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Rubens was born on June 28, 1577 in Siegen, Germany, in Westphalia. His father, Jan Rubens, lawyer and councilor of Antwerp, had fled in 1568 with his wife, Maria Py-pelinckx, and four children from the Spanish Netherlands (present-day Belgium). He had to escape religious persecution because of his Calvinistic convictions.
After Rubens’s father died in 1587, the family returned to Antwerp. Here the young Peter Paul Rubens grew up with the Roman Catholic faith of his mother and received a classical education.
Between 1594 and 1598 Rubens lived in the studio of Adam van Noort, until he was apprenticed to the Antwerp leading artist, Otto van Veen, dean of the painting guild of St. Luke. Most of Rubens's earlier works have disappeared or remain unknown.
The portrait of a young man (1597) is his earliest dated work. In 1598 Rubens was admitted to the painters' guild in Antwerp. He probably continued to work in van Veen's studio before traveling to Italy in May 1600. In Venice he absorbed the Renaissance masterpieces by Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese. Vincenzo I Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, hired Rubens to make copies of Renaissance paintings, mainly portraits of court beauties.
In October 1600, Rubens accompanied the Duke to Florence to attend the wedding of Gonzaga's sister-in-law Marie de Médicis to King Henry IV of France. A quarter of a century later he recreated this scene for the Queen.
The copies he made of Renaissance paintings provide a rich overview of the achievements of 16th-century Italian art. Rubens painted in the style of the Baroque. In his artworks he emphasized movement, color and sensuality. Although his masterpieces contain portraits and landscapes, Rubens is perhaps best known for his religious and mythological compositions. Peter Paul Rubens was also chairman of the most famous painting studio in Europe.
Peter Paul Rubens died on May 30, 1640.
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Peter Paul Rubens