Peter Paul Rubens / Rubens, His Wife Helena Fourment (1614-1673), and Their Son Peter Paul (born 1637) / probably late 1630sPeter Paul Rubens
Rubens, His Wife Helena Fourment (1614-1673), and Their Son Peter Paul (born 1637)
probably late 1630s

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Creator Name: Rubens, Peter Paul
Creator Nationality: European; Flemish
Creator Role: Artist
Creator Dates/Places: Flemish, 1577-1640
Creator Name-CRT: Peter Paul Rubens
Title: Rubens, His Wife Helena Fourment (1614-1673), and Their Son Peter Paul (born 1637)
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1636
Creation End Date: 1639
Creation Date: probably late 1630s
Object Type: Paintings
Materials and Techniques: oil on wood
Dimensions: 80 1/4 x 62 1/4 in. (203.8 x 158.1 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1981.238
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, in honor of Sir John Pope-Hennessy, 1981

This magnificent portrait of Rubens; his second wife, Helena Fourment; and one of their five children has usually been dated on stylistic grounds to the late 1630s. The child's blue sash, heavy shoes, and plain collar resemble adult male attire and suggest that he is either Frans Rubens, born in 1633, or, more likely, Peter Paul, born March 1, 1637.

Rubens married Helena Fourment on December 6, 1630, when he was fifty-three and she was sixteen. Helena became the model and the inspiration for many paintings by Rubens dating from the 1630s, particularly those dealing with themes of ideal beauty or love. The present composition was considerably revised during execution to shift the emphasis from Rubens, as the dominant half of a courtly couple, to Helena, as ideal wife and mother. The parrot, long a symbol of the Virgin Mary, suggests ideal motherhood, while the fountain, caryatid, and garden setting imply fertility and recall Rubens's own garden in Antwerp, where he frequently escorted Helena.

The painting hung at Blenheim, the Churchill family seat, between its presentation to the first duke of Marlborough by the city of Brussels in 1704 and its purchase by Baron Alphonse de Rothschild in 1884.

AMICA ID: MMA_.1981.238
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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