Honeysuckle Bower Peter Paul Rubens Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The full title of this painting from 1609-1610 is The Artist and his First Wife, Isabella Brant, in the Honeysuckle Bower

Peter Paul Rubens would depict each of his wives within his own work, on some occasions producing celebratory compositions to mark these marital events. The artist would always use an upbeat style with positivity throughout and a respectful depiction of his new wife. The Alte Pinakothek in Munich, Germany holds possession of this large oil on canvas, which stands at 178cm x 136.5cm.

It is hard to imagine anything more romantic than to have a partner produce a hand-painted momento of your bond and to such a high standard that it would remain famous in artistic circles for centuries to come. The lady in question was Isabella Brandt who was featured in several Rubens portraits.

Rubens and Isabella Brandt married in 1609, with this painting followed on soon after. His wife was the daughter of a well established lawyer, Jan Brandt, who was well connected within the city of Antwerp. Rubens chose to style this piece romatically, representing its content and chose to place the newly married couple under a honeysuckle bower.

The setting for this painting boasts of nature, pointing to a natural, loving relationship between these two newly-weds. Rubens would tend to use nature in his work when addressing matters of the heart, and continues this with other portraits of his wives.

Another significant element to the composition is that Rubens places his wife in a relatively equal stance, suggesting this to be a healthy and balanced relationship, which was not always the case at this time. Considering Rubens to be older and far more successful, it was not a given that he would see his wife in such a respectful vision.