Artist, Diplomat. Born in Siegen, Westphalia (present day Germany), the son of Maria Pypelinckx and, Jan Rubens, a lawyer and alderman of Antwerp. His father was a refugee from the Spanish Netherlands (present day Belgium) from which he fled to escape religious persecution. After the death of his father in 1587, the family returned to Antwerp, where he was apprenticed to a landscape painter. Within five years, he was apprentice with Antwerp’s dean of the painters guild. 'Portrait of a Young Man' from 1597, is the earliest of his surviving work; he was admitted to the guild the following year. In 1600, he traveled to Italy, where he was sponsored by the duke of Mantua as a portraitist and copiest of Renaissance paintings. He also received commissions for religious works. In 1608, he returned to Antwerp where he completed 'Adoration of the Magi' (1609) for the Antwerp Town Hall which made his reputation in Flanders. He accepted an appointment as court painter to Archduke Albert and Archduchess Isabella, the Spanish Hapsburg regents in Flanders. He organized his own studio, and in October 1609, he married Isabella Brant, commemorating the event with 'Double Portrait in a Honeysuckle Bower ' (1610). He received a commission for two religious works, 'The Raising of the Cross' and 'The Descent from the Cross' for Antwerp Cathedral which he completed between 1610 and 1614. He and his studio produced a substantial number of altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, paintings with mythological or allegorical subjects over the following years including, 'Wolf and Fox Hunt' (c. 1615), 'The Hippopotamus Hunt' (c. 1616), 'Landscape with Carters' (c. 1618), and 'Lion Hunt' (1621). Beginning in 1616, he also designed tapestries, sculptures, and architecture. By 1621, his reputation as the 'painter of princes and the prince of painters,' and access to all courts, allowed the widowed Archduchess to draft him as her private agent in negotiating a peace between Flanders the independent Dutch provinces. Philip IV gave him the title of secretary of the king’s privy council of the Netherlands in order to elevate the standing. Royal clients also included Louis XIII of France, Marie de Medici of France, Anne of Austria, and Charles I of England for whom he completed the allegorical 'Peace and War.' He was knighted by Charles before he left England. In 1630, he returned to Antwerp where he devoted himself to his art and family, often using his second wife, Helena Fourment, as a model in such works as 'Garden of Love' (c. 1632), 'Venus and Adonis ' (1635), 'Het Pelsken' (c. 1638), and his final 'Self-Portrait with Helena and Peter Paul' (c. 1639), a family grouping with his wife and son. He died the following year after a sudden illness, one of the most celebrated artists in Europe. His role as Flanders’ premier artist was inherited by a man who trained in Rubens' studio, Anthony van Dyck. His name has entered the vernacular as an adjective, applying to a human form as being Rubenesque.
Bio by: Iola