RUBENS, Peter Paul
(b. 1577, Siegen, d. 1640, Antwerpen)
The Incredulity of St Thomas1613-15
Oil on wood, 143 x 123 cm (central panel), 146 x 55 cm (side panels)
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp
After becoming a master in the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke in 1598, Rubens left for Italy in 1600, where he spent eight years and visited all the major cities. He spoke Italian, knew Latin, and was familiar with the great writers of Antiquity. His period in Italy allowed him to study Antique works of art and the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance at first hand. After returning to Antwerp in 1608, he was appointed court painter to Archduke Albert and the Infanta Isabella in 1609. He was given a great many commissions. Between 1613 and 1615, for instance, he painted the triptych The Incredulity of Saint Thomas for Nicolaas Rockox, which was destined for the chapel containing his tomb in the Franciscan church in Antwerp. Rockox, a famous Antwerp patrician and humanist, who was mayor of the city on a number of occasions, is shown in the left-hand panel, with his wife on the right.