Rubens, His Wife Helena Fourment (1614–1673), and Their Son Frans (1633–1678)

Artist: Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, Siegen 1577–1640 Antwerp)

Date: ca. 1635

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: 80 1/4 x 62 1/4 in. (203.8 x 158.1 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, in honor of Sir John Pope-Hennessy, 1981

Accession Number: 1981.238

Description

This magnificent portrait shows the artist with his second wife and one of their five children strolling in a "Garden of Love." The child wears male attire and must be Frans (1633–1678). He appears without his older sister because the picture is not a family portrait but an homage to Helena as wife and mother, one of whose most important attributes was providing her husband with a son. The gestures and glances of both male figures and symbols of fecundity such as the fountain and caryatid pay tribute to Helena, who has the innocence and serenity of a female saint. For further discussion of this famous picture, see metmuseum.org/collections.

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