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Painter - Peter Paul Rubens
A self-portrait by Rubens, created in 1623 when he was 46 years old.

Painter - Peter Paul Rubens

Flemish Baroque painter, Peter Paul Rubens, was born on the 28th of June 1577 in Siegen, modern day Germany. When he was 10 years old his father died and two years later he and his mother moved to Antwerp. At the age of 14 Rubens was apprenticed to the artist Tobias Verhaecht, and he later studied under the painters Adam van Noort and Otto van Veen.

His education complete, Rubens went to Italy where he was influenced by the works of Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and Caravaggio.

In addition to being an artist, Rubens was employed as a diplomat and his work took him to Spain in 1603 where he saw paintings by Raphael and Titian in the King's collection, before he returned to Italy.

Rubens concentrated on his artistic career between 1609 - 1621 after he had returned to Antwerp. Then in 1621, he was commissioned by the Queen of France to paint a series of paintings celebrating her life. He was also given more diplomatic missions which enabled him to paint leading figures who he encountered on his travels. He was knighted twice; once by Philip II of Spain, and again by Charles I of England.

The last ten years of Rubens' life were spent in and around Antwerp. His first wife had died in 1626, and four years later he married his niece. In 1635 he purchased an estate where he amused himself by painting landscapes which were not commissioned works.

Rubens died on the 30th of May 1640 at the age of 62.

For a closer look at the pictures, please click on them to enlarge.
1.
Painted around 1612, this picture shows the Roman gods Venus and Cupid being given wine and food by which other two gods?
Jupiter and Juno
Apollo and Diana
Mercury and Minerva
Baccchus and Ceres
Baccchus was the god of wine and Ceres the goddess of crops and harvests. Rubens is illustrating a 16th century phrase "Love is impossible without food and drink". Instead of showing a boisterous feast (for which Bacchus was famed), Rubens has painted a more restrained scene - perhaps indicating that we should be moderate in our pleasures!
2.
The goddess Venus is again featured in this work of 1615. What is its title?
Venus Dressing
Venus in Front of the Mirror
Venus and Servants
Venus' Reflection
It is also referred to as Venus at the Mirror. Venus, the personification of beauty, can be seen sitting naked before a mirror in which her gaze meets that of the viewer. This is a sensual painting which depicts the softness of the goddess' skin and the silk like quality of her hair
3.
This is a portrait of Helena Fourment painted by Rubens in 1630. What relationship was Fourment to Rubens?
She was his grand-daughter
She was his mother
She was his sister
She was his wife
Rubens had become a widower in 1626 and Helena was his second wife. They married in 1630 when Rubens was 53 years old and Helena was 16!
4.
Painted around 1628, this painting of Adam and Eve has what title?
The Fall of Man
The Garden of Eden
Paradise Lost
The Temptation of Eve
The piece is a copy of a work by Venetian painter Titian, though Rubens has added some details of his own. The parrot at the left is not in the original painting and Adam’s position and his age have both been changed
5.
Painted between 1612 - 1614 as an altarpiece for the Cathedral of Our Lady, in Antwerp, The Descent from the Cross, was a subject which Rubens returned to. How many other versions of the same scene is he known to have painted?
Two other versions
Four other versions
Six other versions
Eight other versions
Two other versions are known to exist: one painted in 1617 which is in the Lille Palace of Fine Arts, and another painted in 1618 which is in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. The original was removed from the Cathedral of Our Lady by Napoleon and placed in the Louvre - it was however returned after Napoleon's defeat and exile
6.
This is one of a series of 24 paintings commissioned by Marie de' Medici, the widow of which French king?
Louis XIII, the Just
Charles VIII, the Affable
Henry IV, Good King Henry
Louis XV, the Beloved
Marie de' Medici was Henry's second wife and she ruled as regent after his death, until her son reached maturity. The series depicts scenes from Marie's life such as the one pictured, The Birth of the Princess. The pictures serve to illustrate her struggles and her victories
7.
Painted in 1635, this is a picture of which biblical figure seated beside a fountain?
Eve
Ruth
Delilah
Bathsheba
Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah who King David spied upon as she bathed. Bathsheba at her Bath is a popular scene amongst artists, with different versions by Rembrandt, Veronese, Gentileschi, and William Blake
8.
More than once Rubens was commissioned to paint portraits of royalty. This 1629 painting is of which monarch?
Louis XIII of France
Philip IV of Spain
James I of England
Alphonse VI of Portugal
Amongst other royals Rubens painted portraits of Wladyslaw IV Vasa - King of Poland, Elizabeth de Bourbon - Princess of France, Anna of Austria - Queen of France, and Isabella Clara Eugenia - Infanta of Spain and Portugal and sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands. Some quite illustrious names indeed!
9.
This landscape is a view of Het Steen, an estate which Rubens had acquired in 1635. What time of day does the painting show?
The early morning
Noon
Mid afternoon
The late evening
A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning was not a commission, but was painted by Rubens for his own pleasure. Landscape paintings were not fashionable at the time, but this piece is thought to have influenced 19th century landscape artist John Constable
10.
One of four paintings commissioned by the Elector of Bavaria, Miximillian I, to decorate the Schleissheim Palace, this painting shows the hunting of which creature?
A rhinoceros
A panther
A hippopotamus
A gorilla
The Hippopotamus and Crocodile Hunt is regarded by some as one of Rubens' masterpieces, although its realism is questionable. It is symbolic of man's struggle with nature and it contrasts the smooth with the rough, darkness with light, the high with the low, beauty with ugliness, and the civilised with the barbaric

 

Author:  Graeme Haw

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