(Born Siegen, Westphalia, 28 June 1577; died Antwerp, 30 May 1640). Flemish painter, draughtsman, designer, and diplomat, the greatest and most influential figure in Baroque art in northern Europe. He was born in Germany, the son of a scholarly lawyer from Antwerp who left the city to escape religious persecution (he had Protestant sympathies). In 1587, soon after his father's death, he returned to Antwerp with his mother; he had been baptized a Calvinist in Germany, but he became a devout Catholic. From about 1590 he studied successively with three fairly undistinguished masters: Tobias Verhaecht (1561–1631), who was a distant relative, Adam van Noort (1562–1641), and Otto van Veen. The first two could teach him no more than the local tradition, but van Veen was a man of some culture, who had spent several years in Rome, and he no doubt inspired his pupil with a desire to visit Italy. Rubens became a master in the Antwerp painters' guild in 1598, and after working with van Veen for two more years he set out for Italy in 1600.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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