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

Farm at Laken

c. 1618
Oil on canvas
Royal Collection, London

This landscape display a realistic vision. Rubens not only painted the milkmaids and the cattle from preliminary drawings made from life. This piece of Brabant countryside is seen from a low viewpoint. It is noticeable that the peasant girls are painted larger than was usual for such additional figures in Flemish landscape painting. Depicted in the same sculptural style as the figures in contemporary history paintings, they are placed emphatically in the foreground. Moreover, they are approached sympathetically. The woman standing, carrying a basket on her head, is even painted in a very dignified pose, obviously based on the classical contrapposto. This explicitly positive approach to simple countryfolk is the more striking when it is remembered that in the genre painting the image of the peasant would continue to bear a pejorative accent until almost the middle of the seventeenth century.

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