The Life of Peter Paul Rubens

1577Peter Paul Rubens is born on 28 July in Siegen, Germany.
1578The family moves to Cologne.
1587Death of Jan Rubens, the artist's father.
1589Rubens's mother, Maria Pypelinckx, returns to Antwerp, where her children Blandina, Filips and Peter Paul attend Rombout Verdonck's Latin school.
1591Rubens is apprenticed to Tobias Verhaecht.
1592Trains with Adam van Noort.
1594-95Moves to the workshop of Otto van Veen.
1598Becomes a master painter in the Antwerp Guide of St Luke.
1600Departs for Italy on 9 May. Appointed court painter to Vincenzo Gonzaga in Mantua.
1601-02Travels to Rome.
1603Travels to Spain. Paints Equestrian Portrait of the Duke of Lerma (Prado, Madrid)
1604Returns to Mantua.
1605Completes three altarpieces for the Jesuit church of Santissima Trinità in Mantua.
1606-08Returns to Rome. Commissioned to paint a piece for the high altar of the church of S Maria in Vallicella. An initial version is rejected in 1607; the second and final version is completed in 1608.
1608Death of Rubens's mother. He returns to Antwerp.
1609Rubens is appointed as court painter to the Archdukes Albert and Isabella in Brussels, but goes on living in Antwerp and establishes a workshop there. On 3 October he marries Isabella Brant. He paints the Adoration of the Magi (Prado, Madrid) and The Artist and His Wife in a Honeysuckle Bower (Alte Pinakothek, Munich).
1610Begins the Raising of the Cross for the church of St Walburg (now in the Antwerp cathedral). Purchases a house on the Wapper, which he expands to make room for his studio.
1611Begins work on the Descent from the Cross (for the Antwerp cathedral). His first child, Clara Serena, is born. Death of his brother Filips Rubens.
1614Birth of Albert, Rubens's first son.
1615-20Collaborates with Jan Brueghel the Elder and Frans Snyders.
1616Anthony van Dyck joins his workshop as an assistant.
1618Birth of Rubens's second son, Nicolaas. Completes Daniel in the Lion's Den, according to a list of works offered for sale. The Decius Mus series of tapestries is woven in Brussels.
1620Commissioned to produce 39 ceiling paintings on canvas and three altar pieces for the Jesuit church (now St Carlo Borromeo) in Antwerp.
1621Van Dyck leaves Rubens's studio and goes to England. Rubens receives a commission from Marie de' Medici to produce a cycle of paintings for the Palais de Luxembourg in Paris.
1622-25Travels to Paris several times to work on the Medici cycle. Meets Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc. Becomes active as a diplomat, negotiating for peace in the Netherlands on behalf of Archduchess Isabella.
1623Death of his daughter Clara Serena.
1624Rubens is knighted by Philip IV. He embarks on a secret mission to the northern Netherlands for Archduchess Isabella.
1625Ceremonial unveiling of the Medici cycle. Meets the Duke of Buckingham in Paris. Begins work on the Assumption of the Virgin for the cathedral in Antwerp.
1626Death of Isabella Brant.
1627Travels to Rotterdam, Delft, Amsterdam and Utrecht for secret meetings with Balthasar Gerbier, an agent of the Duke of Buckingham. Begins the Eucharist series for the convent of the Descalzas Reales in Madrid.
1628Begins the unfinished Henry IV cycle for the Palais de Luxembourg. Paints Madonna Enthroned with Saints for the Church of St Augustine in Antwerp. Goes on a diplomatic mission to Madrid. Meets Velázquez. Paints the Equestrian Portrait of Philip IV (original lost; copy in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence) and portraits of the royal family. Copies paintings by Titian.
1629Leaves Madrid on 29 April and travels to England by way of Paris, Brussels and Antwerp to prepare a peace treaty with Spain. Paints Allegory of Peace for Charles I.
1630Knighted by Charles I before departing for Antwerp in March. Marries Hélène Fourment on 6 December. Begins work on the Ildefonso altarpiece for the church of St Jacques-sur-le-Coudenburg in Brussels (now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)
1631Hosts Marie de' Medici. Travels to The Hague to continue peace negotiations.
1632Birth of his daughter Clara Johanna.
1633Birth of his son Frans.
1634Completes paintings for Banqueting House, Whitehall, London. Designs decorations for the Joyous Entry of Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand into Antwerp. Also paints The Garden of Love around this time.
1635The cardinal-infante visits Rubens as part of his official entry into Antwerp. Birth of Rubens's daughter Isabella Helena. Rubens purchases the country estate of Het Steen in Elewijt, near Mechelen. Paintings produced around this time include The Feast of Venus, Portrait of Hélène Fourment in a Fur Wrap and various landscapes, such as View of Het Steen in the Early Morning.
1636Appointed as court painter to Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand in Brussels. Commissioned by Philip IV to decorate the royal hunting lodge of Torre de la Parada.
1637Birth of his son, Peter Paul. Receives commission for the Crucifixion of St Peter for the Church of St Peter in Cologne.
1638The Horrors of War is sent to Florence (Galleria Pitti, Florence).
1639Paints The Judgment of Paris for Philip IV (Prado, Madrid) and, around the same time, his late self-portrait.
1640On 17 May he makes a will. Rubens dies on 30 May and is buried on 2 June.

Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) and workshop, Venus and Adonis. C. 1614, Oil on panel. 83 x 90.5 cm © State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

Opening hours

Daily 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Closed on April 26 and December 25

© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

The Hermitage Amsterdam is located on Amstel 51, Amsterdam

Photo Janiek Dam

More information:
+31 (0)20 530 74 88

More information online ticketing:
+31 (0)20 530 87 55