Rubens and Titian: Art and Politics

Freedberg, David A.

When Peter Paul Rubens (b. 1577) died in 1640, his estate - according to the inventory of pictures taken at the time of his death - included eight paintings and two sketches by Titian (ca. 1488-1576). It also contained thirty-three copies painted by Rubens after works by the Venetian master. Two of these were not even listed as copies but as works by Rubens himself.

By the end of his life, Rubens loved Titian more than any other artist. One might have predicted this. Both were arguably the greatest painters, and certainly the most favored portraitists of the potentates, of their times. They painted kings, dukes, and princes and moved with easy familiarity among them loved painting the sensual forms o women and, perhaps better than any other, knew how to translate the rustic charms of the countryside into lyrical pictorial form. And while Rubens was by far a more learned man than Titian, both were steeped in classical mythology, above all in Ovid and Philostratus, and were able to transform the stories of the ancients into some of the most poetic pictures ever painted.


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Also Published In

Titian and Rubens: Power, Politics, and Style
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Published Here
April 7, 2010