Landscape with a rainbow

Peter Paul Rubens • Painting, 1638, 181×384 cm
About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Landscape
Style of art: Baroque
Technique: Oil
Materials: Wood
Date of creation: 1638
Size: 181×384 cm
Artwork in selections: 24 selections

Description of the artwork «Landscape with a rainbow»

For a long time, Rubens seemed to deny himself to paint personal and intimate, for his own pleasure, without thinking about fame or money. He worked obsessively on what others commissioned to him. During his period of tremendous glory and inexhaustible flow of the large-scale commissions, Rubens only considered landscape as a scene for popular mythological and religious subjects. He quite calmly gave this part of the work to his students, leaving the main sketches, the faces of the subjects and the final touches for himself. At the same time, landscape turned out to be a personal passion for Rubens the collector — his personal collection such paintings prevailed.

In the last 10 years of his life, Peter Paul allowed himself to be happy, loving, independent, peaceful and sentimental. At the same time, landscape was no more secondary and auxiliary, it became important and independent genre. The artist meditated on his own happiness, giving himself to the painting that gave him pleasure.

During those years, Rubens bought a country house between Brussels and Antwerp, Het Steen Castle, left there more and more often to live with his family for a long time. Diplomatic missions, trips across Europe in pursuit of masterpieces and antique cameos, a four-year working trip Antwerp-Paris-Antwerp, Spain, Italy — they all were long over. Peter Paul was in no hurry any more. The artist was 58 years old and at home. His studio in the castle was much more modest than his Antwerp “art factory”, it was already difficult for him to hold a brush due to illness, but only then discovered he nature as an independent model, and painted it with unprecedented inspiration.

It did not mean at all that he went out into fields and painted from nature, he was not much interested in the botanical or atmospheric accuracy of his paintings. Rubens’ nature had nothing to do with the real Flemish landscape, his works were always primarily subordinated to the pictorial task. This is not the sky above the Steen Castle, but the sky in general, all those thousands of sunrises, sunsets, shades of midday heat, which the artist admired through his entire life in different parts of Europe. Rubens did not care about the momentary state of nature, his landscapes collected in space all the wonders and phenomena that happened on this earth at different times: rainbows, storms, light, winds. His landscapes are timeless and belong to any time at the same time.

Rubens painted the Landscape with a Rainbow in continuation of another work, A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning. If it were possible to take one picture from the Wallace Collection, and the second one from the National Gallery of London, combine these two views, then we would get a large-scale panorama, in the spirit of modern photography tricks. Peter Paul seemed to be unstoppable: he started with three small boards put together and added some more boards one by one. So it turned out that A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning consisted of 17 wooden boards added to the original miniature. And then he painted the second part, the Landscape with a Rainbow, near the same in size. The Rubens’ world no longer fit within one board.

The catalogue of the Fleming’s paintings has not yet been described in detail, it contains 3 thousand paintings, but only about twenty landscapes. At the same time, John Constable stated that these two works are the best that Rubens painted in his entire life.

Written by Anna Sidelnikova