Paul Rubens combined painting with diplomatic missions which took him to France, Spain, and England and resulted in many fine portraits, as well as his larger religious pieces, though Antwerp remained the center of his activity. He was knighted by both Charles I and Phillip IV of Spain. By 1630 the traveling had taken its toll on him, and he retired from the court to Steen, and for the last ten years of his life, he only painted landscape oil paintings.
The Hermit And The Sleeping Angelica, this small but beautiful work depicts an episode from Orlando Furioso, the celebrated epic poem by Ludovico Ariosto, during which the sleeping Angelica is carried to an island by the demon, conjured up by a hermit's magic. The handling of this subject is remarkably fine, and reminiscent of the early Rembrandt, while in general stylistic terms the painting can be considered a blend of Titian and Delacroix.
In his fruitful relations with reigning monarchs, Rubens resembles the great masters of the Italian Renaissance, and his expansive, sensual paintings filled the royal collections. No collection could be considered complete if it did not contain his works.
This painting The Four Continents is a Baroque allegory on the theme of geography, notable for its realistic representation of exotic animals like the crocodile and the tigress and her suckling cubs, which Rubens must have admired on the quayside in Antwerp. In addition to the animals, plants and archaeological references indicating the various parts of the world, there are also four female figures who represent the continents, embraced by their respective rivers. On the left is Europe with the bearded Danube, in the center black Africa with the fertile Nile crowded with ears of wheat, on the right Asia with its sturdy Ganges, and behind her America with the Amazon.
Rubenesque the Aesthetic Ideals of Males in the Baroque Age.
Ruben's mythological works express to the full his grandiose conception of painting, especially when he chooses, with evident pleasure, to portray voluptuous monumental female nudes. This work is traditionally interpreted as depicting the myth of the twins Castor and Pollux, the sons of Leda and Zeus ( who had turned himself into a swan). This literary episode, drawn from the texts of Theocritus and Ovid, represents the rape of Phoebe and Hilaria, the daughters of King Leucippus of Argos, by the divine twins.
The abduction led to a fight with the girls betrothed, which ended in the death of Castor and the subsequent metamorphosis of the twins into the constellation Gemini. If the identification of the subject is correct, this is the only important painting depicting this part of the myth. Based on the fact that the two men do not seem to be twins and the horses are also different in color, it has recently been suggested that the title should be changed from The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus to the more common Rape of the Sabine Women.
In its image of love and violence, and in fact the Cupid on the left does have a rather evil expression. However, the theme itself is overshadowed by the imposing composition and lavish brushwork. This is a true masterpiece of the mythological genre, executed not with cerebral elegance, but as a sensual wave of forms and colors. Rubens depicts this immense group, consisting of two girls, the divine twins, the horses, and the cupids, as a single quivering block. Everything revolves in perfect balance under the control of the painter. The horses add a thrilling animal force to the scene, while the Dioscuri, especially the one seen in profile, are reminiscent of classical models. Rubens's classicism is influenced by Hellenistic sculpture. The rearing horses with gleaming eyes and flaring nostrils were later to be copied almost exactly by Velazquez in his equestrian portraits for the Spanish court. Although the women seem too shapely by today's standards, they are perfect examples of the aesthetic ideals of the male public in the Baroque age. The word Rubenesque is now applied to a woman who has similar proportions to those in paintings by Peter Paul Ruben, the Judgment of Paris being a good example, attractively plump, who is full-figured, curvy and shapely.
Peter Paul Rubens's painting Massacre of the Innocents, rediscovered not long before, sold at auction in 2002, for US$76.2 million, this has remained the record auction price for an Old Master painting.
Art Movement: Baroque.
Artists Influencing Peter Paul Rubens: Tobias Verhaecht, Adam van Noort, Otto Vaenius, Leonardo da Vinci.
He Traveled To Italy, Spain, France, England.
Painters Peter Paul Rubens Influenced: Anthony van Dyck, Rembrandt, Thomas Gainsborough, Eugène Delacroix.
Artist Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist.