Peter Paul Rubens
Born on 28 June 1577 in Siegen, Westphalia, Germany; died on 30 May 1640 in Antwerp, Nederlands.
He was born while his family were in exile on account of the father's Calvinism.
His mother was a Catholic, and he was first taught by the Jesuits in Cologne.
After his father's death in 1587, the family returned to Antwerp.
He studied art from his fourteenth year and went to Italy in 1600 for eight years of study and travel, including a diplomatic mission to Spain.
Settling in Antwerp in 1608, he was aided in his work by many pupils, among them Van Dyck, Teniers, and Jordaens.
In 1622 he was commissioned by Marie de' Medici to decorate the Luxembourg Palace.
On a mission to Spain, 1628, he met Velasquez, and painted the portrait of Philip IV.
Going to London as a diplomatic messenger in 1629 he was knighted by Charles I, and painted the Peace and War now in the National Gallery.
On his return to Antwerp he was made court-painter by the Archduke Ferdinand.
The amount of his work, whether done exclusively by him or with the aid of pupils, is extraordinary.
His masterpiece is The Descent from the Cross in the Antwerp cathedral.
Other paintings are The Elevation of the Cross, The Madonna Surrounded by Children, The Judgment of Paris, The Rainbow Landscape, and many portraits of his second wife, Helena Fourment.
New Catholic Dictionary