A different view of Flanders
Rubens’s landscapes present a different side of an artist who is best known for painting religious, mythological or classical subjects on commission. This room assembles a group of the artist’s landscapes, which he most probably painted for his own pleasure and that of a select group of friends. This meant that they remained largely hidden from view during Rubens’s lifetime. Soon after his death they became more widely known, and many eventually found their way to Britain, where they were greatly admired by artists such as Gainsborough and Constable. The former’s Watering Place and the latter’s Hay Wain (both in Room 34) are unthinkable without Rubens’s example.
Portraits form yet another aspect of Rubens’s output and they illustrate how the artist moved in the circles of European monarchs, noblemen, connoisseurs and scholars. By contrast, Jacob Jordaens portrayed almost exclusively people from his native city of Antwerp. In both his portraits and his historical and allegorical paintings, Jordaens introduced a level of realism that is alien to the religious and mythological works of Rubens and Van Dyck.