Honeysuckle bower

(1609-1610; Munich, Alte Pinakothek)
   In 1609, Peter Paul Rubens was appointed official court painter to Albert and Isabella, Archdukes of Flanders. In the same year, he married Isabella Brant and rendered the Honeysuckle Bower to commemorate the event. The painting represents the first life-size self-portrait of an artist and his wife in history. It is based on traditional medieval representations of lovers, as well as Andrea Alciato's depiction of marital fidelity in his Liber Emblemata. Rubens was inspired as well by Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini Wedding Portrait (1434; London, National Gallery), particularly in the holding of hands, though his composition lacks the formality of this earlier work. Instead, husband and wife are shown in a casual, intimate moment, with Isabella sitting on the ground, her skirt draping over Rubens' foot, and her hat touching his arm. The holding of hands symbolizes concord in marriage and the garden is the locus of love.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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