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

View of the portico

Rubenshuis, Antwerp

Among the rare examples of Italianate domestic architecture in Antwerp are a few large houses built for painters. Obviously the standard was set by Rubens who between 1616 and 1621 had the house he had bought in 1610 with land along the Wapper converted and extended with a large studio. He drew the plans himself for the extension, which fulfilled the wishes of the artist, businessman, family man and art collector that he was.

The garden side of this building was also inspired by Italian secular architecture of the later sixteenth century. It is integrated with the symmetrical Renaissance layout of the garden; its axial design is accentuated by the view through the portico, built like a triumphal arch, to the pavilion at the back. The architecture of house and garden are conceived as an organic entity, on the example of Italian villas: the sculpture on the triumphal arch links up schematically and iconographically with the fresco paintings which could originally be seen on the wall of the house.

Rubens's idea of architecture was above all pictorial and decorative, façade and portico are richly decorated with paint and sculpture. The rusticated decoration of the architecture is typical, evoking thoughts of similarly treated masonry of Italian garden fronts.

After his death, the house underwent a number of changes before rising again as the Rubens House, the home of and museum about the Baroque master painter, Peter Paul Rubens.

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