Peter Paul Rubens (28 June 1577 30 May 1640) was a 16th-17th century Flemish painter, widely praised for his rich and warm, colorful paintings. Back in his time he was one of the most popular, richest and celebrated European painters, working for several royal courts.
His work depicts Biblical, historical and mythological subjects. Rubens also made portraits of his friends, family members and himself. Rubens was one of the few historical painters who became rich with his work. Some of his assistants and pupils later became famous painters in their own right, like Anthony Van Dyck, David Teniers and Jacob Jordaens.
Not to be confused with American actor Paul Reubens.
This artist provides examples of:
- Adam and Eve Plot: He painted a famous portrait of them.
- Anachronism Stew: Done intentionally for effect. While many of Rubens's paintings depict events from The Bible or Classical Mythology, they take place in landscapes clearly defined by early modern reality, with characters dressed in clothing and carrying weapons from the 17th century.
- Actually, That's My Assistant: Rubens had a lot of assistants who helped him during painting and so it's often difficult to tell which (parts of his) paintings were made by himself?
- As the Good Book Says...: Like every painter in his time Rubens painted a lot of biblical themes, though always taking place in his own lifetime: "Samson and Delilah", "The Elevation of the Cross", "Adam and Eve", "The Massacre Of The Innocents",...
- Big Beautiful Woman: Rubens is well known for featuring nude chubby and fat women, true to the beauty ideal of his time. The word "Rubenesque" derives from him.
- Cool Hat: Rubens usually wears a large hat in his self-portraits.
- Family Man: Made a lot of paintings of himself and his children.
- Judgement of Paris: He painted three different versions of this story.
- Macho Masochism: The painting Mucius Scaevola Before Porsenna shows Mucius Scaevola holding his hand in fire.
- Mistaken Nationality: Rubens is practically a symbol of the city Antwerp. His statue can be seen on the Groenplaats (Green Place) and his house is still a tourist attraction. Yet he was actually born in Siegen, Germany.
- Person as Verb: The adjective "Rubenesque" used to refer to a Big Beautiful Woman gets its etymology from his nudes of large women.
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis:
- Despite painting more versatile subjects besides full-figured women he is mostly remembered for these types of paintings.
- In Japan Rubens is famous for being an important plot point in the novel A Dog of Flanders. Most Japanese tourists who visit Belgium will go to the Antwerp Cathedral to see Rubens' paintings as protagonist Nello and Patrasche do in the book.
- Renaissance Man: In addition to being an acclaimed painter and draughtsman, Rubens was also a spy and a diplomat who served the infanta Isabella of the Spanish Netherlands and Philip IV of Spain. He was knighted by Philip IV and Charles I of England.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Rubens made a lot of portraits of himself, his wife and children.
- Referenced by...:
- Suske en Wiske: He played an important role in the albums "De Raap van Rubens" and "De Krimson Crisis". In Het Dreigende Dinges the story A Dog of Flanders is used as a source for the plot, thus also bringing Rubens' Descent From The Cross back.
- De Kiekeboes: In Hotel O the hotel manager advises the big breasted lady to try the Rubens suite.
- The Antwerp window painter Rubbes was named after him.
- 1632 Rubens appears as a supporting character in several of the stories set in Amsterdam, and several of the covers are pastiches of his paintings (The pastiches are supposed to exist in-Universe too, since the arrival of the time-travellers and the art-history of the next three-hundred years had a profound impact on the European art scene).
- Riddle for the Ages: Some scenes are still a mystery to art historians.
- Rule of Symbolism: As with most art of his time symbolism is rampant.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: On his paintings, naturally.
- Small Reference Pools: In Flanders he, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Jan Van Eyck are practically THE most famous Flemish painters of all time among the general public.