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Peter Paul Rubens

Peter Paul RubensAKA Peeter Pauwel Rubens

Born: 28-Jun-1577
Birthplace: Siegen, Westphalia, Germany
Died: 30-May-1640
Location of death: Antwerp, Belgium
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Saint Jakobskirche, Antwerp, Belgium

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Painter

Nationality: Belgium
Executive summary: Flemish baroque painter

Flemish painter, born at Siegen, in Westphalia on the 29th of June 1577. His father, Johannes Rubens, a druggist, although of humble descent was a man of learning, and councillor and alderman in his native town. A Roman Catholic by birth, he became a zealous upholder of the Reformation, and we find him spoken of as le plus docte Calviniste qui fust pour lors au Bas Pays. After the plundering of the Antwerp churches in 1566, the magistrates were called upon for a justification. While openly they declared themselves devoted sons of the church, a list of the followers of the Reformed creed, headed by the name of Anthony Van Stralen, the burgomaster, got into the hands of the duke of Alva. This was a sentence of death for the magistrates, and Johannes Rubens lost no time in leaving Spanish soil, ultimately settling at Cologne (October 1568) with his wife and four children.

In his new residence he became legal adviser to Anne of Saxony, the second wife of the prince of Orange, William the Silent. Before long it was discovered that their relations were not purely of a business kind. Thrown into the dungeons of Dillenburg, Rubens lingered there for many months, his wife, Maria Pypelincx, never relaxing her endeavors to get the undutiful husband restored to freedom. Two years elapsed before the prisoner was released, and then only to be confined to the small town of Siegen. Here he lived with his family from 1573 to 1578, and here Maria Pypelincx gave birth to Philip, afterwards town clerk of Antwerp, and Peter Paul. A year after (May 1578) the Antwerp lawyer got leave to return to Cologne, where he died on the 18th of March 1587, after having, it is said, returned to Roman Catholicism.

Rubens went to Antwerp with his mother when he was scarcely ten years of age. He was an excellent Latin scholar, and also proficient in French, Italian, Spanish, English, German and Dutch. Part of his boyhood he spent as a page in the household of the countess of Lalaing, in Brussels; but tradition adds that his mother allowed him to follow his proper vocation, choosing as his master Tobias Verhaecht. Not the slightest trace of this first master's influence can be detected in Rubens' works. Not so with Adam Van Noort, to whom the young man was next apprenticed. Van Noort, whose aspect of energy is well known through Anthony Van Dyck's beautiful etching, was the highly esteemed master of numerous painters -- among them Van Balen, Sebastian Vrancx, and Jordaens, later his son-in-law.

Rubens remained with Van Noort for the usual period of four years, thereafter studying under Otto Vaenius or Van Veen, a gentleman by birth, a most distinguished Latin scholar and a painter of very high repute. He was a native of Leiden, and only recently settled in Antwerp. Though Rubens never adopted his style of painting, the tastes of master and pupil had much in common, and some pictures by Otto Vaenius can be pointed out as having inspired Rubens at a more advanced period. For example, the "Magdalene anointing Christ's Feet", painted for the cathedral at Malaga, and now at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, closely resembles in composition the very important work of Otto Vaenius in the church at Bergues near Dunkirk.

In 1598, Adam Van Noort acting as dean of the Antwerp guild of painters, Rubens was officially recognized as "master" -- that is, was allowed to work independently and receive pupils. His style at this early period may be judged from the by no means satisfactory "Holy Trinity" at Antwerp Museum, which already shows his bold, vigorous handling, and the "Portrait of a Youth" in the Munich Pinakothek.

From 1600 to the latter part of 1608 Rubens belonged to the household of Vincenzo Gonzaga, duke of Mantua. The duke, who spent some time at Venice in July 1600, had his attention drawn by one of his courtiers to Rubens' genius, and immediately induced him to enter his service. The influence of the master's stay at Mantua was of extreme importance, and cannot be too constantly kept in view in the study of his later works.

Sent to Rome in 1601, to take copies from Raphael for his master, he was also commissioned to paint several pictures for the church of Santa Croce, by the archduke Albrecht of Austria, sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands, and once, when he was a cardinal, the titular of that see. A copy of "Mercury and Psyche" after Raphael is preserved in the museum at Budapest. The religious paintings -- "The Invention of the Cross", "The Crowning with Thorns" and "The Crucifixion" -- are to be found in the hospital at Grasse in Provence (Alpes Maritimes).

At the beginning of 1603, "The Fleming", as he was termed at Mantua, was sent to Spain with a variety of presents for Philip III and his minister the duke of Lerma, and thus had opportunity to spend a whole year at Madrid and become acquainted with some of Titian's masterpieces. Of his own works, known to belong to the same period, in the Madrid Gallery, are "Heraclitus" and "Democritus." Of Rubens' abilities so far back as 1604 we get a more complete idea from an immense picture now in the Antwerp Gallery, the "Baptism of Our Lord", originally painted for the Jesuits at Mantua. Here it may be seen to what degree Italian surroundings had influenced the household painter of Vincenzo Gonzaga. Vigorous to the extreme in design, he reminds us of Michelangelo as much as any of the degenerate masters of the Roman school while in decorative skill he seems to be descended from Titian and in coloring from Giulio Romano. Equally with this picture, "The Transfiguration", now in the museum at Nancy, and the portraits of "Vincenzo and his Consort, kneeling before the Trinity", in the library at Mantua, claim a large share of attention.

Two years later we meet a very large altarpiece of "The Circumcision" at St. Ambrogio at Genoa, the "Virgin in a Glory of Angels", and two groups of Saints, painted on the wall, at both sides of the high altar in the church of Santa Maria in Valicella in Rome. These works remind us of a saying of Baglione, who was acquainted with Rubens in Italy: Apprese egli buon gusto, e diede in una maniera buona Italiana.

While employed at Rome in 1608, Rubens received most alarming news as to the state of his mother's health. The duke of Mantua was then absent from Italy, but the dutiful son, without awaiting his return, at once set out for the Netherlands. When he arrived in Antwerp, Maria Pypelincx was no more. However strong his wish might now be to return to Italy, his purpose was overruled by the express desire of his sovereigns, Albrecht and Isabella, to see him take up a permanent residence in the Belgian provinces. On the 3rd of August 1609 Rubens was named painter in ordinary to their Highnesses, with a salary of 500 livres, and "the rights, honors, privileges, exemptions", etc., belonging to persons of the royal household, not to speak of the gift of a gold chain. Not least in importance for the painter was his complete exemption from all the regulations of the guild of St. Luke, entitling him to engage any pupils or fellow workers without being obliged to have them enrolled -- a favor which has been of considerable trouble to the historians of Flemish art.

Although so recently returned to his native land, Rubens seems to have been, with one accord, accepted by his countrymen as the head of their school, and the municipality was foremost in giving him the means of proving his acquirements. The first in date among the numerous repetitions of the "Adoration of the Magi" is a picture in the Madrid Gallery, measuring 12 by 17 feet, and containing no fewer than 28 life-size figures, many in gorgeous attire, warriors in steel armor, horsemen, slaves, camels, etc. This picture, painted in Antwerp at the town's expense in 1609, had scarcely remained three years in the town hail when it went to Spain as a present to Don Rodrigo Calderon, count of Oliva. The painter has represented himself among the horsemen, bareheaded, and wearing his gold chain. From a letter written in May 1611 we know that more than a hundred young men were desirous to become his pupils, and that many had, "for several years", been waiting with other masters until he could admit them to his studio.

Apart from the success of his works, another powerful motive had helped to detain the master in Antwerp - his marriage with Isabella Brant (October 1609). Many pictures have made us familiar with the graceful young woman who was for seventeen years to share the master's destinies. We meet her at the Hague, St. Petersburg, Berlin, Florence, at Grosvenor House, but more especially at Munich, where Rubens and his wife are depicted at full length on the same canvas. "His wife is very handsome", observes Joshua Reynolds, "and has an agreeable countenance"; but the picture, he adds, "is rather hard in manner." This, it must be noted, is the case with all those pictures known to have immediately followed Rubens' return, when he was still dependent on the assistance of painters trained by others than himself. Even in the "Raising of the Cross", now in the Antwerp cathedral, and painted for the church of St. Walburga in 1610, the dryness in outline is very striking.

According to the taste still at that time prevailing, the picture is tripartite, but the wings only serve to develop the central composition, and add to the general effect. In Witdoeck's beautiful engraving the partitions even disappear. Thus, from the first, we see Rubens quite determined upon having his own way, and it is recorded that, when he painted the "Descent from the Cross", "St. Christopher", the subject chosen by the Arquebusiers, was altered so as to bring the artistic expressions into better accordance with his views. Although the subject was frequently repeated by the great painter, this first "Descent from the Cross" has not ceased to be looked upon as his masterpiece. Begun in 1611, the celebrated work was placed in 1614, and certainly no more striking evidence could be given of the rapid growth of the painter's abilities. Rubens received 2400 florins for this picture. In many respects, Italian influence remains conspicuous in the "Descent from the Cross." Rubens had seen Ricciarelli's fresco at the Trinita de' Monti, and was also acquainted with the grandiose picture of Baroccio in the cathedral of Perugia, and no one conversant with these works can mistake their influence. But in Rubens strength of personality could not be overpowered by reminiscence; and in type, as well as in coloring, the "Descent from the Cross" may be termed thoroughly Flemish and Rubenesque.

If Sir Dudley Carleton could speak of Antwerp in 1616 as Magna civitas, magna solitudo, there was no place nevertheless which could give a wider scope to artistic enterprise. Spain and the United Provinces were for a time at peace; almost all the churches had been stripped of their adornments; monastic orders were powerful and richly endowed, guilds and corporations eager to show the fervor of their Catholic faith, now that the "monster of heresy" seemed forever quelled. Gothic churches began to be decorated according to the new fashion adopted in Italy. Altars magnified to monuments, sometimes reaching the full height of the vaulted roof, displayed, between their twisted columns, pictures of a size hitherto unknown. No master seemed better fitted to be associated with this kind of painting than Rubens. The temple erected by the reverend fathers in Antwerp was almost entirely the painter's work, and if he did not, as we often find asserted, design the front, he certainly was the inspirer of the whole building. Hitherto no Fleming had undertaken to paint ceilings with foreshortened figures, and blend the religious with the decorative art after the style of those buildings which are met with in Italy, and owe their decorations to masters like Titian, Veronese and Tintoretto. No fewer than forty ceiling-panels were composed by Rubens, and painted under his direction in the space of two years. All were destroyed by fire in 1718. Sketches in watercolor were taken some time before the disaster by de Wit, and from these were made the etchings by Du Pont which alone enable us to form a judgment of the grandiose undertaking. In the Madrid Gallery we find a general view of the church in all its splendor. The present church of St. Charles in Antwerp is, externally, with some alteration, the building here alluded to.

Rubens delighted in undertakings of the vastest kind. "The large size of a picture", he writes to W. Trumbull in 1621, "gives us painters more courage to represent our ideas with the utmost freedom and semblance of reality... I confess myself to be, by a natural instinct, better fitted to execute works of the largest size." The correctness of this appreciation he was very soon called upon to demonstrate most strikingly by a series of twenty-four pictures, illustrating the life of Marie de Medici, queen-mother of France. The gallery at the Luxembourg Palace, which these paintings once adorned, has long since disappeared, and the complete work is not exhibited in the Louvre. Drawings, it seems, had been asked from Quentin Varin, the French master who incited Poussin to become a painter, but Rubens was ultimately preferred. This preference may in some degree be ascribed to his former connection with the court at Mantua, Marie de Medici and the duchess of Gonzaga being sisters. From the cradle to the day of her reconciliation with Louis XIII, we follow Marie de Medici after the manner in which it was customary in those days to consider personages of superior rank. The Fates for her have spun the silken and golden thread; Juno watches over her birth and entrusts her to the town of Florence; Minerva, the Graces and Apollo take charge of her education; Love exhibits her image to the king, and Neptune conveys her across the seas; Justice, Health and Plenty endow her son; Prudence and Generosity are at her sides during the regency; and, when she resigns the helm of the state to the prince, Justice, Strength, Religion and Fidelity hold the oars. The sketches of all these paintings -- now in the Munich Gallery -- were painted in Antwerp, a numerous staff of distinguished collaborators being entrusted with the final execution. But the master himself spent much time in Paris, retouching the whole work, which was completed within less than four years. On the 13th of May 1625, Rubens writes from Paris to his friend Peiresc that both the queen and her son are highly satisfied with his paintings, and that Louis XIII came on purpose to the Luxembourg, "where he never has set foot since the palace was begun sixteen or eighteen years ago." We also gather from this letter that the picture representing the "Felicity of the Regency" was painted to replace another, the "Departure of the Queen", which had caused some offense. Cardinal Richelieu gave himself some trouble to get part of the work, intended to represent the life of Henri IV, bestowed upon Cavalier d'Arpina, but did not succeed in his endeavors. The queen's exile, however, prevented the undertaking from going beyond a few sketches, and two or three panels, one of which, the "Triumph of Henri IV", now in the Uffizi Gallery, is one of the noblest works of Rubens or of any master.

On the 11th of May 1625, Rubens was present at the nuptials of Henrietta Maria at Notre Dame in Paris, when the scaffolding on which he stood gave way, and he tells us he was just able to catch an adjoining tribune.

No painter in Europe could now pretend to equal Rubens either in talent or in renown. Month after month productions of amazing size left the Antwerp studio; and to those unacquainted with the master's pictures magnificent engravings by Vorsterman, Pontius and others had conveyed singularly striking interpretations. "Whatever work of his I may require", writes Moretus, the celebrated Antwerp printer, "I have to ask him six months before, so as that he may think of it at leisure, and do the work on Sundays or holidays; no week days of his could I pretend to get under a hundred florins."

Of the numerous creations of his brush, none, perhaps, will more thoroughly disclose to us Rubens' comprehension of religious decorative art than the "Assumption of the Virgin" at the high altar of Antwerp cathedral, finished in 1625. It is, of twenty repetitions of this subject, the only example still preserved at the place for which it was intended. In spirit we are here reminded of Titian's "Assunta" in the cathedral at Verona, but Rubens' proves perhaps a higher conception of the subject. The work is seen a considerable way off, and every outline is bathed in light, so that the Virgin is elevated to dazzling glory with a power of ascension scarcely, if ever, attained by any master.

Although able to rely so greatly on his power as a colorist, Rubens is not a mere decorator. He penetrates into the spirit of his subjects more deeply than at first sight seems consistent with his prodigious facility in execution. The "Massacre of the Innocents", in the Munich Gallery, is a composition that can leave no person unmoved -- mothers defending their children with nails and teeth. When St. Francis attempts to shelter the universe from the Savior's wrath (Brussels Gallery), Rubens recalls to our memory that most dramatic passage of the Iliad when Hecuba, from the walls of Troy, entreats her son Hector to spare his life. Rubens was a man of his time; his studies of Italian art in no way led him back to the Quattrocentisti nor the Raffaeleschi; their power was at an end. The influence of Michelangelo, Titian, Tintoretto, more especially Baroccio, Polidoro, and even Parmigiano, is no less visible with him than with those masters who, like Spranger, C. Schwartz and Goltzius, stood high in public estimation immediately before his advent.

In the midst of the rarest activity as a painter, Rubens was now called upon to give proofs of a very different kind of ability. The truce concluded between Spain and the Netherlands in 1609 ended in 1621; Archduke Albrecht died the same year. His widow sincerely wished to prolong the arrangement, still hoping to see the United Provinces return to the Spanish dominion, and in her eyes Rubens was the fittest person to bring about this conclusion. The painter's comings and goings, however, did not remain unheeded, for the French ambassador writes from Brussels in 1624 -- "Rubens is here to take the likeness of the prince of Poland, by order of the infanta. I am persuaded he will succeed better in this than in his negotiations for the truce." But, if Rubens was to fail in his efforts to bring about an arrangement with the Netherlands, other events enabled him to render great service to the state.

Rubens and Buckingham met in Paris in 1625; a correspondence of some importance had been going on between the painter and the Brussels court, and before long it was proposed that he should endeavor to bring about a final arrangement between the Crowns of England and Spain. The infanta willingly consented, and King Philip, who much objected to the interference of an artist, gave way on hearing, through his aunt, that the negotiator on the English side, Sir Balthasar Gerbier -- a Fleming by birth -- was likewise a painter. Rubens and Gerbier very soon met in Holland. Matters went on very well, and Rubens volunteered to go to Spain and lay before the council the result of his negotiations (1628). Nine months were thus spent at Madrid; they rank among the most important in Rubens' career. He had brought with him eight pictures of various sizes and subjects as presents from the infanta, and he was also commissioned to paint several portraits of the king and royal family. An equestrian picture of Philip IV, destroyed by fire in the 19th century, became the subject of a poem by Lope de Vega, and the description enables us to identify the composition with that of a painting now in the Palazzo Pitti, ascribed to Velázquez.

Through a letter to Peiresc we hear of the familiar intercourse kept up between the painter and the king. Philip delighted to see Rubens at work in the studio prepared for him in the palace, where he not only left many original pictures, but copied for his own pleasure and profit the best of Titian's. An artistic event of some importance connected with the sojourn in Spain is the meeting of Rubens and Velázquez, to the delight, and, it may be added, advantage of both.

Great as was the king's admiration of Rubens as a painter, it seems to have been scarcely above the value attached to his political services. He now commissioned the painter to go to London as bearer of his views to Charles I, and Rubens, honored with the title of secretary of the king's privy council in the Netherlands, started at once on his new mission. Although he stopped but four days in Antwerp, be arrived in London just as peace had been concluded with France. Received by Charles with genuine pleasure, he very soon was able to ingratiate himself so far as to induce the king to pledge his royal word to take part in no undertakings against Spain so long as the negotiations remained unconcluded, and all the subsequent endeavors of France, Venice and the States found the king immovable in this resolution. The tardiness of the Spanish court in sending a regular ambassador involved the unfortunate painter in distressing anxieties, and the tone of his despatches is very bitter. But he speaks with the greatest admiration of England and the English, regretting that he should only have come to know the country so late. His popularity must have been very great, for on the 23rd of September 1629 the university of Cambridge conferred upon him the honorary degree of master of arts, and on the 21st of February 1630 he was knighted, the king presenting him with the sword used at the ceremony, which is still preserved by the descendants of the artist.

Although, it seems, less actively employed as an artist in England than in Spain, Rubens, besides his sketches for the decoration of the Banqueting Hall at Whitehall, painted the admirable picture of "The Blessings of Peace" now in the National Gallery. There is no reason to doubt, with Smith, that "His Majesty sat to him for his portrait, yet it is not a little remarkable that no notice occurs in any of the royal catalogues, or the writers of the period, of the existence of such a portrait." While in England, Rubens very narrowly escaped drowning while going to Greenwich in a boat. The fact is reported by Lord Dorchester in a letter to Sir Isaac Wake. At the beginning of March the painter's mission came to a close.

Rubens was now fifty-three years of age; he had been four years a widower, and before the end of the year (December 1630) he entered into a second marriage with a beautiful girl of sixteen, named Helena Fourment. She was an admirable model, and none of her husband's works may be more justly termed masterpieces than those in which she is represented (Munich, St. Petersburg, Blenheim, Liechtenstein, the Louvre, etc.).

Although the long months of absence could not be termed blanks in Rubens' artistic career, his return was followed by an almost incredible activity. Inspired mere than ever by the glorious works of Titian, he now produced some of his best paintings. Brightness in coloring, breadth of touch and pictorial conception, are specially striking in those works we know to have been painted in the latter part of his lifetime. Nothing might give a higher idea of Rubens' genius than, for example, the "Feast of Venus", the portrait of "Helena Fourment ready to enter the Bath", or the "St. Ildefonso." This last picture -- now, as well as the two others just alluded to, in the Vienna Gallery -- was painted for the church of the convent of St. Jacques, in Brussels. On the wings are represented the archdukes in royal attire, under the protection of their patron saints. The presence of these figures has led to some mistake regarding the date of the production, but it has been proved beyond doubt, through a document published by Mr. Castan (1884), that the "St. Ildefonso" (at Vienna -- there is another resembling it at St. Petersburg) belongs to the series of works executed after the journeys to Spain and England. Archduke Albrecht had been dead ten years. The picture was engraved by Witdoeck in 1638.

Isabella died in 1633, and we know that to the end Rubens remained in high favor with her, alike as an artist and as a political agent. The painter was even one of the gentlemen she deputed to meet Marie de Medici at the frontier in 1631, after her escape from France.

Spain and the Netherlands went to war again, the king never ceasing to look upon the Dutch as rebels, and much trouble and suspicion came upon the great artist. As to the real nature of his communings with Frederick Henry of Orange, whom he is known to have interviewed, nothing as yet has been discovered.

Ferdinand of Austria, the cardinal-infant of Spain, was called to the government of the Netherlands on the death of his aunt. He was the king's younger brother, and arrived at Antwerp in May 1635. The streets had been decorated with triumphal arches and "spectacula", arranged by Rubens, and certainly never equalled by any other works of the kind. Several of the paintings detached from the arches were offered as presents to the new governor-general, a scarcely known fact, which accounts for the presence of many of these works in public galleries (Vienna, Dresden, Brussels, etc.). Rubens was at the time laid up with gout, but Prince Ferdinand was desirous of expressing his satisfaction, and called upon the painter, remaining a long time at his house. Rubens and Ferdinand had met at Madrid, and only a short time elapsed before the painter was confirmed in his official standing -- a matter of small importance, if we consider that the last years of his life were almost exclusively employed in working much more for the king than for his brother. About a hundred and twenty paintings of considerable size left Antwerp for Madrid in 1637, 1638 and 1639; they were intended to decorate the pavilion erected at the Pardo, and known under the name of Torre de la Parada. Another series had been begun, when Ferdinand wrote to Madrid that the painter was no more, and Jordaens would finish the work. Rubens breathed his last on the 30th of May 1640.

More fortunate than many artists, Rubens left the world in the midst of his glory. Not the remotest trace of approaching old age, not the slightest failing of mind or skill, can be detected even in his latest works, such as the "Martyrdom of St. Peter" at Cologne, the "Martyrdom of St. Thomas" at Prague, or the "Judgment of Paris" at Madrid, where his young wife appears for the last time.

Rubens has little of the Italian grace and refinement; he was a Fleming throughout, nothwithstanding his frequent recollections of those Italian masters whom he most admired, and who themselves have little, if anything, in common with Raphael. But it must be borne in mind how completely his predecessors were frozen into stiffness through italianization, and how necessary it was to bring back the Flemish school to life and nature. Critics have spoken of Rubens' historical improprieties. Of course nobody could suppose that his classical learning did not go far enough to know that the heroines of the Old Testament or of Roman history were not dressed out as ladies of his time; but in this respect he only follows the example of Titian, Paolo Veronese, and many others. In no other school do we find these animated hunts of lions, tigers, and even the hippopotamus and the crocodile, which may be reckoned among the finest specimens of art, and here again are life and nature displayed with the utmost power. "His horses are perfect in their kind", says Reynolds; his dogs are of the strong Flemish breed, and his landscapes the most charming pictures of Brabantine scenery, in the midst of which lay his seat of Steen. As a portrait painter, although less refined than Van Dyck, he shows that eminent master the way; and his pure fancy subjects, as the "Garden of Love" (Madrid and Dresden) and the "Village Feast" (Louvre), have never been equalled.

For nearly one hundred years the Flemish school may be said to have been but a reflection of the Rubenesque principles. Although Jordaens and Erasmus Quellin lived until 1678, the, school might be termed a body without soul.

Some etchings have been ascribed to Rubens, but except a head of Seneca, the only copy of which is in the Print Room at the British Museum, and a beautiful figure of St. Catherine, we can admit none of the other plates said to proceed from Rubens as authentic. Rubens nevertheless exercised an immense influence on the art of engraving. Under his direct guidance Soutman, Vorsterman, Pontius, Witdoeck, the two Bolswerts, Peter de Jode, N. Lauwers, and many others of less note, left an immense number of beautiful plates, reproducing the most celebrated of his paintings. To give an idea of what his influence was capable of accomplishing, pictorially speaking, it might be sufficient to notice the transformation undergone by the Antwerp school of engraving under Rubens; even the modern school of engraving, in more than one respect, is a continuation of the style first practiced in Antwerp. His influence is scarcely less apparent in sculpture, and the celebrated Luke Fayd'herbe was his pupil.

Never did the Flemish school find a second Rubens. None of his four sons became a painter, nor did any of his three daughters marry an artist. According to Rubens' will, his drawings were to belong to that one of his sons who might become a painter, or in the event of one of his daughters marrying a celebrated artist, they were to be her portion. The valuable collection was dispersed only in 1659, and of the pictures sold in 1640 thirty-two became the property of the king of Spain. The Madrid Gallery alone possesses over sixty of his works. Four years after her husband's death, Helena Fourment married J. B. Van Brouckhoven de Bergheyck, knight of St. James, member of the privy council, etc. She died in 1673. In 1746 the male line of Rubens' descendants was completely extinct. In the female line more than a hundred families of name in Europe trace their descent from him.

The paintings of Rubens are found in all the principal galleries in Europe: Antwerp and Brussels, Madrid, Paris, Lille, Dresden, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, St. Petersburg, London, Florence, Milan, Turin exhibit several hundreds of his works. J. Smith's Catalogue gives descriptions of more than thirteen hundred compositions.

Father: Jan Rubens (Calvinist, lawyer, alderman, d. 1587)
Mother: Maria Pypelinx (Roman Catholic)
Wife: Isabella Brant (m. 1609, d. 1626, three children)
Daughter: Clara Serena (to Isabella, d. 1623)
Son: Albert (to Isabella)
Son: Nicolaas (to Isabella)
Wife: Helene Fourment (aged sixteen, m. 1630, five children)
Daughter: Clara Johanna (to Helene, b. 1632)
Daughter: Isabella Helena (to Helene, b. 1635)

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