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Baroque Painting Genius – Rubens


Peter Paul Rubens was born in Germany and lost his father at a young age. His family was not wealthy, and his mother raised him. At the age of 19, he was certified as an independent painter by the Guild of St. Luke of Antwerp (early painters' guild), and at the age of 20-30, he traveled throughout Italy and Spain. His patrons included princes and nobles from Mantua, Venice, Florence, and so on, and the Pope favored him with a mission to Spain. Philip III also favored him. From his biography, Rubens was able to get along with the upper classes in almost every place he went. This social skill led him to receive more commissions until he returned to his hometown at the age of 31. One has to wonder, how did he manage to be so good with people? The main reason is education.

Despite living in a poor family, Rubens' mother placed a high value on his education. At an early age, Rubens studied Latin at school, and he was able to read the original Greco-Roman books. He also worked as a servant boy in the household of a countess and thus had the opportunity to receive a proper aristocratic education. He then understood the etiquette and customs of the upper class, learned to deal with people, and gradually became proficient in many languages ​​(German, Latin, Spanish, English, French), which also laid the groundwork for his later career as a diplomat.

Later, Rubens worked as a court painter for the Archduke of Austria and as a diplomat to mediate wars in various countries. Throughout his life, education in his early years was crucial, and his early education also provided an important foundation for his later business expansion, extensive network, and career success.

Portrait of Tobias Verhaecht

Portrait of Tobias Verhaecht, Rubens' first teacher

Portrait of Otto van Vee

Otto van Vee, the famous painter who influenced Rubens

A wise man's choice is to learn from the teacher and the master, just as a charioteer pulls a cart, looking ahead and underfoot. It had always been Rubens's practice to learn on the ground and to embrace the strengths of all schools of thought.
In 1592, Rubens began to study painting under his mother's arrangement. He successively studied with the landscape painter Verhaeght, the multi-talented painter Adam van Noort and Otto van Veen. Rubens studied under them for four years and laid a solid foundation for painting. In 1598, Rubens finished his studies and joined the Guild of St. Luke in Antwerp, where he became a full-fledged painter.
If his ambitions had stopped there, he would not have become a great artist and would not have been known for generations. In fact, in 1600, Rubens went to Italy for further studies and was influenced by the Venetian school, especially Titian, and the three Florentine Renaissance masters, especially Michelangelo, and was also indirectly influenced by Caravaggio's expression of light and shadow.

Rubens's most genius improvement was the technique from the dark base of Titian to the transparent brown base of the North, which improved the brightness and completion speed of the oil painting. The improvement of this technology promoted the great development of Baroque art throughout Europe. With Netherland's techniques, Titian's colors, Michelangelo's shapes and Caravaggio's theatrical light and shadow, Rubens ushered in a new era of Baroque.

Appreciation of Rubens' paintings

Popular paintings