Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish, 1577 - 1640
Medium: Oil on canvas
Painting: 45 1/2 x 38 1/4 in. (115.6 x 97.2 cm)
Frame: 55 1/8 x 47 1/2 in. (140 x 120.7 cm)
Credit Line: Memphis Park Commission purchase
Object Number: 43.19
Sir Peter Paul Rubens was the most prolific and versatile master of the Baroque style in northern Europe. Trained in Antwerp, he went to Italy in 1600 as Court Painter to Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua. Soon thereafter, he traveled to most of Italy's principal cities as well as to Madrid and was greatly impressed by the art of Michelangelo, Titian and Caravaggio. He returned to Flanders in 1608 where he was appointed Court Painter and later a diplomatic representative of the Spanish Governors of the Netherlands. Commissions poured into his large studio where he collaborated with many first rank assistants to produce a vast number of commissions, from altarpieces and portraits to ceiling paintings and tapestry designs, in a dramatic and passionate style.
Attributed to Rubens, this painting is thought to be a copy after a lost Titian portrait of Vincenzo Gonzaga's mother, Eleanora, Duchess of Mantua. It typifies an official portrait style established by Titian in the mid sixteenth-century and later exploited by Rubens, Van Dyck, and others.