Peter Paul Rubens

Here are 10 things you might

not have known about 

the Flemish master.

Here are 10 things you might not have known about the Flemish master.

Self-Portrait , 1623

Self-Portrait , 1623

Did you know?

Peter Paul Rubens was a Flemish artist . Considered one of the greatest and most influential painters of the Baroque period , he is best known for his inventive and dynamic depictions of mythological, allegorical and religious subjects.

01

A polyglot. He could write and speak 5 languages : Italian, Flemish, French, Latin and English.

01

A polyglot. He could write and speak 5 languages : Italian, Flemish, French, Latin and English.

02

A prolific artist. Although we do not know the exact number he produced, the catalog by Michael Jaffe (1989) attributes over 1,400 works to him.

02

A prolific artist. Although we do not know the exact number he produced, the catalog by Michael Jaffe (1989) attributes over 1,400 works to him.

Rubenshuis in Antwerp, Belgium

Rubenshuis in Antwerp, Belgium

03

An architect. He was a connoisseur of architecture and he drew the plans for the renovation of his own home . Now a museum, you can visit the Rubenshuis in Antwerp.

03

An architect. He was a connoisseur of architecture and he drew the plans for the renovation of his own home . Now a museum, you can visit the Rubenshuis in Antwerp.

04

An art collector. Among his collection, you can find 324 paintings , 7 ivory sculptures and an Egyptian mummy .

04

An art collector. Among his collection, you can find 324 paintings , 7 ivory sculptures and an Egyptian mummy .

Portrait of King Philip IV of Spain , c. 1628–29

Portrait of King Philip IV of Spain , c. 1628–29

05

A spy? Commissions to paint military and political leaders Rubens drew from his Antwerp home to London, Madrid, Paris and Rome. The Spanish crown, recognizing the value of his easy access to figures of power, enlisted him into “diplomatic” service .

05

A spy? Commissions to paint military and political leaders Rubens drew from his Antwerp home to London, Madrid, Paris and Rome. The Spanish crown, recognizing the value of his easy access to figures of power, enlisted him into “diplomatic” service .

06

A diplomat. Rubens acted as a negotiator during the Eighty Years’ War (1568–1648). In 1621, he represented the interests of Isabella Clara Eugenia, ruler of the Spanish Low Countries, in the search for peace with the Dutch provinces of the north, which professed the Protestant faith and opposed Spanish rule. He also played an important role in the settlement of peace between England and Spain in 1630. 

06

A diplomat. Rubens acted as a negotiator during the Eighty Years’ War (1568–1648). In 1621, he represented the interests of Isabella Clara Eugenia, ruler of the Spanish Low Countries, in the search for peace with the Dutch provinces of the north, which professed the Protestant faith and opposed Spanish rule. He also played an important role in the settlement of peace between England and Spain in 1630. 

07

A Sir. His diplomatic skills earned him a knighthood —twice, in fact, from both Philip IV of Spain and Charles I of England. That’s why he is referred to as “ Sir Peter Paul Rubens .”

07

A Sir. His diplomatic skills earned him a knighthood —twice, in fact, from both Philip IV of Spain and Charles I of England. That’s why he is referred to as “ Sir Peter Paul Rubens .”

Descent from the Cross , 1618.

Descent from the Cross , 1618.

08

A devout Catholic. Rubens would go to Mass twice a day . He contributed significantly to the artistic beauty of Catholic churches. 

08

A devout Catholic. Rubens would go to Mass twice a day . He contributed significantly to the artistic beauty of Catholic churches. 

Anthony van Dyck painted by Rubens in 1627/1628

Anthony van Dyck painted by Rubens in 1627/1628

09

A mentor. Rubens built a studio in his house and welcomed numerous students and assistants. His most famous pupil was the young Anthony van Dyck .

09

A mentor. Rubens built a studio in his house and welcomed numerous students and assistants. His most famous pupil was the young Anthony van Dyck .

Rubens with Helena Fourment and their son Peter Paul, 1639.

Rubens with Helena Fourment and their son Peter Paul, 1639.

10

A husband. His first wife, Isabella Brand, passed away in 1626. He remarried in 1630 at the age of 53 to his first wife’s niece, 16-year-old Helena Fourment . It is said that she became a curvy woman and inspired the voluptuous female figures depicted in his later works. 

10

A husband. His first wife, Isabella Brand, passed away in 1626. He remarried in 1630 at the age of 53 to his first wife’s niece, 16-year-old Helena Fourment . It is said that she became a curvy woman and inspired the voluptuous female figures depicted in his later works. 

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