Age of Rubens
Peter Paul Rubens’s contemporaries considered him to be one of the most extraordinary men of his time. Although largely known today as a great painter, Rubens was also a major politician and diplomat, co-architect of important European peace treaties. Moreover, he was a not inconsiderable scholar: important humanist thinkers as well as powerful monarchs considered him their friend and peer. This course will consider what it meant for such a man to make art; how his art was integrated into his diplomatic and intellectual life; what functions it served for him; and how it spoke both to past art and to present politics and philosophy. As Rubens was so much part of the international scene of his day, we will consider his art within the broader visual culture of Europe, travelling (along with him) to the Italy of Caravaggio and the Spain of Velazquez; to the England of King Charles I and the Paris of Marie de’ Medici and Cardinal Richelieu. We will also study the massive workshop Rubens ran back in Antwerp, the production models he innovated, and his practice of working collaboratively with other master artists.