Thanks for calling in.
Right in the middle of Antwerp in Belgium, you'll find the excellent, swoonworthy house belonging to the Artist Peter Paul Rubens and his first wife Isabella Brant. He lived and worked here between 1610 and 1640, enlarging the property to his own designs adding a covered, semi-circular statue gallery, a studio, a portico in the style of a triumphal arch and a garden pavilion. He assembled an internationally admired collection of paintings, sculpture and furniture. The splendour of the artist's home was unparalleled in the Low Countries. After Rubens death, the house's appearance changed.
I loved this house with it's subdued lighting, black and white floors, wonderful fireplaces and tiles. Every time we went into the next room, I couldn't help but give a little squeal of delight and was so glad we had visited. Let's have a look.
I apologise for the blurry photos taken in low light levels.
Rubens was Europe's most important and successful artist during his lifetime and could afford two country estates.
Rubens second wife was just 16 in 1630 when he married her, they had five children.
Below is the semi-circular statue gallery, turned into a chapel by a later owner.
Ascending the stairs, some of the newel posts had amazing carved figures.
The canopy bed looks really short as in those days, people slept in a half-seated position thinking this was good for the circulation and digestion.
Below is a linen press. Tablecloths were folded in a zigzag pattern and stored in the press. The creases looked pretty when laid on the table and showed that the mistress of the house had used a clean table cloth.
The dark blue background of the relief below was made of lapis lazuli.
Shortly after Rubens set up his studio, his work grew in demand internationally, so assistants became invaluable who would paint the picture based on Rubens preparatory oil sketches with Rubens finishing off the important parts afterwards which is how Raphael and Michelangelo also worked. He had to turn down countless pupils even by 1611. His best pupil was Anthony van Dyck.
Rubens spent 8 years living in Italy where he studied classical Roman and Italian Renaissance art which influenced the design of his Portico below. On top are Mercury, the God of painters and Minerva, goddess of Wisdom.
Luckily for us the courtyard and garden were open as it had just been renovated. I'll show you that next time.