Billeder på siden
PDF

1 I HISTORICAL AND CRITICAL NOTICE

scape painter, next with Adam Van Oort, and finally he studied under Otho Vaenius, the most skilful Flemish painter of that period.At the age of twenty three, Rubens considered himselfable to paint without any guide, except his own genius; he, therefore, left his master, and soon had access to persons of the highest rank, where he became equally remarkable for his talents and education, as well as for an extreme politeness, acquired from his master. Being received at the court of the Archduke Albert of Austria, it is said he was sent by that prince to Vincent de Gonzago, Duke of Mantua, who gave him a favorable reception, and kept him about his person as one of his gentlemen; this however did not prevent Rubens prefering the noble study of the Fine Arts to the frivolous pleasures and amusements of the court. After residing seven years at Mantua, he was sent to Philip III, King of Spain, and was the bearer of magnificent presents to the Duke of Lerma. Rubens soon found at that court similar advantages, to those that he had just quitted : he painted a number of portraits and historical pictures, which produced him considerable sums. On leaving Spain, Rubens returned to Mantua, where he remained but a short time, and then proceeded to Rome, where, by order of the Duke de Gonzago, he copied several pictures by the great masters. He next went to Venice, and pursued his studies with advantage, from the works of Titian and Paul Veronese. He did not howerver become an imitator of these able colourists, but formed a style of his own, which may perhaps be found more brilliant, but less harmonious. Rubens had been some time at Genoa and had decorated there, the church of the Jesuits, when be suddenly left that place to visit his mother who was ill; but ere he reached her, she had expired : this was in 16oo. Her loss caused him so much grief that he shut himself up in the Abbey of St. Michael.After a retreat of several months, he wished to quit a spot which

OF PETER PAUL RUBENS. III

offered him but sad reminiscences, and was preparing to return to Mantua, when the charms of Elizabeth Brants induced him to change his intention. Being thus determined not to exile himself again, he had a house built, which still exists at Antwerp, in which he collected all the pictures, antique busts, and porphyry and agate vases, that he had purchased during his travels. This remarkable collection did not remain long in his possession, not being able to refuse it to the Duke of Buckingham, who offered him sixty thousand florins for it. With a lively imagination, and a great facility of execution, Rubens was still very systematic in his habits and pursuits; his hours'were regulated, and never encroached on each other. To lose no time, and to continued enriching his mind, he never painted without having some useful work read to him, and his studies had been so varied in that respect, that he understood seven different languages, three of which, it is true, are very similar, the German, Flemish, and Dutch. Notwithstanding the rapidity with which Rubens worked, he could scarcely meet the orders he received, and therefore he sometimes was assisted by several of his pupils, in the respective branches in which they excelled. Wildens and Van Uden painted the landscapes in several of his pictures ; Sneyders the animals, also the fruit and flowers. So extensive a reputation, and founded on so much talent, could not guard Rubens against the attacks of calumny. Endowed with a mild character, affable and benevolent, delighting to do good, he saw himself attacked by artists to whom he had been useful, and who pretended this great master could not succeed, but by the aid of his pupils. He easily proved the contrary, by producing landscapes of the finest effect painted by himself. Rubens was invited to Paris, by Mary de Medicis, to paint the principal events of her life, in one of the galleries of her palace, since called the Luxembourg. He then made small

I V HIST. AND CRIT. NOTICE OF RUBENS.

sketches in black and white, which Felibien saw at M. Claude Maugis, abbot of St. Ambrose, and which are now in the Munich gallery. Rubens endured a great deal of vexation from that Princess, according to a letter he wrote to M. Dupuy, in 163o, and which has appeared in the Isographie des Hommes celèbres. It was'not merely by his talents in painting that Rubens was remarkable : gifted with a mild temper, an agreeable and ready conversation, a lively and penetrating mind, and an harmonious voice, he spoke well, and played a distinguished part in diplomacy. He was charged with various missions; and amongst them, one, in 1628, to the Spanish Court, where, independently of the presents he received from the King, he was appointed secretary to the privy-council, with the reversion in favour of his son ; another of his missions was to Charles I, King of England. After being a widower four years, Rubens married Helena Forman, aged sixteen, equally remarkable for her beauty as his first wife; but he lived only ten years after this marriage : he died May3o, 164o. Deeply regretted, his funeral was performed with the highest honours, and he was buried in a chapel, behind the choir of the church of St. James, at Brussels. His paintings, spread throughout all Europe, exceed the numher of two hundred and fifty : he had many pupils, of whom the most celebrated are, Van Dyck, David Teniers the father, James Jordaens, Cornelius Schut, Diepenbeck, Van Thulden, and Erasmus Quellinus. He formed also a school of engravers, remarkable for the fine effect, and, in a manr.er of speaking, the colour, which is admired in their points. The principal artists who have engraved after Rubens are Lucas Vorsterman, Scheldt and Bœthus native of Bolswer, Paul Pontius, Witdoech, Peter de Jode, Pancels, and William de Leew.

[merged small][graphic]
« ForrigeFortsæt »