Rubens dedicated this work to Helena Fourment, his second wife, as celebration of their marriage. Helena was termed "the most beautiful woman in Antwerp" and is included in the painting itself.
Their is a clear use of symbolism throughout this outdoor scene, with the fountain representing a happy and healthy marriage. It sits in the foreground, but to the right hand side of the composition. The overall style of this painting has a very specific label as part of the Merry Company genre, which can be seen throughout the Baroque movement. Early on it is believed that this artwork was actually titled The Garden Party.
The clothing of those in the garden is luxurious, oozing wealth and elegance. There are mythological elements in this painting with the cupids which fly around in the sky at the top of the canvas. It was in the Renaissance and Baroque eras that architecture was to be depicted accurately as background elements to complex outdoor scenes. You will find here the use of achitectural styling at the background of the painting, increasing the feeling of status and opulence of those celebrating with their garden picnic.
The Garden of Love is one of a number of Rubens paintings on display at the Prado Museum in Madrid, alongside The Three Graces and The Immaculate Conception.
The early to mid stages of the Renaissance were famously dominated by artists from the Papal States of Italy, but it wasn't long before the flemish region of Europe would start to have its own influence. Rubens was just one of several significant figures to come from this region in and around the Baroque period. No introduction is required for Rembrandt, whilst Vermeer and Hieronymus Bosch were also exceptional artists who left a huge impact on North European art.
Famous Peter Paul Rubens Paintings that featured Helena Fourment
She can be found in multiple Rubens paintings, including individual portraits where she is by herself. She also modelled for more complex, religiously-themed compositions. Helena Fourment and Peter Paul Rubens married at St James in Antwerp on the 6th December 1630. The painting shown here, therefore, took some time before it was completed, several years after their wedding.
- Helena Fourment
- Helena Fourment in wedding dress
- Helena Fourment with two of her children
- Helena Fourment with her Son Francis
- Portrait of Helena Fourment
- Rubens with Helena Fourment and their son Peter Paul
- Helena Fourment with a Carriage
- Helena Fourment with her first husband and child