Paintings can be divided into three categories: those he painted by himself, those he painted in part (mainly hands and faces), and those he only supervised. He had, as was usual at the time, a large workshop with many apprentices and students, some of whom, such as Anthony van Dyck, became famous in their own right. He also often sub-contracted elements such as animals or still-life in large compositions to specialists such as Frans Snyders, or other artists such as Jacob Jordaens.
PLATE I.—ELIZABETH OF FRANCE, DAUGHTER OF HENRY IV. Frontispiece
(In the Louvre)
The Princess is seen to great advantage in this fine portrait. The fair complexion of the sitter is remarkably preserved, the white ruff, the jewels, and the gold brocade are very cleverly handled. Another portrait of Princess Elizabeth, painted in Madrid, may now be seen in St. Petersburg.
PLATE II.—CHRIST À LA PAILLE
(At Antwerp Museum)
Whatever the Biblical story Rubens chose, he handled it not only with skill, but with a certain sense of conviction that is the more remarkable in one who owed no allegiance to the Church. There is fine feeling and deep reverence in the “Christ à la Paille,” in addition to the dramatic feeling that accompanied all his religious pictures. The colouring, though very bold, is most effective; in the hands of a less skilled painter such a display of primary colouring might well have seemed violent or even vulgar.
About the Author
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 subjects.
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