Peter Paul Rubens, (born June 28, 1577, Siegen, Nassau, Westphalia [Germany]—died May 30, 1640, Antwerp, Spanish Netherlands [now in Belgium]), Flemish painter who was the greatest exponent of Baroque painting’s dynamism, vitality, and sensuous exuberance.
In October 1600 Rubens accompanied the duke to Florence to attend the marriage-by-proxy of Gonzaga’s sister-in-law Marie de Médicis to King Henry IV of France, a scene Rubens was to re-create a quarter-century later for the queen. By the end of the first year he had travelled throughout Italy, sketchbook in hand. The copies he made of Renaissance paintings offer a rich survey of the achievements of 16th-century Italian art.
The art of Peter Paul Rubens is a fusion of the traditions of Flemish realism with the Classicizing tendencies of the Italian Renaissance. Rubens was able to infuse his own astounding vitality into a powerful and exuberant style that came to epitomize the Baroque art of the 17th century. The ample, robust, and opulent figures in his paintings generate a pervasive sense of movement in vivid, dynamic compositions.
Rubens’s recurrent impact on artists was almost as universal as the talents of the man himself. Painter, diplomat, impresario, scholar, antiquarian, architect, humanist—Rubens embodied the Baroque fulfilment of the Renaissance man.