Peter Paul Rubens (1577 – 1640) Born in Anwerp and raised there at a time when Flanders was a Spanish province, Rubens studied with local artists, was a page at court, and generally had a more privileged life than most painters at that time. Later, he performed various diplomatic services at the royal courts of Europe (including England) as well as painting for them. He travelled to Italy in 1600 and was based there for eight years, though he also visited Spain during that period. Aided by assistants in his Antwerp studio, he was enormously prolific–and some of his canvasses are themselves vast in size. His name has become synonymous with flesh, lots of it, as well as with energetic composition and crowded scenes.