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Peter Paul Rubens, A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning

Key facts
Full title An Autumn Landscape with a View of Het Steen in the Early Morning
Artist Peter Paul Rubens
Artist dates 1577 - 1640
Date made probably 1636
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 131.2 × 229.2 cm
Acquisition credit Sir George Beaumont Gift, 1823/8
Inventory number NG66
Location Room 20
Collection Main Collection
A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning
Peter Paul Rubens

On a crisp autumn morning, the rising sun casts a cool light on the manor house. Shadows are long and there’s a suggestion of dew on the grass of the meadows. The windows of the manor house and the stream meandering past it twinkle, and the few feathery clouds are tinged with gold. We are high up, so the view is spread before us, allowing us to pick out each incident within the whole: the man shooting partridges, the couple on their way to market and the lord and lady of the manor, the nearby nursemaid cradling their baby.

Peter Paul Rubens worked as a diplomat as well as an artist, and had been ennobled both in Spain by Philip IV and in England by Charles I. His status and wealth enabled him to purchase the manor of Het Steen, near Malines (now known as Mechelen), in 1635. In this landscape painting he celebrates what he treasured most: his own success, perhaps, but also the prosperity and peace of Flanders, his native land.

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