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Art of the Week: December 23, 2012

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"Adoration of the Magi" by Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens

RubensPeter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), was a Flemish painter based in Antwerp. An artist, who won recognition in his lifetime, he was knighted by both Philip IV, King of Spain, and Charles I, King of England. Rubens was a key artist of the Baroque style that featured movement, color, and sensuality


In Antwerp, Ruben studied Latin and classical literature. By age 14, he began his artistic apprenticeship with the city's leading painters of the time. In 1600, Rubens travelled to Italy, where he saw paintings by Titian, Veronese, and Tintoretto. The coloring and compositions of Veronese and Tintoretto had an effect on Rubens's painting, and his later, mature style was profoundly influenced by Titian. In Florence, he was influenced by the art of Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and Caravaggio. His fondness of painting full-figured women gave rise to the term 'Rubenesque' for plus-sized woen.

Rubens painted The Adoration of the Magi more often than any other episode from the life of Christ. The painting, painted during 1616-17, offered the artist an opportunity to display rich textiles, exotic turbans, and human figures that expressed the humbling of the world before Madonna and child. The dim stable is lit by shafts of light. The painting is on display at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon.