His personality

He was affluent, well-read and a gentleman. And that is how Rubens also presented himself. In his four self-portraits he always depicted himself as a confident and distinguished gentleman, never as a painter.

He was extraordinarily intelligent - he spoke seven languages - and had impressive organisational skills. We know this from Otto Sperling, who visited Rubens's studio in 1621.

The young Dane expresses a mix of surprise and admiration. He encountered Rubens while he was painting and being read to from the works of the Roman author Tacitus. He was also dictating a letter in the meantime as well as engaging in a conversation with Sperling.