Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640): The Drawings

January 15–April 3, 2005

Farm Life and Landscapes

Despite Rubens's long stay in Italy, his art was solidly based upon and connected with the art of his northern predecessors and contemporaries. In his large collection of paintings, places of honor were given to the works of the Flemish artists Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Adriaen Brouwer. Especially in the 1630s, perhaps because of his remarriage and resettling in Antwerp—which may have inspired a renewed love of Flanders, after his extensive travels—Rubens followed in their tradition of depicting local outdoor life and genre scenes.

This interest in his immediate surroundings greatly increased after he purchased his country estate, Het Steen, near Mechelen, in 1635. At this time, he produced many landscapes. In 1681 Roger de Piles wrote in his biography of Rubens (based on correspondence with the artist's nephew Philip) that Rubens enjoyed living in solitude and painting the hills and surrounding valleys, at sunrise and at sunset.