April 6, 2019September 8, 2019

Early Rubens

Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) was both a prodigious artist and one of the most extraordinary figures of the seventeenth century. Renowned for his virtuosic handling of oil paint, his taut depiction of dramatic action, and his sensuous coloring, Rubens was also an international diplomat, a shrewd businessman, a widely-read intellectual, a friend to scholars and monarchs, and the master of a prolific workshop. His early biographers regularly present Rubens as an aristocrat-artist, the favorite of Europe’s noble class, but this was far from an assured outcome. Early Rubens will focus on what is arguably the artist’s most innovative period of production, from 1608 until about 1620. It was during these years that Rubens came to dominate Flemish painting through a series of social and artistic choices that laid the groundwork for his international fame and established a visual style that would guide ambitious painters for generations to come.

Image: Peter Paul Rubens, "The Tribute Money," ca. 1612. Oil on panel, 56 3/4 x 74 3/4 in. (144.1 x 189.9 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, M.H. de Young Art Trust Fund, 44.11