RUBENS, roo'benz, Peter Paul, Flemish painter : b. Siegen, Westphalia, 29 June 1577; d. Antwerp, 30 May 1640. He was (or, accord ing to some, at Cologne) of good citizen family who had gone from Antwerp to Cologne on ac count of religious oppression, and who, while these, had become the steward of Anne, wife of William of Orange-Nassau, the famous liberator of the United Provinces. He was compelled to remove to Siegen, a small town, because of of fenses committed, and it was not until his death in 15:: that the widow was able to return to Antwerp. There the boy studied in the Jesuit College and was page to a lady of rank. He studied art first with Tobias van der Haegt, and afterward with Adam van Noort, but his chief master was Otto van Veen (called Otto Vaenieus). With this artist, who was court vain' ter to the Regent of the Netherlands under Spain, the Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia, Rubens, rernained• Iron. 1596 4p 16A0: and 'at the end of that. Period
time went to •taly. It is evident' that he had the, best intredeetionel and•yet the ;young :man's courteous manners and liberal training, as well as his great ability as a painter of portraits, must have made him welcome at once. • At Venice he met the famous and magnificent Duke of Mantua, Vincenzo Gonzaga, who at once employed him, sending him first to Rome, placing him near his own person at his• own pal ace in Mantua, and sending him to. Spain in 1603. While in Mantua he painted the famous triple altar-piece for the Prince's chapel: .a work of which the greater part of the middle composition is in the church of Saint Trinita in Mantua, one wing at Nancy in the Provincial Museum, and one at Antwerp.- It was not until 1608 that he returned to the North, finding his mother • dead on his arrival; and settled in Antwerp, his home from that time. It was then that he painted the first .of the two wonder• ful pictures which are in the cathedral of Antwerp, the
of the Crosse; and two years later, for the company of the Arquebt• Biers, its companion, the famous (Descent from the Cross,' which is in itself a perfect embodi-. meat of Rubens' art. He married, and now having property, both from his own inheritance and labor, and ig right of his wife, bought land and built himself a house, of which drawings remain and in which he lived for 30 years in the fashion of a very wealthy burgher; though having, through the practice of his art,
usually close relations with the Infanta's court and the nobility, both Spanish and Flemish. It was in this capacity that he went to Spain on a mission for his patroness, the regent of • the Netherlands, and her husband, the Archduke Albert of Austria, and was sent from Spain to England by the famous Minister, Olivares. It is not to be forgotten that he was looked upon as a subject of the Spanish monarchy, and that in his capacity as a good Catholic he would have felt no objection to this view of the case, though he never took sides strongly against the Protestant rising of many of his country men. In England he was knighted by King Charles I. Finally in 1630, being then in his 54th year, he returned to Antwerp, and married a second time. From this time onward his art employed him almost incessantly, in spite of a short intervention due to religious divi sions between the northern and southern prov inces; and his fame and popularity increased until his death in 1640 in Antwerp. His
Few artists have had so varied a career, with so many other subjects of high interest to interfere with the peaceful pursuit of their art; and yet few artists have approached Rubens in the amount of artistic work done. This is to be accounted for in part by, his •entraordi nary skill and success in assimilating the work of his many assistants (their names are those of men afterward famous in their art, chief among them Jordarns and Van Dyck); but partly also by tuattampled facility of work gained. and which remains unique in the recordt. of the art of painting. In his- earlier days he copied great numbers-of Painting* by. Italian. masters, as .wan.the tom then, and there can be no doubt that his facility and range were greatly increased by this practice. His work done after the age of 30 is uniformly wonderful for his power over all his materials, and all the different processes which enter into painting on a large scale. The fresh and rosy scheme of color which he adopted must have been natural to his instincts; original with him and not derived: moreover, his strong and intelligent drawing, though gained by practice in many schools, was still his own creation. His tendency to excess of action and to the appearance of violence, as in the famous 'Fall of the Rebel Angels,' in Munich, and many similar works, does not seem to imply a headlong or self-forgetful mood; he seems to have been always master of himself, and his paintings were always popular (that is, in sympathy with his times), in style and management. He became in this way the typical artist of his epoch and the most admired master, the man chosen for great state under talcings in art as well as in diplomacy. It was in this capacity that he was employed by the Queen Dowager of France, widow of Henry TV, to decorate her palace of the Luxembourg in Paris, and the great paintings which are now in the new Hall of Rubens in the Louvre were prepared for that purpose, Studies for them are at Munich.
All the treatises on Flemish painting deal with Rubens. and the dictionaries of artists give him much space. The most important books devoted to him are those by Max Rooses 'Life of Peter Paul Rubens' (Antwerp 1903; Eng. trans., 2 vols., Philadelphia 1904), and by Emile Michel, translated into English as 'Rubens, his Life, his Work, and his Time' (2 vols., New York 1899). This book is very richly illustrated. The collections of artists' biographies do not always contain Ruben? biography; but an excellent life of him by Charles W. Kett is included in the series called 'Illustrated Biographies of Great Artists' (1878-79). There are many books published in Iflelgium, either in French or in Flemish, which deal with the different stages in his remarkable career, and some of these are readily accessible. The essay on Rubens in