Views from The Rubens House (with a musical gift)

17 Jan

We decided to visit the house of great 17th century painter Peter Paul Rubens this Sunday. It is called “Rubenshuis” in Dutch and with its beautiful (but somewhat neglected-during-this-winter) garden it lets you feel like you’re in a time travel:

“In a side-street (named ‘Wapper’) of the Meir avenue stands the former house of Peter Paul Rubens, the greatest and most famous of all the Antwerp painters. Rubens bought an existing 16th century house here, after he had returned from his stay in Italy (1600-1608). He lived in the house from 1616 onwards and died here in 1640.

Rubens had it embellished and turned it into one of the most elegant Renaissance-Baroque Houses of the Low Countries, with a beautiful restyled garden and an impressive entrance. It was here that most of his splendid Baroque paintings were created. Diplomats, artists, art lovers and collectors, scientists and even the Spanish Archdukes Albert and Isabella visited him here. It was also here that his first wife Isabella Brant and his daughter died.

After his death the house was sold to others who, through the course of time, changed it considerably. In 1937 the severely damaged house was bought by the City of Antwerp (thanks to Mayor Camille Huysmans). Two old sketches from the 1680’s (the oldest known images of the house) were used as basis for the restoration.

It now houses the ‘Rubens House -Museum’. Nowadays visitors to the house should be aware that they don’t visit a house as it was left behind by its most famous inhabitant, but rather a reconstruction of what it must have looked like in the first half of the 17th century. The collection of paintings by Rubens himself and by some of his contemporaries alone already make it worth to pay the entrance fee. During a visit one can stroll through the reconstructed garden, visit the work shop of Rubens and his private quarters.” (Source:

It was also nice to see an interesting album at the museum shop: ‘Amorous in Music: William Cavendish in Antwerp (1648-1660)

Amorous in Music: William Cavendish in Antwerp (1648-1660)

Amorous in Music: William Cavendish in Antwerp (1648-1660)

The William Cavendish of the title was Duke of Newcastle — an artistic patron, Royalist Commander in the Civil War, and an exile follower the defeat of the King’s cause. He was born in 1593 and in 1648, eight years before his death, he took rooms in the house belonging to the painter Peter Paul Rubens in Antwerp. There he rose to a position of eminence in the arts as a knowledgeable and appreciative patron in the Low Countries. All branches benefited from his patronage — music, of course, but also painting and the sciences and literature.

He was referred to in Clarendon’s The History of the Rebellion and the Civil Wars in England as “amorous in poetry and music, to which he indulged the greatest part of his time” ? hence the title of this disc, though Parliament took a different view, calling him “one of Apollo’s Whirligigs.”

The reviews by Glyn Pursglove and Jonathan Woolf describes this musical gem very well and helps the listener feel the atmosphere of 17th century better.

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 17, 2011 in General


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: