Peter Paul Rubens
Flemish Baroque painter



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Peter Paul Rubens
Flemish Baroque painter

Birth Date

June 28, 1577

Death Date

May 30, 1640


Intelligent, diplomatic, and attractive are all worlds we could use to describe Peter Paul Rubens.

Sure, some people like to knock him for his proclivity towards little girls, but at the end of the day Rubens was still a master of intellect and paint. (And a pedo.)

Rubens was a classically educated Renaissance humanist scholar, which basically means he knew a whole lot about grammar, history, poetry, philosophy, and the list go goes on for days. Basically, Rubens was a raging intellectual who just happened to be known for his stunning portraits and mythological paintings.

Perhaps something besides his intellect was raging when he made the decision to take a 16-year-old girl for his wife. Oh wait; did I mention he was a spry lad of 53 at the time? Feel free to cringe, we all are. I guess statutory rape laws weren't quite up to snuff in 17th century. In all fairness though, the average life expectancy in Europe in the 1600’s was 35 so maybe Rubens was just trying to secure himself some solid years of happy matrimony before one of them dropped dead from some obscure disease. Hip hip hooray for living in the age of modern medicine!

Rubens spent his early years blissfully working in Italy until he heard that his mother had fallen ill in 1608, at which point he decided to move to Antwerp, Belgium, to be with his mother before her passing. Sadly, he didn’t make it in time and Rubens found himself back in his native land with not even a mother’s love. Poor Rubens decided to make the best of it though, and opened a studio in which to work and train the newer generations of artists, such as Anthony van Dyck.

He created 1,403 pieces in his life, many of which were of his favorite subject, thick fleshy women! Rubens once said, “I paint a woman's big rounded buttocks so that I want to reach out and stroke the dimpled flesh.” So besides being a manther, Rubens was also a chubby chaser. Perhaps the kings of Spain and England decided to overlook his personal fetishes when they decided to knight him.

In 1640, Rubens died of heart failure, which was the result of chronic gout. Yes, chronic toe arthritis brought on the death of one of the greatest Flemish Baroque painters. See what I mean about the joys of modern medicine?

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Peter Paul Rubens

Sir Peter Paul Rubens (/ˈrbənz/;Dutch: [ˈrybə(n)s]; 28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640) was a Flemish artist. He is considered the most influential artist of Flemish Baroque tradition. Rubens' highly charged compositions reference erudite aspects of classical and Christian history. His unique and immensely popular Baroque style emphasized movement, color, and sensuality, which followed the immediate, dramatic artistic style promoted in the Counter-Reformation. Rubens specialized in making altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects.

In addition to running a large studio in Antwerp that produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically educated humanist scholar and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV of Spain and Charles I of England. Rubens was a prolific artist. The catalogue of his works by Michael Jaffé lists 1,403 pieces, excluding numerous copies made in his workshop.

His commissioned works were mostly "history paintings", which included religious and mythological subjects, and hunt scenes. He painted portraits, especially of friends, and self-portraits, and in later life painted several landscapes. Rubens designed tapestries and prints, as well as his own house. He also oversaw the ephemeral decorations of the royal entry into Antwerp by the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria in 1635.

His drawings are predominantly very forceful and without great detail. He also made great use of oil sketches as preparatory studies. He was one of the last major artists to make consistent use of wooden panels as a support medium, even for very large works, but he used canvas as well, especially when the work needed to be sent a long distance. For altarpieces he sometimes painted on slate to reduce reflection problems.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Peter Paul Rubens.