Rubens - Flemish School
BORN IN SIEGEN, Westphalia, during a temporary exile of his family, living in Germany until his twelfth year, young Peter Paul Rubens came to Antwerp where he was successively apprenticed to three unimportant masters. At the age of 23 he left upon a tour that took him to Florence, Rome, Mantua, then Spain, then Italy again. Not until eight years later did he return, being honored by an appointment as court painter. He established a workshop, assembled about him a large number of pupils and assistants, and entered upon a career scarcely less notable for the varied activities that it included than for its vast and distinguished achievements in painting. After the death of his first wife, Isabella Brant, in 1626, Rubens entered the diplomatic service of the Archduke Albert and subsequently made several trips to England and Spain. His second wife was Helena Fourment who appears in many of his paintings.
Despite the innumerable and constant distractions which his varied duties entailed, and his genial social gifts invited, the volume of work from Rubens' hand and workshop was immense. He is not only one of the great masters of painting but an enduring influence upon the art of the western world.
Rubens died from gout at the age of 63 at his Castle Steen near Brussels.