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
Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) was celebrated for his skillful handling of oil paint, his sensuous coloring, and his taut, action-packed depictions of dramatic narratives. The exhibition Early Rubens focuses on what is arguably the artist’s most innovative period of production, from 1608 until about 1620. It was during these years that Rubens rose to the highest ranks of European painting. He did so through a series of social and artistic choices that laid the groundwork for his later international fame and established a visual style that would guide ambitious painters for generations to come.
Rubens was not just a remarkable artist but also an international diplomat, businessman, intellectual, friend to scholars and monarchs, and master of a productive workshop. His early biographers branded Rubens as an aristocrat-artist, the favorite of Europe’s nobles, but his ultimate success was far from an assured outcome. Observe Rubens’s meteoric rise to master of the Northern Baroque.
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