In this edition of Transits, a series that looks at the movement of art in the Museums’ galleries, we’re highlighting three paintings by Peter Paul Rubens. These works, usually on view in Gallery 14 at the Legion of Honor, were installed in the special exhibition Early Rubens. These temporary departures allowed Kirk Nickel, Assistant Curator of European Paintings, the opportunity to rearrange installations and reunite two portraits by Frans Pourbus the Younger in a focused selection on the art of Flemish portraiture around 1600. This new selection provides additional context on patronage, varying artistic styles of the time, and Rubens’s early practice.
Since its acquisition more than thirty years ago, Pourbus’s Portrait of a Woman, Aged 54 (1591) has been a cornerstone of the Legion of Honor’s presentation of Dutch and Flemish paintings. The work’s pendant composition, Portrait of a Man, Aged 56 (1591), recently resurfaced after many decades out of public view. These portraits, while conceived as a pair, have never before been displayed together outside of Europe until now.