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Peter Paul Rubens

             Born in 1577 in a small German town called Siegen, Peter Paul Rubens lived a successful life of an artist. From birth he led a wealthy life with his father, Jan Rubens, from a family of spice merchants. Jan was a successful lawyer in Antwerp before fleeing from the city to escape the religious war. His life crumbled, however, when Jan died in 1587, leaving his wife to raise Peter and his brother and sister. He left school at the age of thirteen to serve as a page. It was here that he had the opportunity to copy prints from artist such as Durer and Holbein. He began formal classes in 1591 with Adam van Noort in his studio. He then moved onto being an apprentice to Otto van Veen. Van Veen had notable influence upon Rubens" early style. Van Veen was also a member of the Romanists, a group of Flemish painters who studied in Italy. This group brought the influences of Renaissance painters such as Michelangelo and Raphael into their paintings. By 1598 he had been admitted into the Guild of St. Luke which allowed him to obtain his own studio. He had his own pupil at this time as well who was Deodat van der Mont. In 1600, they headed south arriving in Venice. There, he studied paintings by Titain, Tinteretto and Veronese. Then, they traveled to Mantua where Rubens was hired to re-create copies of Renaissance paintings. Known all over Europe as a legendary artist, it is surprising that painting was seen as the least of all his talents. He was a dedicated scholar, a Christian humanist, a classicist, an architect and a negotiator. When Rubens arrived in Rome he discovered the Baroque style practiced by Caracci and Caravaggio. He received his first commission there to paint a series of three large pictures for the Chapel of St. Helena. After he finished the paintings, he returned to Mantua in 1602. He became a diplomat here. He painted his first equestrian portrait for his brother, Philip's, minister, the duke of Lerma.

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