Because Flanders was still under the sway of Spain at the time, the State and the Catholic Church were the two institutions that sponsored artists. Rubens was lucky enough to benefit from this funding and received eight years of training. In Italy, he studied Renaissance painting. He received a regency appointment to become a court painter, and as a result, his painting career flourished dramatically. In Antwerp, he had a big studio, which became well-known for supplying popular and noble paintings to Europe.
Rubens the Diplomat
Rubens seems to have been quite attractive. His physical characteristics have been described as pleasant and beautiful with a tall height, pink cheeks, and sparkling eyes. These features seem to have helped him play a diplomatic role in 17th-century European affairs. He rose to prominence as a diplomat, earning the respect of the monarchs of Spain and England. In fact, he’s been commissioned to paint for Marie de Medici and Felipe IV.
His art is renowned for its flamboyant Baroque flair. It often features movement, emotion, color, and sensuality. The artist’s legacy lives on in his counter-reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and nobility in historical paintings. “The Elevation of the Cross,” (seen below) a triptych painted in 1609-1610, is one of his most renowned works. As the title suggests, it depicts Jesus Christ as his cross was being raised. With the artist’s way of capturing movement and the human body, the characters in the painting look incredibly strong and muscular. Through the painting, Rubens’ creative abilities have created an impact on the spectators’ eyes. The artwork on the left side depicts high-contrast lighting of Christ’s body and elicits feelings similar to those elicited when a person reads a certain Bible passage.
A Family Man
Rubens has been married twice. The first time was to a woman named Isabella, with whom he had three children. After her passing, the 53 years old artist married her niece, Helen, who was only 16 years old at the time. Helen is said to have inspired his signature voluptuous female figures, like the ones you see in some of his famous works such as “The Feast of Venus” (see below) and “The Three Graces”. He had five children with her, the last of which was born eight months after his 1640 passing.