Peter Paul Rubens

Peter Paul Rubens


Artist and diplomat


Rubens was commissioned by James I to paint the ceiling of the Banqueting House at Whitehall.

A much sought-after artist

One of the most gifted and sought after artists of his day, Rubens had an international list of customers headed by kings and princes.

King James I commissioned him to paint the ceiling of the Banqueting House in Whitehall Palace. 

Rubens lived much in Antwerp (modern-day Belgium) but like Inigo Jones had studied in Italy early in his career.

There he mastered the new baroque style, art full of movement, three-dimensional effects and dramatic lighting, and combined this with a northern artist’s love of detail.

Much later, in 1629, Philip IV, King of Spain, sent Rubens on a mission to London.

He so impressed Charles I that he received the prestigious commission for the Banqueting House ceiling - which he and his assistants painted back in Antwerp - and was knighted for his services as a peacemaker.

Did you know?

Rubens was an influential diplomat, as well as an artist, whose work brought him to England. A fellow diplomat said he ‘had grown so rich by his profession that he appeared everywhere, not like a painter but a great cavalier’.

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