Childhood and early life
Peter Paul Rubens spends almost twelve of the first twenty years of his life in Germany. In Antwerp he studies under three teachers in succession, and at the age of 21 becomes a master painter.
On 28 June, the feast day of the apostles Peter and Paul, Peter Paul Rubens is born in Siegen (Westphalia). It is here that his parents, the lawyer Jan Rubens and his wife Maria Pypelinckx, had lived since 1568. In that year they left their city of Antwerp, which was deeply mired in religious discord. Jan Rubens had demonstrated Calvinist leanings. In 1578 the Rubens family moves to Cologne. Peter Paul has an older brother, Philip, and a sister, Baldina.
His father, Jan Rubens, dies.
The widow Maria Pypelinckx returns with her children to Antwerp, where Rubens attends the Latin school. There he meets his childhood friend Balthasar Moretus, the grandson of Christophe Plantin, who would later lead the renowned printing and publishing company.
Rubens resides in Oudenaarde for a time with Marguerite de Ligne, the widow of Count Philip de Lalaing. He becomes a page and learns the ways of noble society. According to his own account, he was at this time already copying the works of masters such as Albrecht Dürer and Hans Holbein.
Rubens begins an apprenticeship with Otto van Veen, at that time the most gifted painter in Antwerp. The young man had previously studied under the landscape painter Tobias Verhaecht, as well as Adam van Noort.
Even though he still has no studio of his own and continues for some time to work under Otto van Veen, Rubens is listed as a master painter in the membership list of Antwerp’s Guild of Saint Luke.
Do you have any questions, comments or suggestions?