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Rubens is an artistic jack-of-all-trades: painter and diplomat, architect and... designer. As a designer, he produces sketches for silver jugs, dishes and other luxury artefacts, asking friends who are young and talented artists to produce the objects.
Rubens was a man who had no issue stepping out of his comfort zone. Not only his artistic brilliance, but also his eye for diplomacy and grandeur in general were held in great esteem, something he gratefully used to his advantage.
During the 17th century when Peter Paul Rubens was around, having a garden was a true status symbol. It is, after all, the ultimate reflection of your wealth. Rubens once grew potato plants and tulips in his garden. The potato plant is an ornamental plant from America and tulips are very expensive.
The art of painting at the time of Rubens had a very clear economic value: large altarpieces and monumental paintings were the big winners, although VIP portraits could also gain the artist considerable fame. Landscapes and still life, however, didn't achieve nearly as much return on investment. Rubens aimed for the top and didn't get involved in the so-called inferior arts.
The magnificence of the artist is not only evident in his dramatic, large paintings. Even quick pencil drawings illustrate his undeniable genius. The KMSKA has some of Rubens' drawings on display where he has captured the essence of a cow pat, or a urinating cow in a field, with only a couple of pencil strokes.
At the beginning of the 16th century, Margaret of Austria – one of the most powerful women in Europe – chose Mechelen as a base. This Flemish city thus grew de facto into the capital of the Burgundian empire. Pay a visit to this beautiful city and discover for yourself why Mechelen is such an irresistible destination.
Meet the other guides.
|Painter:||Peter Paul Rubens|
|Visit me:||KMSKA, Antwerp|
Hello, my name is Nicolaas Rockox (1560-1640). Nice to meet you.
I was close friends with Peter Paul Rubens for a number of years and during the 17th century I was the mayor of Antwerp. As a patron for the arts, I commissioned multiple paintings from Rubens and other artists, including Anthony van Dyck (my colleague guide for the Flemish Masters), Jan van Eyck and Pieter Bruegel.
In 1613 I asked Rubens to paint a triptych – a three-fold paneled painting – to express commitment to my faith. In the centre panel, he depicted the apparition of Christ before the incredulous Thomas, the figure on the right, who refused to accept that the Son of God had risen from the dead. The old man beside Thomas is Peter, the apostle who renounced Jesus by denying their friendship on no fewer than three occasions. The third figure is Paul who, prior to his conversion, had persecuted Christians. Yet Christ forgave all three men their sins and admitted them to the Heavenly Kingdom.
On the side panels, Rubens portrayed Mrs Rockox, Adriana Perez, and myself. Look close and you will see my wife holding a rosary, a symbol of faith. We are begging for forgiveness of our sins and praying to be admitted to heaven.
Unfortunatly, I died without any children and my collection was publicly sold. But I’m happy to see that my home, the Rockox House, is now renovated and can be visited.