RUBENS, Peter Paul
(b. 1577, Siegen, d. 1640, Antwerpen)

Portrait of Helene Fourment

c. 1630
Oil on canvas
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

Already lionized throughout Europe as a painter, Rubens married for the second time on 6 December 1630. His bride, Helene Fourment, was just 16, a circumstance that led to much imaginative speculation that Rubens had succumbed to a fit of infatuation. But there would seem to have been quite sober preparations for the marriage, in keeping with the custom of the time. That love played a role, though, is suggested by the numerous portraits of the young lady, and the other paintings in which she sat as model. Professional panegyrists praised her beauty and indeed she seems to have lived up to the contemporary ideal. Rubens in any case staged her as a goddess in numerous paintings.

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