There's a lot of hype around Peter Paul Rubens at the moment with a recent BBC documentary tying in with the upcoming Royal Academy's January blockbuster exhibition, which is all about Rubens and his legacy. But the Royal Academy won't be the only place to see his works.
The prolific painter grew up in Germany, trained in Antwerp, mastered his style in both Italy and Spain and then travelled extensively throughout Europe as both a painter and diplomat. The combination of styles meant that Rubens was extremely versatile and thus also such a captivating painter — and means his creations can be found throughout Europe. We've put together a list of places where you can see his works across London:
Arguably London's most spectacular ceiling was painted by Rubens during the reign of Charles I, depicting Charles's father James I surrounded by women representing his virtues. It's the only ceiling by Rubens still in situ. Banqueting House is never as busy as it deserves to be, and sinking into one of their beanbags and getting lost in this massive painting is a great way to spend an hour. Tickets are £6.60 for adults.
The UK's largest collection of Western European art is the logical place to go to see Rubens's paintings. Alongside some landscapes there are the biblical scenes he is renowned for, including a depiction of a slumbering Samson having been seduced by Delilah, in the process of having his hair shorn. Other notable paintings are the tumultuous scenes depicting the rape of the Sabine women and Israelites being plagued by serpents. Entrance free.
The Courtauld Gallery
This is a superb collection of paintings and it has even more works by Rubens than the National Gallery, though not all are on permanent display. Highlights include an enchanting moonlit landscape and a triptych centring on the descent of Christ from the cross. Tickets are £7 for adults.
The Wallace Collection
Located in the heart of London, we're surprised by how many people are unaware of this impressive, and free to visit, collection of classical paintings. Rubens's most eye-catching work here is an oil sketch of a vivid battle scene complete with fallen men and horses, depicting the defeat of Maxentius by Constantine the Great, a battle that left the latter to become the first Christian emperor of Rome. Now that the Great Gallery upstairs has been refurbished and with an upcoming Joshua Reynolds exhibition, this may be the year to finally pay a visit. Entrance free.
Dulwich Picture Gallery
This often overlooked South London gallery holds 11 works by Rubens. Though they aren't the strongest pieces in the collection, it covers a wide repertoire of portraiture, religious and mythological scenes — plus works by artists inspired by Rubens. A visit can be combined with viewing the exhibition of impressive paintings by Canadian artist Emily Carr. Tickets for the exhibition and permanent collection are £11, just the collection is £6.
You can also find two portraits by Rubens at both the National Portrait Gallery and Apsley House, plus a sketch at Tate Britain.