Peter Paul Rubens

A few years ago, the King Baudouin Foundation acquired Rubens's theoretical notebook at an auction in New York. Since then this valuable manuscript has taken pride of place in the Rubens House's permanent collection.

The notebook is one of the four known copies of Rubens's manuscript. This was lost in 1720 in a spectacular fire in the Louvre.

 

The "De Ganay" manuscript

The so-called "De Ganay manuscript" dates from the seventeenth century. It was probably copied by someone who knew Rubens intimately a few years after his death. The notebook shows that Rubens, in addition to being a great and inspired artist, was also an extraordinary and intriguing theorist.

The notebook expounds on Rubens's ideas about perspective, anatomy, proportions and symmetry. Rubens also conducted a study of the human passions, comparing literature with painting.

Rubens’s theoretical notebook was included in the recent part (2013) of the Corpus Rubenianum, a catalogue in several parts about Rubens's body of work. The authors are Professor Arnout Balis (VUB) and Dr David Jaffé (curator of the National Gallery in London).