Flemish Baroque Painter and Draftsman
Peter Paul Rubens led a charmed life. He was attractive, well-educated, a born courtier and, by dint of talent, had a virtual lock on the portrait market in northern Europe. He was knighted, feted, grew fabulously wealthy from commissions and died before he outlived his talent. More importantly for the history of art, he managed to synthesize a number of factors - from the masters of the Renaissance and the early Baroque - and create the first truly "European" style of painting.
From 1600 to 1608, Rubens lived in Italy, at the service of the Duke of Mantua. During this time he carefully studied the works of the Renaissance masters. Upon his return to Antwerp, he became the court painter to the Spanish governors of Flanders and subsequently to Charles I of England (who, in fact, knighted Rubens for diplomatic work) and Marie de' Medici, Queen of France.
The more well-known works he turned out during the next thirty years include The Elevation of the Cross (1610), The Lion Hunt (1617-18), and Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus (1617). His court portraits were in great demand, as he frequently placed their subjects in juxtaposition with gods and goddesses of mythology to better acknowledge the lofty positions of nobility and royalty. He painted religious and hunting themes, as well as landscapes, but is best known for his oft-unclothed figures - he loved portraying girls with "meat" on their bones, and middle-aged women everywhere thank him to this day - who seem to swirl in movement.
Birth: June 28, 1577, Siegen, German province of Westphalia
Death: May 30, 1640, Antwerp, Spanish Netherlands (modern Belgium)
"My talent is such that no undertaking, however vast in size...has ever surpassed my courage."
Peter Paul Rubens and his paintings in Wikipedia
Peter Paul Rubens and his art in WebMuseum