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“Early Rubens” Opening Weekend Curator Talk by Kirk Nickel

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Peter Paul Rubens, “The Tribute Money,” ca. 1612

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

John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Theater

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 depictions of taut dramatic action, and his sensuous coloring, Rubens was also an international diplomat, a shrewd businessman, a well-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. The exhibition 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 rose to the first rank of 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.


Kirk Nickel is assistant curator of European Paintings at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. He is a specialist in Renaissance painting, with significant curatorial experience in prints and drawings of the early modern period. Before joining the museums, Kirk held curatorial fellowships at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. He received his PhD in History of Art from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016. 

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Free after museum admission. No additional ticket required. Seating is limited and first come, first served. Doors will open one hour before the lecture begins.

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Public Programs
(415) 750-7694