Period: 17th century (3573)
Type: chalk (1606)
dresses (109) | hats and headgear (1282) | portraits (1315)
Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)
Black, read and white chalk on laid paper
Width: 55 cm; Height: 61 cm;
Seilern, Antoine (Count); bequest; 1978
About this work
Having been a widower for four years, Rubens married Helena Fourment, the sixteen-year-old daughter of an Antwerp silk merchant, in December 1630. In this stunning drawing Rubens celebrates the beauty of his young wife as well as his own art. The monumental portrait presents Helena near life size in a splendid costume, however, it also allows an intimate encounter. She is shown lifting or catching her veil, which would have been suspended from the top of her striking headdress. Rubens derived this apparently natural gesture from a classical sculpture of Venus. The subtlety and variety of the red- and black-chalk marks, alongside graceful touches of white, create a body that seems to vibrate with delicate energy.
(Permanent collection label)
This work is not on display
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Copyright: © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London