Prague Castle – Assembly of Olympian Gods - Peter Paul Rubens issue by Czech Republic

May 28th, 2014

Ceska Posta issued a stamp and a miniature sheet dedicated to the painting by Peter Rubens "Assembly of Olympian Gods".

Peter Paul Rubens (28 June 1577, Siegen–30 May 1640, Antwerp) was a Flemish painter, one of the world's greatest visual artists, a master of the Baroque style, and the most important Flemish painter of the 17th century.

He was born in Westphalia in the city of Siegen to the successful family of the Protestant Antwerp lawyer Jan Rubens, who fled from Antwerp due to religious oppression. The family of the lawyer Rubens was staying in Siegen involuntarily: Jan Rubens was sentenced to settle there for five years for his alleged infidelity with Anna of Saxony (the wife of William I of Orange). Here the son of Mr. and Mrs. Rubens, Peter Paul Rubens, was born. In 1589, two years after his father's death, he returned to Antwerp together with his mother and was converted to Catholicism: Religious motifs became the most important in his later works.

In Antwerp, his mother let him study under the best local painters. In 1600 he went to Italy, where he worked as a court painter for the Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga of Mantua. He visited Venice, Rome and Genoa, where he studied classical art and learned by copying works of Italian masters. His style at that time was heavily influenced by Titian.

After his mother's death in 1608 he returned to Antwerp and a year later he married Isabella Brant. His paintings The Elevation of the Cross(1610) and The Descent from the Cross (1611–1614) for the Cathedral of Our Lady ranked him as one of the most acclaimed Flemish painters.

He received many orders from the French royal court, including a series of allegorical paintings on the life of Marie de Medici (they are now located in the Louvre). For the large amount of orders he received, he established a workshop in Antwerp, in which his disciples worked, many of whom became famous later, such as Anthony van Dyck.

From 1621 to 1633 he actively participated in many diplomatic meetings. The Spanish King Philip IV entrusted him with the challenge of achieving a convergence between Spain and England. To Rubens's credit was the peace treaty between England and Spain, signed on 15 November 1630. The English King Charles I knighted him for this effort and he was also richly endowed.

He died at the age of 63 and is buried in the St. James's Church in Antwerp.

The painting "Assembly of Olympian Gods" is one of the earlier Rubens pieces from 1602 and, most probably, it shows a disagreement between Venus and Juno. It is also possible that because of its wide format and long sides, the painting was placed on the ceiling of the Prague Castle and was saved from the plundering of the Swedish army in 1648.