Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) Automatic translate
The great artist Peter Paul Rubens was born on June 28, 1577, by the will of fate, away from the homeland of his ancestors - in the small German town of Siegen (Westfalen). The sixth child of lawyer Jan Rubens and the merchant daughter Maria Papelinks was destined to become the leader of the emerging new aesthetics and art of Flanders - a state that, by the year the painter was born, did not even exist on the political map of the world. Only in 1609, the long-awaited truce was concluded between Spain, Holland and Flanders, which laid the foundation for the revival of a country destroyed by many years of war.
In Flanders, as in many states of medieval Europe, the Catholic Church played a major role in the life of the state, coupled with the feudal nobility supporting it and the highest stratum of burghers. It was these layers of high society that were the main customers of works of art. Because of what, majestic altar images created by order of the Catholic Church and large-format paintings designed to decorate the castles and city palaces of noble Antwerp were widely used in Flemish painting. The main genres in art were mythological scenes, biblical subjects, magnificent still lifes, ceremonial portraits and hunting scenes.
Jan Rubens was a representative of an old Antwerp family. His flight to Germany in 1586 was caused by a sympathetic attitude towards Protestantism. Initially, the family settled in Cologne, where a respected lawyer received the position of attorney Anna Saxon, the wife of William I of Orange, who was the leader of the Dutch resistance. Soon, between the lawyer and the princess there was a love affair, ending in the birth of their daughter. The scandal that erupted nearly killed Jan Rubens - he was sentenced to death by Wilhelm, which is fully consistent with the laws of that time. Only by the incredible efforts of his wife Rubens, he was able to free himself from prison in prison to go into exile in the small town of Siegen. The whole family lived there until the death of Jan Rubens, who died at fifty-seven years after a long illness. Only after that, in 1578, Mary was able to return to Antwerp with her three youngest children - sons Peter and Philip and daughter Blandina.
Return to Antwerp
In Antwerp, Peter and Philip were sent to study at the Latin school of Rombouts Verdonka, in which they remained until 1590. Soon their sister got married, and his mother sent Philip to the University of Louvain so that he could follow in his father’s footsteps and become a respected lawyer. And the younger Peter, as was customary in noble but not wealthy families, entered the service of a page to Margarita de Lin, widow of Count Philip de Dalen. There, Rubens learned court etiquette and exquisite manners, and also realized that his only vocation was painting. Although, for the mother to allow Peter to get the profession of an artist, the young man took a lot of time.
In the first teachers of her son, Maria chose her distant relatives - the artists Tobias Verhacht (1561-1631) and Adam Van North (1561-1641). The second of them was really a wonderful painter, highly respected by his contemporaries, but he was known as a wayward person who treated his students quite rudely. Soon Rubens entered the workshop of Otto van Weet (Venius) (1556-1629) - the most famous Antwerp painter. The teacher had a serious impact on Peter’s perception of artistic aesthetics, instilled in him the skills of thorough study and composition, and developed an interest in the intellectual aspects of painting. Even after becoming an independent artist, joining the Antwerp Guild of St. Luke (in 1598), Rubens continued to improve his art, based on the principles of his last teacher.
Life in Italy
Rubens, like many Flemish painters, including Otto van Weet, was absolutely sure that "the true light of art comes only from Italy." In early May 1600, he rushed towards his dream, obsessed with the idea of falling into this treasury of painting, sculpture and architecture in order to comprehend the very essence of art. Arriving in Italy, the painter worked a lot, studied the technique of old masters, and copied their canvases. He was conquered by the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Correggio, Michelangelo, but the greatest influence was exerted by the works of Titian, as well as by contemporary artists, Michelangelo da Caravaggio and the Carracci brothers.
Rubens understood that in order to become a “great artist”, it is not enough just to study art, you have to immerse yourself in the culture, customs, life of the Italian people. Therefore, at the end of 1600, the artist entered the service of the court painter to the Duke of Mantua Vincenzo I Gonzago, who was known as a kind and meek collector, patron, passionate admirer of art and science. On his behalf, Rubens copied many works of famous masters. In addition to fulfilling his direct duties, the artist often participated in the diplomatic affairs of the duke.
For example, it was Rubens who brought gifts from Vincenzo I to the King of Spain, Philip III and his Prime Minister, Duke of Lerma, in 1603-1604. The walls of the Gonzago Palace were decorated with a whole collection of portraits of "the most beautiful ladies in the world: both princesses and women not titled." A number of portraits of this famous series of historical archives were made by Peter. Unfortunately, the “gallery of beauties” has not survived to the present day, but perhaps it was precisely the reason that the artist was sent to the court of the King of Spain.
Over time, Rubens’s pride began to suffer greatly due to the fact that Gonzago used his talent exclusively to create copies, albeit great, but alien paintings. The artist also did not accept the accepted technique of writing custom portraits, when the face of the model simply fit into the pre-prepared composition scheme from nature.
Having the ability to find his unconventional approach to any genre, no matter how interesting he was, Rubens breathed new life into the strict "canonical" framework of the court portrait, freeing him from the rigidity of writing, the detachment of the model and the frozen composition. The artist introduced movement and life into the portrait genre, added richness of color and enhanced the significance of the surrounding landscape background, making it a worthy expression of monumental art. After spending eight years in Italy, Rubens painted many portraits of aristocrats, for example, Marquise Bridgid Spinola-Dorpa (1606, National Gallery, Washington), “Self-portrait with friends from Mantua” (circa 1606, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne ), as well as a portrait of his patron - the Duke of Mantua.
Superbly developed visual memory, painstaking training and strict discipline allowed the master to achieve such accuracy and hardness of his hand when creating sketches and drawings that among his contemporaries, he was no longer equal. Thanks to this, it was Rubens, contrary to the claims of all the best Italian artists, who received a large order to write an altarpiece for the altar of Chiesa Nuova.
Behind the execution of this order was his disturbing news of a serious illness of his mother. Rubens rushes to Antwerp at the very end of the summer of 1608, but does not have time to catch Mary Papelins alive. The artist was very worried about her death. In memory of the “best of mothers,” he erected a statue on her grave, which he made as an altarpiece for Chiesa Nuova in Rome. But, despite such a tragic occasion, the painter returned to his homeland at a very good moment. Finally, the long-awaited twelve-year peace was concluded with Spain, foreshadowing the country peace and prosperity.
Confidant of the Infanta Isabella
Upon learning of the return of the already very famous painter to his homeland, Archduke Albert and Infanta Isabella, on behalf of the Spanish crown, who ruled Flanders at that time, invited Rubens to serve. And so that the master agreed and did not return to Italy, where he had a stable position and high pay, the ruling couple offered Peter significant concessions and a number of attractive privileges.
So, Rubens was presented with a golden chain, given the honorary position of a court artist, and a high fixed fee was assigned for each work ordered, in addition to which, he was also promised a significant additional reward. Contrary to the rules by which a painter would have to move to Brussels to live in the court of patrons, Rubens was allowed to stay in Antwerp, he was exempted from taxes and the rules of the guild of St. Luke.
No artist could refuse such conditions, so Rubens no longer began to return to Italy. Endowed with a subtle mind, a sense of tact, charm, and the ability to have an interlocutor, the artist made a brilliant career as a diplomat, which was also facilitated by the fact that he constantly communicated with the most influential and wealthy nobles of many countries. The far-sighted infante Isabella perfectly understood that the art of the master gave him free access to many noble royal houses of Europe. She decided to take advantage of this and made Rubens her unofficial messenger. During portraiture sessions, the artist held secret negotiations on behalf of the Spanish crown. Thanks to the preserved historical documents, we can conclude that most of them had a favorable outcome.
Soon the personal life of the master was also adjusted. In 1609, Rubens met with the secretary of the city court in Antwerp, Jan Brant. His young beautiful daughter Isabella won the heart of the artist with her charm Rubens. The thirty-two-year-old artist married her only a few months later, on October 3, 1609. The artist’s happy marriage was based on tender and strong love. Rubens reflected his happiness in the film "Self-portrait with Isabella Brant" (1609-1610, Old Pinakothek, Munich).
The canvas is distinguished by special splendor, virtuosity and brilliance. The painter carefully painted all the jewelry and details of expensive costumes, flaunting an accurate and delicate pattern. On the face of Isabella Brant, sincere joy and happiness are read, emphasized by a gentle, almost imperceptible smile. The artist portrayed himself calmly looking at the viewer. An open look and the right features emphasize the nobility and dignity of Rubens, his aristocracy. And although the self-portrait is close to the classic ceremonial portrait, the artist in his work goes beyond the strict traditional framework of this genre, giving the viewer the opportunity to feel his love and affection for his young wife, their mutual consent and tenderness.
Having created several portraits of his beloved wife, over the long years of their life together, Rubens always portrayed Isabella very truthfully, accurately and with great feeling, leaving the background of the picture dark and blurry so as not to distract the viewer from the face of her beloved woman.
Universal recognition and pedagogical talents
Huge success and recognition brought the painter prosperity, about which his parents, exhausted by their difficult fate, could not even dream of. In 1610, he acquired a spacious house, to which he attached a studio, and decorated the facade with a sculpture, thus realizing his architectural projects created back in Italy. In this stylized palazzo house in Antwerp, the artist settled with his family.
The artist’s debut in his hometown was a large order for the hall of the Antwerp Town Hall - the canvas “Adoration of the Shepherds” (1608, Antwerp). The painting feels a strong influence of Italian painting, with bright black and white contrasts, which were the hallmark of the artistic style of Michelangelo da Caravaggio, which Rubens often used in his works of this period on religious and mythological subjects. Compositional and coloristic construction “Adoration of the Shepherds” almost exactly repeats the canvas Correggio “Night”, with only a few additions. On this occasion, the French artist Delacroix once spoke out, noting that Rubens "had a unique gift to absorb everything else… He was filled with the greatest examples, remodeling them in accordance with the beginning that he carried in himself."
The early works of Rubens on religious subjects also clearly read the rethinking of the Italian experience. Working on orders for the church, the artist never felt constrained by the clear framework of the canons. The performance of two triptychs for the local church: “Exaltation of the Cross” (circa 1610-1611, Antwerp Cathedral) and “Descent from the Cross” (1611-1614, Antwerp Cathedral) brought Rubens the success and glory of the best painter not only of Antwerp, but of the whole of Flanders. It is known that the master conceived the composition “Exaltation of the Cross” back in Italy, but he was able to realize it only at home. The tangible materiality of all objects and the sharp life characteristics of all the heroes of this canvas also indicate the strongest influence of the Italian school. With the works of the great Caravaggio, the work and the obvious inner tension and dynamics of all the poses and gestures of the heroes filled with dramatic expression are related.
The compositional construction of paintings depicting two dramas played at Calvary is strong and significant. Each character has its own individual unique character, most fully revealed through interaction with the environment and other figures. The hands of Jesus, located in the central part of the Exaltation of the Cross canvas, are not spread wide apart, but are extended above the head, His face is distorted by an intolerable attack of pain, his fingers are tightly compressed, the muscles of his whole body are tense. The sharp foreshortenings of all the figures, the tangible efforts of the executioners raising the cross, the restless glare of light and shadow form a single dynamic impulse, uniting nature and man. The artist did everything possible so that the believers looking at this work would not have the slightest doubt about the greatest sacrifice that the son of God made for them.
The “Descent from the Cross” has a completely different internal sound. The plastic, graceful, almost graceful body of Jesus is weightless. Rubens likens His beautiful flower, cut by a ruthless hand. With incredible effort, His close ones strive to maintain the weight of the lifeless body of Christ. Next to Jesus we see his mother and friends, as well as “the most loving and weakest of women, in the fragility, grace and repentance of which all earthly sins, forgiven, felt and now redeemed, are embodied”, located in the foreground of the canvas. In general, the composition is concise, in it we do not see images of unbearable torments, screams, sharp gestures, tears. Our Lady holds back sobs. Only her eyes reddened from tears on her tear-stained face and the restrained gesture of her hands convey her inexpressible sorrow.
In this plot, the painter was attracted by human passions and experiences, which is probably why he, personally experiencing the tragedy of losing a loved one, was so convincingly and brilliantly able to write this work, telling about the sorrows of relatives about the Dead. Unlike The Adoration of the Shepherds, the created triptychs revealed the whole breadth of Rubens’ talent, reflected in the scale of the images, the power of generalization, the deep life content, combined with vivid entertainment - these are the characteristic features of the individual style of the master, which can be seen in all his subsequent works.
So Rubens received from his contemporaries the title of "god of all painters." The huge success of the artist, who struck the public with extraordinary monumentality, expression and drama of his works, attracted many students to him. Soon, the studio of the painter was considered the best professional school in Flanders.
The artist always tried to develop an individual gift in each of his students. But the number of people who wanted to enroll in the Great Rubens training was so great that many had to refuse. Among the “rejected” were even close friends and relatives of the master, which seriously complicated his life. So, in a letter to his friend Jacob de Bi of May 11, 1611, Rubens wrote: “I really cannot accept the young man whom you recommend to me. I am so besieged by requests from all sides that some students have been waiting for other masters for several years so that I can accept them. “I can say with complete truthfulness, and without the slightest exaggeration, that I was forced to reject more than a hundred candidates, including my relatives or relatives of my wife, and this caused deep displeasure of some of my best friends.” Also, the number of orders from the painter was insanely large.
To fulfill many of his orders, Rubens was forced to attract his students. The German artist Joachim von Zandrart wrote about this: “Yoon (Rubens) always himself composed the composition of the future painting on a sketch two or three spans high, according to this sketch his students.. painted a picture on canvas, which he then passed with a brush or himself performed the most important places. ” The artist wrote his best works on his own.Zandrart praised Rubens as a teacher. In his treatise on the master, he noted that he always "carefully trained" all his wards and "used them in accordance with their inclinations and abilities." Engravers, architects and sculptors came out of Rubens’ workshop, directed by the artist in the direction to which they were most capable. Many of those who studied in the workshop of the painter subsequently made up the pride and glory of the Flemish school. The most famous of his students are Franz Slider (1579-1657) and Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641).
In the period between 1615-1620, the works of Rubens become even more expressive, acquire compositional complexity, are filled with rapid movement and pronounced features of the Baroque style. Even the works of this period written in dramatic scenes are filled with the fullness and dynamics of being, a life-affirming character that pervades the entire composition. The heroes of these amazing paintings became extremely beautiful spiritually and physically. The artist was attracted by themes telling about the stamina of an unbending human spirit, his ability to exploit, the heroic beginning, for example, the work “The patronage of the Roman woman” and “Christ in the crown of thorns”, both around 1612, the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
For the figure of Jesus in the composition “Christ in the Crown of Thorns” the artist used his early Italian sketch of the widely known ancient sculpture “Centaur”. This technique was no exception, sketches from ancient monuments for many years served him as one of the main sources of inspiration. But in this painting, the exceptional strength of the creative potential of the master was especially clearly expressed.
The figure of Christ, likened to an antique statue, retains a rather intense spirit, characteristic of most of Rubens’ works. It is the expression that the master put into the image of the infinitely tragic figure of Christ, located in the center of the composition, gives the picture an extraordinary sharpness. Having put extraordinary expressiveness into the work, the painter achieved a perfect harmonious contrast of the brightly consecrated body of Jesus and the dark background of the canvas, thus combining the emotional glow with perfect technical techniques.
Being a brilliant connoisseur of ancient art, Rubens showed great interest in mythological subjects. The artist never ceased to admire the life and beauty of the human body. It should be noted that with all this, the painter never copied the images of ancient masters, but rethought the classical ideals, translating them into the "Flemish language". Rubens admired the national beauty of a healthy, flowering, strong human body. Most of all, the artist was interested in the embodiment in the living flesh of a person of his physical power and movement. And the best plots for such a painting could be gleaned from rich Greek mythology. The most famous canvases of this period were Bacchanalia (circa 1615, Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts) and Abduction of Leucippus’ daughters (circa 1618-1620, Old Pinakothek, Munich).
All movements in these paintings are unusually emotional, gesture gestures are emphasized by the rapidly developing clothing fabrics. Rubens lovingly builds complex and spectacular compositions, preferring to use diagonals, ellipses or spirals for them.
So, in the work “The Abduction of Leucippus’ Daughters” both people and horses are depicted at the time of the utmost physical stress. The bodies of young women praying for help form a complex pattern in terms of color rhythms and linear structure. The general, “nervous” silhouette of a group that fits almost perfectly into the circle is disturbed by expressive gestures. The pathos of the work is enhanced by the exceptionally low horizon, thanks to which the figures look even more spectacular, billowing into an excited cloudy sky. The compositional construction is dominated by sharp diagonals that go up.
The great power of love that can overcome any obstacles is depicted by Rubens in the painting Perseus and Andromeda (1620-1621, State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg). Here, Perseus, the son of Danai and Zeus, appears before us as the highest embodiment of a hero capable of any feat. The winner of the sea monster, from whom he saved the beautiful Andromeda, is depicted with the head of Medusa Gorgon on the shield and numerous magical artifacts that help him cope with any obstacles. The intense internal dynamics of each line and form, emphasizes the heroic theme of the work. Excited poses of beautiful characters in the picture are perceived as the echo of a recent battle. The figures of the goddess of glory and cupids add composition to the pathos sound. The coloring of the canvas also contributes to this.Multicolor colorful overflows and airiness are achieved by transitions of surprisingly transparent tones to saturated bright colors, creating a single symphony of the work. The artist translated the well-known mythological story into the living language of Flanders, adding to it many realistic details characteristic of the inhabitants of his country, revealing the contents of the myth in a new way and at the same time losing nothing from the original.
An important place in the art of the XVII century is occupied by portraits of Rubens, relating to the mature period of his work. They reveal all the charm of the artist’s picturesque language. Creating works of this genre, Rubens acts as a true successor of the traditions of the High Renaissance, while limiting himself only to the framework of external resemblance, does not delve into the psychological characteristics and emotional experiences of models. Absolutely all the heroes of the great Flemish are overflowing with life. He interpreted both male and female images as they like to be depicted in portraits of a lady: first adopted canonical beauty, and then individual resemblance. In his portraits, the painter perfectly conveyed all the necessary signs of his era and the position of his models in society.
“Portrait of Queen Maria Medici” (circa 1622, Prado, Madrid) can serve as a vivid example of how Rubens painted women - invariably beautiful complexion, high aristocratic forehead, very neat chin and wide-open shining eyes. Another feature of all the female images created by the painter was elegant fullness, as an invariable attribute of femininity and attractiveness.
“Portrait of the Chamberlain Infanta Isabella” (circa 1625, the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg) also serves as an excellent example of the portraiture of the master. With the help of light golden reflexes, cold highlights and transparent shadows, the artist conveys the bright charm of a cheerful young girl. Rubens generously enriched the characterization of his models by affirming their social role. An important place in the compositional structure of the ceremonial portrait was played by details, such as turning the head, a spectacular look, the position of the figure in space, a festive atmosphere. He endowed the aristocrats with a sense of superiority and a certain arrogant degree, which at the same time did not deprive them of their vital charm. And the artist revealed all the unsaid nuances with the help of a suit.
True, there were striking exceptions, for example, “Portrait of Elena Furman with Two Children” (circa 1636, Louvre, Paris) has almost no obvious signs of a baroque parade portrait. There are no expensive lush clothes and luxury accessories. But the whole composition of the work is imbued with bright serene happiness. The images of mother and children are full of natural ease and special expressive charm. This portrait has become a real hymn to motherhood and the crucial role of women in the life of every man.
Far from a secondary place in the entire work of the painter was the theme of hunting. Rubens often turned to stories about the struggle between man and nature. No one showed the fierce fights of people and animals as vividly and figuratively as he did.
If earlier, in the works of his predecessors, depicting animals, the main goal was usually to demonstrate their knowledge of the anatomical structure of animals, and their appearance on the canvases, as a rule, was due to mythological or biblical subjects, then they began to play an independent role in Rubens. He created a living world where people and animals fought in a spontaneous battle. All the canvases of this series are imbued with tremendous tension: passions are heated to the limit, excited people and animals violently and fearlessly attack each other.
“The Hunt for Tigers and Lions” (1617-1618, Museum of Fine Arts, Rennes) was written just at the time of the artist’s highest interest in hunting and fighting scenes. From 1615 to 1621, the painter, through such plots, realized the main goal of his art - chanting the dynamism of life and the embodiment of moments of reality, which allowed only a certain fraction of fiction. The artist’s paintings do not make a gloomy impression, they do not emanate from aggression, only by force and power, uncontrollable passion and desire to live.
“There is something delightful in this horror,” wrote his contemporary. Creating his famous hunting scenes, the master played on the feelings of the public, making him empathize with what was happening on the canvas, and also used the audience’s genuine interest in exotic animals.
In the XVII century, Europe only discovered the unknown world of other continents. Everyone has already heard of their existence, but only very few have personally witnessed the Moors, Arabs, Bengal tigers, hippos, African giraffes and Indian elephants. Rubens often observed a similar exoticism in menageries of rich nobles, for whom he performed work or with whom he saw during his diplomatic missions.
The historical cycle for the French monarchs
The political situation in Flanders in the 1620s was extremely tense, but the artist’s life shone with all its colors. He supervised the work of painters and engravers in his workshop, designed books for various publishers for publishers, made cardboard for trellis, and created sketches for sculptural projects and all kinds of products of art crafts. His fame and success boomed throughout Flanders, and soon went far beyond its borders.
This was promoted by the most important order in the life of Rubens, which he received in 1621. In January 1622, the painter went to Paris to fulfill the contract concluded with the mother of Louis XIII, Maria Medici. The essence of the contract was to paint for two galleries of the new palace in Luxembourg at once.
The first part of the paintings was supposed to represent scenes from the life of the queen herself, and the second - scenes telling about the reign of her late husband Henry IV. Unfortunately, the second part of the order has never been executed. But the first of them brought Rubens unprecedented success.
The series of works “The Life of Maria Medici” (1622-1625, the Louvre, Paris) became an exceptional historical work of the artist. The program of images was clearly compiled personally by the Queen, but in the interpretation of the plots, their sequence and the order of the figures in the composition, the painter was given considerable freedom. Having retained the accuracy and reliability in the image of the heroes, their costumes and the environment, Rubens enriched the composition with numerous allegorical details and mythological characters. For example, in the scene where Henry IV receives a very embellished portrait of his bride Maria, there are two winged cupids, as the personification of love and matrimony, and Juno and Jupiter are favorably watching the whole scene, blessing the king with the right choice.
The series includes twenty-four large panels telling us about the political events that took place in France at the beginning of the 17th century. Creating every picture that went into the cycle, Rubens presented it as an independent work, which, at the same time, was also part of the overall plan. All works of the series are marked by theatricality, luxurious splendor and decorativeness characteristic of Baroque art. Despite the fact that the artist had to attract his students to complete the order, the monumental structure of compositions, spectacular landscape and architectural backgrounds, and the elevated color give these works incomparable decorative qualities.
Since 1621, Rubens, managing to work on the cycle of Maria Medici, was constantly on trips related to the diplomatic missions of the Infanta Isabella. During one of his travels, in the middle of 1626, his wife probably died during a plague epidemic. The illustrious artist and diplomat was very upset by the death of Isabella, who was his faithful girlfriend and reliable rear for sixteen years.
But time heals everything, and four years later, having returned to his homeland in Antwerp, Rubens will marry the daughter of one of his friends Elena Furman. The sixteen-year-old beauty captivated the artist with her beauty. He devoted many portraits to her, and her image was often used to paint pictures on mythological subjects.
Harmony and peace
In the late period of his work, the artist was most attracted to the landscape genre. This was facilitated by the acquisition of the rural estate of the Château de Steen, located thirty kilometers south of Antwerp. Most of the landscapes were made by the master "for themselves", without the involvement of students, therefore they are all distinguished by special perfection. The power and heroic power of the images of early works is replaced by calm and harmony of the unity of man and nature. Rubens often writes scenes of peaceful labor of peasants and cheerful rural holidays. In landscape works, the painter develops the traditions of Dutch art, introducing a new ideological value into them.
The earlier painting “The Carrier of the Stones” (circa 1620, the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg) is somewhat dramatic. Rocks in the foreground seem to soar from the bowels of the earth, creating a severe obstacle to people and horses. In the later works of Rubens, intonations change, nature appears before us as a single way of being, where a person lives happily and calmly.
The central theme of the artist’s paintings is rural nature, full of beauty and epic grandeur. His paintings seem to come to life endless expanses, the pristine forces of nature, harmoniously combined with the powerful figures of peasants engaged in their daily work. In the works of “Kermes” (circa 1635, the Louvre, Paris) and “Peasant Dance” (circa 1635-1638, Prado, Madrid) we do not see everyday authenticity, only a generalized type of a strong and beautiful Flemish people, written with love by the master.
Working for his own pleasure, Rubens explored a new technique, trying to show the true nature, not embellished with theatrical effects. John Constable, a distinguished English landscape painter, wrote: “Rubens hasn’t shown his grandeur in any other genre as in landscape.”
All the last years of the master’s life, he was tormented by the severe form of gout. But, even when the left and then the right hands first refused, the artist did not leave the fortitude, optimism and cheerfulness. On May 27, 1640, Rubens made his will, and on May 30 a sharp attack of gout stopped his heart. Received a grandiose recognition during his lifetime, the great "god of painters" died.
Peter Paul Rubens was buried in a most solemn manner. Contemporaries in deep sorrow led him on his last journey. The coffin with the body of the painter was accompanied by the choir of the Church of Our Lady and a solemn procession of sixty torchbearers, and in front of him they carried a golden crown on a pillow of black velvet.
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