Self Portrait with Isabella Brant - Peter Paul Rubens. 178x215; 136.5 cm
1609 was a very successful year for the painter - his fate brings him to the secretary of the court of the city Jan Brant. Brant had a young eighteen-year-old daughter, Isabella, who simply captivated thirty-year-old Rubens. In just a few months, they will enter into a legal marriage based on a tender mutual feeling.
Of course, the artist wanted to portray his happiness on the canvas, and in 1610 he completed his famous "Self-portrait with Isabella Brant."
The canvas is distinguished by virtuosity and brilliance. From the first minutes of contemplating the work, the viewer's attention is drawn to the composition of the picture - it is far from the usual ceremonial portraits. The artist sits freely and naturally, cross-legged. Nearby is the beloved wife, on whose face a mysterious half-smile plays, and her hand gently touches the artist’s hand. This ease of poses, frank tenderness between the portrayed, gives the picture a lyrical pastoral mood.
It seems that everything in this work follows the canons of a ceremonial portrait - both rich costumes, and the background, and with what nobility and dignity the heroes look at the viewer, however, Rubens managed to avoid the static nature of this genre, filling it with love and personal feelings. The artist did not easily portray himself with his wife, but also demonstrated his attitude to marriage - this is an absolutely equal union based on love and trust.
Of great importance in the picture is the background - it is a realistically embodied landscape, where you can see the spreading bush of honeysuckle, grass underfoot, the boundless sky behind the backs of the heroes. At the same time, the author wrote their figures and his wife in this landscape so that it seems as if the picture was painted in an open air (although this tradition will be embodied only by the Impressionists many years later), and the whole composition looks very real.
Despite the significant age difference, Rubens outlived his young wife, whose life was claimed by the plague in 1626.