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Sir Peter Paul Rubens was a Flemish artist, producing work considered to be the epitome of the Baroque style. Each picture captured his energetic force, vitality and sensuality, lush brush strokes and a lively realist touch highlighting his intense knowledge of Renaissance art. He has influenced artists over three centuries, with his feel for the physicality and the sensual, his movement comprising bold colour choices and robust, opulent figures having a profound effect on the likes of Van Dyke, Manet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Degas and Renoir.

Rubens himself was influenced by the great works of El Greco, Caravaggio, Titan, Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo, all of whom he studied whilst on his travels throughout Italy and Spain. Though his masterpieces included portraits and landscapes, Rubens is perhaps best known for his religious altarpieces: the larger the scale of the painting the more it suited his nature. Rubens was able to infuse these pieces with his own exuberant style and it was this that came to define the Baroque art of the 17th Century.

The impressive quality of Ruben’s art, however, was just part of this multi-layered genius. He was also a diplomat, a scholar, a humanist, an antiquarian, a learned Classicist, an architect, a linguist, a devout Roman Catholic, a husband and the father of eight children. It’s safe to say, he was not a struggling artist!

After studying Ruben’s works in various museums around the world, my desire was to emulate his style and in doing so it has been a fascinating journey. Working out the base colour palette, getting the rich strokes of his paintbrush and the realism continues to be an on-going challenge. This portrait of Clara Serena Rubens is a touching painting of Rubens’ five-year-old daughter.

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