Portraits (until 1629)
by Peter Paul RUBENS

In his early portraits in Italy, Rubens modelled himself on the local artistic tradition. As in his history pieces, here, too, he found his starting point in the work of the great sixteenth-century Venetians. Explicitly Venetian are the two large equestrian portraits Rubens made in his Italian period. The fine full-length portraits of ladies from the highest social circles in Genoa, painted around 1606-07, possess an even more pronouncedly Venetian stamp. Their portraits have none of the courtly formality that was so characteristic of the Low Countries tradition of portraiture. Once back in Antwerp in 1608, Rubens adapted himself again to the Netherlandish tradition. Rubens group portraits of these years are notable for their severe structure.

Up to about 1620 Rubens's portraits — like all his work — continued to be marked by an emphatic plasticity and a smooth, impasto execution which allowed the painter to depict the texture of skin and clothing with conviction and sensitivity. In the later years of the second decade, however, Rubens's portraits started to make a more supple and lifelike impression, which gives them a spontaneity and directness which they had not possessed since his years in Italy.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 5 minutes):
Alessandro Stradella: Sinfonia avanti il Barcheggio

Preview Picture Data Info
Portrait of a Young Scholar
Oil on copper, 22 x 15 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Duke of Lerma
c. 1603
Oil on canvas, 283 x 200 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

Portrait of Marchesa Brigida Spinola Doria
Oil on canvas, 152 x 99 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

Equestrian Portrait of Giancarlo Doria
c. 1606
Oil on canvas, 265 x 188 cm
Galleria Nazional della Liguria, Genoa

Portrait of Maria Serra Pallavicino
Oil on canvas, 241 x 140 cm
Private collection

Portrait of Kaspar Scioppius
c. 1606
Oil on canvas, 116 x 88 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

Self-Portrait in a Circle of Friends from Mantua
Oil on canvas, 78 x 101 cm
Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne

Christoffel Plantin
Oil on canvas
Museum Plantin-Moretus, Antwerp

The Artist and His First Wife, Isabella Brant, in the Honeysuckle Bower
Oil on canvas, 178 x 136,5 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich

The Four Philosophers
Oil on canvas, 164 x 139 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

Portrait of a Young Girl
Oil on canvas, 37 x 27 cm
Liechtenstein Museum, Vienna

Boy with Bird
c. 1616
Oil on panel, 49 x 40 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Portrait of Jan Vermoelen
Oil on panel, 126 x 96 cm
Liechtenstein Museum, Vienna

Portrait of Nicolas de Respaigne
Oil on canvas, 206 x 120 cm
Staatliche Museen, Kassel

Portrait of Lady Arundel with her Train
Oil on canvas
Alte Pinakothek, Munich

Portrait of Infanta Clara Eugenia, Governess of the Netherlands
Oil on canvas, 116 x 96 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

Marie de Médici, Queen of France
c. 1622
Oil on canvas, 130 x 108 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

Portrait of Anne of Austria
Oil on canvas, 85 x 37 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Matthaeus Yrsselius, Abbot of Sint-Michiel's Abbey in Antwerp
c. 1624
Oil on oak panel, 120 x 103 cm
Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen

Portrait of George Villiers, First Duke of Buckingham
c. 1625
Oil on canvas, 65 x 50 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

Portrait of a Woman
Oil on canvas
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Marseille

Portrait of a Chambermaid
c. 1625
Oil on panel, 64 x 48 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

The Straw Hat
c. 1625
Oil on wood, 79 x 55 cm
National Gallery, London

Isabella Brandt (?)
c. 1626
Oil on oak, 98 x 72 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Isabella Brandt
c. 1626
Oil on canvas, 86 x 62 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Albert and Nicolaas Rubens
Oil on wood, 157 x 93 cm
Liechtenstein Museum, Vienna

Self-Portrait with a Hat
Oil on wood, 85 x 61 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Oil on canvas
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Portrait of Jan Gaspar Gevartius
c. 1628
Oil on panel, 119 x 98 cm
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp

Portrait of Ambrogio Spinola
Oil on oak, 117 x 85 cm
Národní Galerie, Prague

Alfonso d'Este, Duke of Ferrara
Oil on canvas, 127 x 98 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Charles V in Armour
Oil on canvas, 119 x 93 cm
Private collection

Charles V and the Empress Isabella
Oil on canvas, 114 x 166 cm
Collection of the Dukes of Alba, Madrisd

Summary of works by Rubens
Religious themes
until 1616 | 1617-20 | 1620s | 1630s
Altarpieces in Antwerp Cathedral | Biblical scenes
Mythological themes
until 1614 | 1614-29 | 1630s
Large royal projects | Allegorical themes
until 1629 | 1630s
Landscapes | Hunting and other themes
Graphic works | Architecture

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.