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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe Rubens House is – as the name suggests – the former house and studio of the world-famous Flemish painter, Peter Paul Rubens , and is now a museum. He was the greatest and most renowned of all Antwerp painters. In his time, Rubens was well-known around Europe for his extravagant Baroque style that focused on movement and color. He ran his studio in Antwerp, Belgium, which produced several paintings for nobility, royals, and wealthy merchants from all over the continent. In addition to that, he was also an educated scholar and diplomat. He was, for example, knighted by Charles I, the King of England, and Philip I, the King of Spain.
The studio – now called Rubens' House – produced huge quantities of paintings. Because Rubens couldn’t do this alone, he had a host of other painters, students, and apprentices to help him. Works from his studio can be divided into three categories: paintings he painted himself; paintings of which he only painted parts, such as hands and faces; and paintings that were painted completely by his staff. Rubens was, in fact, more of a studio manager than an actual painter, although he did paint several paintings himself. Sometimes, when the workload was too high, he would sub-contract other painters, such as Frans Snyders and Jacob Jordaens. The most famous of his students was Anthony van Dyck , who would become quite renowned himself.
HistoryPeter Paul Rubens began renovating an existing Italian-style building in 1609 after marrying Isabella Brant and after returning to Antwerp from his time in Italy between 1600 and 1608. He designed the building himself, inspired by the Italian Renaissance palace architecture.
Rubens transformed the 16th-century house into one of the most elegant houses in Renaissance-Baroque-style in the Low Countries . His layout included a magnificent portico, his home, a large studio, and a courtyard that opened to a restyled garden. The changes that Rubens made, the semi-circular Pantheon, the new studio, the portico, and the design of the garden, gave the building the feel of an Italian palazzo. The house was finished sometime around 1617, and Rubens continued to live there until his death in 1640.
The Rubens House became one of the world’s greatest art studios. It was visited by noble families, other artists, diplomats, art collectors, scientist, and even the Spanish Archdukes Isabella and Albert. Rubens ran a well-oiled workshop that was able to keep up with the high demands of his studio. Commissions regularly came in from places such as England, Bavaria , France, and Germany. A lot of the actual painting was done by students and employees. Rubens himself was responsible for the overall quality of the works and oftentimes put the last touches on the paintings. There was a small separate studio where he worked on small paintings and drawings of his own.
The house was also where Rubens’ first wife and child died. He remarried and his second wife, Helena Fourment, continued to live in the house after Rubens died in 1640. She rented out the house to the Cavendish family from 1648 to 1660, who ran a horse riding school there. The house was sold by Rubens’ heirs after the Cavendish family left.
The Rubens House was renovated several times in the course of the 18th century and eventually became subject to decline. In 1937, the City of Antwerp bought the severely damaged house. After almost a decade of renovations, the Rubens House was opened to the public in 1946. The bases of the restoration were two sketches dating from the 1680s. The portico and the garden are the only authentic remains of the 17th-century house.
Visiting the Rubens HouseNowadays, the former studio houses the Rubens House Museum, its rooms filled with dozens of paintings by Rubens and his colleagues. The museum also has a fine selection of furniture of Rubens’ time.
It is, however, important to keep in mind that the house is not what it looked like when Rubens lived there. It is rather a reconstruction of an early 17th-century house of a wealthy person, but does give you an impression of what a great artist Rubens was. The unique collection of painting alone is worth paying the entrance fee.
Admission is €8 ($9.20) for visitors between 26 and 65; €6 ($6.90) for visitors between 12 and 25 or older than 65; and free for children younger than 12 and on the last Wednesday of every month. The Rubens House Museum is open from Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 AM to 5 PM. Closing days are New Year’s Day, May 1, Ascension Day, November 1, and Christmas.
Nearby LandmarksAntwerp, as an historic city, has several other fascinating buildings and museums. Examples are the Cathedral of Our Lady, the MAS, Het Steen, and the Central Station.
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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Jan 24, 2015