Sir Peter Paul Rubens (28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640), was a Flemish Baroque painter, and a proponent of an extravagant Baroque style that emphasised movement, colour, and sensuality. He is well known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical
His influence in contemporary artists was vast, with his students, notably Anthony van Dyck, becoming successful. Even Rembrandt's dramatic style of the 1630s can be traced to the model of Rubens. Rubens's work was also influential outside his home country. During his mission to Madrid in 1628 he had enormous influence on the Spanish painter Diego Velazquez. Rubens was not only admired by other pointers, but awl celebrated in the writing of contemporary humanists. His reputation remained strong throughout most of the remainder of the seventeenth century.
In 1626 his wife Isabella died. The archdukes Isabella asked Rubens to go on a diplomatic mission to the Spanish king, which he accepted, perhaps to escape loneliness. His creative force and genius, nevertheless, continued to express themselves in numerous commissioned paintings and sketches for wall tapestries. His work reaches the pinnacle of Baroque art during this period. The contours of the personae are less sharp but the dynamic forces between the various elements in his paintings show through more than ever. In 1628 the Spanish king Fillip IV asked Rubens to undertake a diplomatic mission to the English king Charles I in London. Charles I knighted Rubens thanking him for his contribution to the peace process between Spain and England. In England he made nine paintings for the Hélène Fourment, the second Mrs. Rubens.ceiling of Banqueting Hall in Whitehall, London.
Ruben's workshop was very successful with many apprentices learning their trade from the master painter. His Altarpieces for Antwerp Cathedral, The Elevation of the Cross and The Decent from the Cross, established the artist as the leading painter in Flanders.
Rubens traveled to Rome by way of Florence in 1601. There, he studied classical Greek and Roman art and copied works of the Italian masters. The Hellenistic sculpture Laocoon and his Sons was especially influential on him, as was the art of Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci. He was also influenced by the recent, highly naturalistic paintings by Caravaggio.
Rubens was a remarkable individual. Not only was he an enormously successful painter whose workshop produced a staggering number of works; but he also played an important diplomatic role in 17th-century European politics. He was clearly a charming and attractive companion, described as having 'a tall stature, a stately bearing, with a regularly shaped face, rosy cheeks, chestnut brown hair, sparkling eyes but with passion restrained, a laughing air, gentle and courteous'.
By the age of 20, the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) was a member of the Antwerp painters' guild. Between 1600 and 1608, he lived in Italy, studying the example of Veronese, Titian, Tintoretto, the Carracci, and Caravaggio, and on his return to Antwerp was appointed court painter to Archduke Albert and the Infanta Isabella. He also completed important commissions for Marie de Medicis, Regent of France, and for the wealthier churches and members of the bourgeoisie.
Given the economic and political conditions of his country during the forty years of his activity, the career of Peter Paul Rubens is astonishing. The only recent attempt to provide a complete list of pairings executed primarily by the artist himself or in collaboration with his large studio contains over 1,400 items. While roughly a third of these are small oil sketches or reduced versions of final designs made for a patron's approval, the total is nonetheless extraordinary.
The work of Rubens shows continuous development and can be divided roughly into periods. The first covers his formative years, his stay in Italy and Antwerp. Colors were laid on broadly, the paintings were strong in contrast with harsh modelling of the figures and academic drawings. The influences of Titian, Veronese, and Tintoretto is very evident. The second took place very gradually starting around 1612. The paint became more luminous, though still opaque. Fluency and facility combined and formed an exuberant style suitable to workshop practice and the mass production of paintings. During the final phase which started about 1625, he achieved complete mastery with his vital, free, and expressive brushwork. His brilliance of color and the sensual feeling for the tactile- human flesh and materials- has not been paralleled since.
[Rubens'] sensual paintings of full-bodied women gave rise to the term Rubenesque. Rubens painted many extravagant portraits of European royalty. One critic called him a "prince of painters and painter of princes". But he also painted his violent, audience-gripping war paintings, which critiqued European politics.
Baroque pairing was known for its use of dramatic effaces to heighten emotional intensity. This style was especially evident in the works of the Flemish pained Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), a prolific artist and an important figure in the spread of the Baroque from Italy to other parts of Europe. In his artistic masterpieces, bodies in vigorous motto, fleshy nudes, a dramatic use of light and shadow, and rich, sensuous pigments convey intense emotions. The restless forms and sense of movement blend in to a dynamic unity.