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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Painting: Pre-18th century: Madonna and Child
Attributed to Peter Paul Rubens

Attributed to Peter Paul Rubens

(born Siegen, Germany 1577 -- died Antwerp, Belgium 1640)

Peter Paul Rubens was born into a prominent Antwerp family and became one of the most important artists of the seventeenth century. He served the Netherlands’ rulers as an ambassador and painted in many of Europe’s courts. With the help of a large workshop, Rubens created elaborate altarpieces, historical and mythological scenes, portraits, and landscapes. American artists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries often copied Rubens’s paintings in the museums of Europe, praising the Flemish master’s work in essays and poems. The first Rubens biography published in the United States appeared in 1878, and this heightened his popularity among American collectors. (Gijsen, Rubens in America, 1947) Leading American artists and art students alike copied Rubens’s paintings, and his work was highly popular among American collectors in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many of these patrons saw Rubens’s work firsthand on their “grand tours” of Europe’s capitals.

Image Credits: "Rubens" engraved by J. Posselwhite between 1830 and 1884. Courtesy Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102584).