Oil on panel. Flemish school of the 17th century.
This charming portrait of a man fully expresses the Antwerp Baroque tradition established by Peter Paul Rubens who, enriched by his long journey to Italy, drew from the Venetian High Renaissance to renew the art of portraiture. Framed at bust height and turned three-quarters face up, this man enjoys a good social status as evidenced by his suit adorned with a lace collar. Like Rubens, the painter gives his model a penetrating look. The result is an impression of vivacity complemented by the delicate play of shadows in the pinkish skin tones. The abundant hair of the figure, painted with a free touch enhanced by fine luminous strokes, gives a feeling of movement to the whole. When one sees this portrait, one is reminded of the words of the poet Karel van Mander, written in 1604: "The face, as the most sublime part of the human body, is rich in revelations and shows the virtues and strengths of artists, as many great masters have proved before.
Estimated at 1,400 autographed works, the gigantic corpus of Peter Paul Rubens includes about 150 portraits. His studio was one of the most prolific in the southern Netherlands, training a whole generation of artists, including the famous portraitist Anthony Van Dyck. However, the relative austerity of our painting is more in keeping with Rubens' manner than with Van Dyck's empathetic and elegant style. Since Rubens had the privilege of never declaring his apprentices to the guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp, there is no record of who among his followers were actually his students. Nevertheless, the reading of 17th century biographers, including the one written by his nephew Philip Rubens, gives us information on the painters who probably benefited from his teaching. Among the dozens of artists who would have worked in his studio, we can mention the portraitists Pieter Claesz Soutman (c. 1580 - 1607) or Pieter Thijs (1624 - 1677) whose style, very Rubenian, is similar to our work.
Our striking portrait is presented in a guilloche frame in blackened wood.
Dimensions : 33 x 26 cm - 46 x 38 cm with the frame
Biography: Peter Paul Rubens (Siegen, June 28, 1577 - Antwerp, May 30, 1640) was a renowned Flemish painter and diplomat, considered the most complete and influential Northern artist of the Baroque period. An Antwerp patrician, he was appointed ambassador by the sovereigns of the Southern Netherlands. He was then sent to all the courts of Europe to portray their leaders. The colossal cycle he painted for Marie de Medici in the 1620s bears witness to his prodigious work force. The organization of his studio and the frequent collaborations he had with other great artists allowed him to meet a high demand. His imprint was such on the generations of artists that followed that the adjective "Rubenian" was born to describe this movement of painters who, throughout Europe, painted in his manner.
- HAIRS, Marie-Louise, Dans le sillage de Rubens: les peintres d'histoire anversois au XVIIe siècle, Liège, Université de Liège, 1977.
- Le siècle de Rubens, (cat. exp., Musées royaux des beaux-arts de Belgique, Brussels, 15 Oct. - 12 Dec. 1965), 2nd ed. 1965.
- VAN DER STIGHELEN, Katlijne, VLIEGHE, Hans, Corpus Rubenanium: Portraits, vol. XIX (3), London, Harvey Miller Publishers, 2021.
- VLIEGHE, Hans, Flemish Art and Architecture, 1585-1700, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1998, pp. 98 - 104.