PLEASE NOTE: this work is on long term loan at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney more information
Peter Paul Rubens was one of the most important
Baroque artists in the seventeenth century. He was also a successful courtier
and diplomat who represented the Spanish Netherlands in the courts of
Europe. Rubens has painted himself in full court dress to emphasise his
status as a gentleman of Antwerp. The painting is a triumph of naturalism.
The development of oil paint in Northern Europe in the fifteenth century
meant that artists were able to obtain greater control over colour and
tone. In this self-portrait, Rubens’ high-keyed skin tones are contrasted
against a dramatic, almost theatrical backdrop — the artist’s
quizzical stare seems to acknowledge the artifice of painting.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010