Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) lived in Europe hundreds of years ago, in the seventeenth century. He spent most of his life in Antwerp, a city in present-day Belgium, but he also traveled throughout Europe as an artist and a diplomat.
Rubens was inspired by a long trip he took to Italy early in his career. In Italy, Rubens studied ancient Greek and Roman art, as well as the work of Italian artists. After the trip, Rubens returned to Antwerp, where he had a large workshop with assistants and students. Rubens made paintings for kings and queens and other important people throughout Europe—paintings to decorate their palaces, and portraits to make them look powerful.
Rubens's 24-painting cycle for the Queen of France Marie de Médici is a particularly imaginative and dramatic example of his royal portraiture. Rubens also painted for wealthy business families and for churches. Along with his portraits and religious paintings, Rubens made paintings of gods and goddesses and paintings of ancient or contemporary history, as well as vivid landscapes and depictions of exciting activities, like wild animal hunting. His paintings are full of emotion and energy; he is known for his expressive painting style and for the brilliant colors he used. Rubens's art influenced many other artists who lived at the same time and who came after him.