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Masterworks from Budapest. From the Renaissance to the Avant-Garde

From 18 February to 28 May 2017

Lucas Cranach, the Elder
Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist, ca. 1526-1530
Oil on panel. 88.4 x 58.3 cm
Budapest, Museum of Fine Arts

Biography and Works

Peter Paul Rubens
Siegen, 1577-Antwerp, 1640


Rubens was born in to a wealthy family in Siegen, Westphalia, in 1577. After the death of his father in 1587 he returned to Antwerp where his parents had previously lived before moving to Germany. He began his artistic training in the studio of Tobias Verhaecht and Adam van Noort, continuing his studies with Otto van Veen with whom he remained until he was twenty. In 1600 Rubens is documented in Italy in the service of the Duke of Mantua. During this trip he visited Rome and other cities of North Italy. In 1603, on a mission for the Duke, he went to Spain, returning to Mantua in 1604 at which point he was appointed court painter to Vicenzo Gonzaga. In 1608 Rubens moved to Antwerp and in 1609 he entered the service of the Archdukes Albert and Isabella. Among the works he realised in 1610 are the Self-Portrait with the Artist's Wife Isabella Brandt, in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, and the two triptychs which confirmed Rubens's fame as an artist, The Raising of the Cross and The Descent from the Cross, both in Antwerp Cathedral. In 1620, The Crucifixion was painted for the new church of the Jesuits in Antwerp. Two years later, Marie de' Medici commissioned a series of events from her own life for her residence, the Palais de Luxembourg. In 1628 Rubens was once again in Spain on a diplomatic mission, and the following year was in England; in both countries he was received with full diplomatic honours. In 1638 he executed the decoration of the Torre de la Parada for Philip IV with scenes from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Also from this decade are the Garden of Love in the Prado, Madrid, and The Saint Ildephonsus Triptych, now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. In the last years of his career Rubens devoted considerable time to landscape painting. His influence on seventeenth-century painting was enormous, both in Flanders and in the rest of Europe, due to his personal fame, but also to the prints which he had made after his own compositions.

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