Peter Paul Rubens – old master of Antwerp


Peter Paul Rubens is Antwerp’s most famous son and the prolific baroque painter is famous the world over for his pieces that glow with colour and movement. Tomas Mowlam looks at the best places to see his work in Antwerp.

Rubens was born in Germany in 1577 and returned to the family home in Belgium in 1589, following the death of his father.

From 1600 – 1608 Rubens travelled through Italy, where he became influenced by the paintings of Italian masters such as Titian, Veronese and Tintoretto.

He returned to Antwerp in 1609, where he married and became court painter to Albert and Isabella, governors of the Low Countries.

He painted dozens of commissions for the royal families and nobles of Europe. His works shine with colour, and those of hunting scenes and battles have a whirling and captivating energy.

His villa and workshops are now a museum dedicated to him, the Rubenshuis. It shows many portraits and self-portraits by the master himself, as well as work by his apprentices and contemporaries.

It also offers a fascinating glimpse of the man himself, and his way of working, with authentic 17th Century artefacts, sketches, half finished paintings and illustrations.

Many of his pieces can still be found around Antwerp; at the Carolus Borromeus church which he designed, as well as St. Pauls, the little St Jacobskerk, where Rubens and his family are buried.

The most impressive masterpieces are in the Cathedral of Our Lady. In its own right one of the most awe inspiring churches in Europe, it took 169 years to build and stands 123 metres high, and inside is the breathtaking Raising of the Cross and the Descent from the Cross.

The Rubenshuis is open from 10 am until 5pm, Tuesday until Sunday.

Image Credit: dbking

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