HIS LIFE WAS ALL AGLITTER
AANTWERP, 2 JUNE 1640. A GOOD 60 TORCHES FLICKER TO THE SOUND OF THE STOMPING FEET OF A FUNERARY PROCESSION. A CROWN IS PLACED ON A BLACK VELVET CUSHION ON THE FRONT OF THE COFFIN. THE APPEAL OF MODERN TIMES IS ACCOMPANIED BY ETERNAL LIFE WITH A TINKLING TUNE. HELENA PROCEEDS BEHIND THE COFFIN, DONNING THE BLACK CLOTHES WORN ON THESE MOURNFUL OCCASIONS, THE YOUNG WIDOW OF THE ‘MOST COVETED MAN IN EUROPE’, CARRYING THE 7TH CHILD OF PIETRO PAOLO RUBENS IN HER WOMB. MARIA CONSTANTIA ALBERTINA WILL BE BORN 8 MONTHS FOLLOWING THE FUNERAL, BECOMING A NUN AT 16 TO FREE THE ARTISTIC WILL OF HER FATHER, SPREADING IT ACROSS THE WORLD.
Rubens, the banner of the Counter Reformation, the son of evangelical migrants, to boot, was more than a genius: Rubens is a phenomenon. Millionaire, humanist, philosopher, diplomat, secret agent, tactician, strategist, pedagogist, secretary of the Regent, merchant, owner of a company, man of finance and bon viveur, awarded the adoubment of knight not once, but twice, owner of a castle. And the most famous painter of his time. Absolutism, feudalism, mercantilism fought each other in a bloody battle ever since Europe had discovered the New World. Rubens went looking for a second European Renaissance in the soul of the classic, a new Europe employing the tools of art and colours, brush and nib.
SEDES FORTUNAE ROTUNDAE SUNT
WHO IS RUBENS?
ART derives from knowledge, knowledge is pleasure, and art derives from favour. Guarantee and maintain: the skill of the muses is embodied by beauty. If the muses love an artist, then they give away a moment of happiness. Rubens, like many other people, captured their attention, and has been giving back to the world to this very day. The painter is a servant of the spark of good luck in a gaze in a specific moment. He tries to keep it, that gaze, making the most of the power channelled in the exchange of gazes. This is the bridge between the inner and outer worlds, Ruben’s eyes are our eyes, and we look into the eyes, that saw him and that see us. Rubens paints us with sparkling eyes.
NOMEN EST OMEN
The 6th child of Jan Rubens and Maria Pipelincks, from noble families in Antwerp, the then ‘northern Rome’, was born in Siegen in Westfalen on 28 June, apparently after midnight, because he was baptised Peter and Paul, the patron of the 29th June. His destiny was destined to Rome from the very start. RUBENS in Jewish means ‘Oh LOOK, a son!’. Seeing is the gift of Jacob’s first son (PPR was also, logically, interred in Saint Jacob’s church). ‘RU’ also sounds like ‘Ruach’, the divine halo. ‘Rubeo’ in Latin means: to become red, thrive on life. The rose announces this. Red is also lifeblood. You can interpret that as a ‘blossoming’ red. Chosen people don’t need a name and surname. Like Titian, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Kepler, Plato, etc.
The first spark in an exchange of loving gazes is a witness to a next life. Love is channelled via the eyes. And this meeting is repeated with infants. A loving gaze transmits life. A newly born infant sees the world and light for the very first time by exchanging gazes with whoever holds him. The love of a loving gaze carries future life until physical death. The painter can keep this gaze alive even centuries after he’s dead. We can assume that PPR saw the loving gaze of his MOTHER Maria first, then that of his father, his brother Philipp. We find these first gazes in his pictures, time and again. The family lived in exile, the father had escaped death in prison, and everyone would have bent over the new-born, eyes aglitter. Maria Pipelincks, a novelist, was responsible for the family fortune. Indeed, the mother was PPR’s first muse. Her love accompanied him even after her death, for his whole life. The unknown muse of puberty struck PPR: Marguerite de Ligne-Arenberg, daughter of a Vliesritter, widow, may have bestowed her gaze, that of a 37-year-old woman, upon him. She loved him like her own son. Italy’s real and painted muses filled Rubens’ eyes with a sparkling adoration. Rubens progressed to become a painter of the most sparkling eyes in the whole world. The ancient values and Renaissance are here and now! This is life! This is colour!
PPR is painting it! After the death of his beloved mother he married ISABELLA BRANT, the niece of his brother. The muse with slanted, oriental eyes in Antwerp. The woman of his life! Ruben builds her an Italian palace in Antwerp. She gives birth to children with sparkling eyes. Rubens blossoms, the son born in the sign of cancer has a family, this is the rebirth of the Renaissance. The citizen becomes a prince. The craftsman becomes court painter, minister. After 17 happy years of marriage, Isabella dies, struck down by the plague. PPR travels as a diplomat across Europe, to promote the unity of the Netherlands. He would never reach this goal of his life.
Rubens has now been knighted by two rival kings, a 53-year-old painter in Europe, and has married once again, this time to the 17-year-old HELENE Fourment, with light golden hair which embodies the idea of beauty as interpreted by the Venetian master, Titian. She lived with PPR in Castle Stehen, and once again, he was blessed with children. He bequeathed her the ‘Venus im Pelz’. She was the pregnant muse, she followed Rubens’ coffin across Antwerp. She had made her man blossom again, walking in the centre of art, the happiness of muses, eyes that Ruben gave to the world. He looked at beauty, and painted the most beautiful eyes, and this gave the gift of the muses to everyone. The engine of love. Eternal happiness in a single moment. Rubens found that in the sparkling gaze of his beloved, of his children.
The child with the golden curls on the external side of the Ildefonso altar reaches for the branch with the two apples: the apple of his eye, that are given to everyone, as a gift of life. The spark in those eyes is eternal. Rubens painted happiness. The unification of his home, a riven Netherlands, he represented that as a symbolof hope in his ‘Gewitterlandschaft’: a rainbow crossing the crevice. Bottom left, in the Vienna painting. The arch of Irish, the bridge of the gods’ messenger, the colours of light, with which Rubens created present and future, the seven colours he used to create all his work, with his eyes. Those are the eyes that meet us from Tizians ‘Nymph and Shepard’ – it’s the muse! – from the golden age of peace. Bursting with love and happiness. Rubens take it, and gives it the glittering grandeur it deserves.