Painting landscapes was very much a private activity for Peter Paul Rubens. Whilst the majority of his other works were commissioned, the landscapes seem to have been painted for his own pleasure and delight and stayed in the artist’s possession until his death. Most of them were painted in the last decade of his life; a happy period, in which Rubens retired from public duties and spent most of his free time studying the antique and enjoying sojourns on his country estate, castle Het Steen.
To grasp this profoundly personal character of Rubens’s landscapes, this book considers the artist’s highly complex method of pictorial invention to illuminate the perception, implementation, dissemination, and posthumous reception of views on nature and landscape as depicted in Rubens’s landscape art.
By investigating contemporary notions on the changing perception of nature and landscape in late 16th and early 17th-century southern Netherlandish culture, Rubens’s position within this socio-cultural matrix will be established, thus shedding new light on the artist’s own perception of nature and landscape. The re-assessment of the influence of classical and contemporary ideas about nature and landscape, as well as Rubens’s personal sense of place, will illuminate important characteristics which further define Rubens’s ideas about nature implemented in his landscape art. Also, fresh light will be cast on the sudden promulgation and dissemination of Rubens’s apparently private views on nature and landscape through a novel examination of the print series of the Small and Large Landscapes, reproducing the artist’s landscapes. The final theme in this illuminating book considers the posthumous reception of Rubens’s ‘painted ideas of landscape’.
The book also contains an updated version of the catalogue raisonné of Rubens’s landscape art, supplemented by a record of the Small and Large Landscapes prints series.