Rubens as architect
In 1610, Rubens purchased ene huysinge (a house) with land along Wapper in Antwerp, near the place where Rubens lived and played as a child, together with Isabella Brant, his first wife. How much did they pay? The price of 8,960 guilders and "een stuck schilderije bij sijn eigen hand gemaect" (a painting by the artist). Rubens wanted to renovate and expand the house. He drew the plans for the renovation himself, and was inspired by the architecture of Roman Antiquity and by famous Renaissance artists and architects. During the renovations Rubens and his family lived with Isabella's parents in Kloosterstraat in Antwerp.
The outcome was magnificent: the old-Flemish home was extended with a studio, a garden pavilion and a semi-circular sculpture museum with a dome. A magnificent portico connected the existing house with the new studio as well as offering a beautiful view of the courtyard garden and the garden pavilion. Rubens may have only put his ideas about architecture into practice once in his life but it is apparent that he was a great connoisseur of architecture.
Palazzo on the Scheldt
The renovations gave the house the ambiance and appearance of an Italian palazzo, as well as embodying Rubens’s artistic ideals: the art of Roman Antiquity and the Italian Renaissance. He amassed a world-class collection of antique sculptures and paintings in his house. The splendour that Rubens displayed was simply unparalleled in the Netherlands.
Rubens’s Palazzo on the Scheldt is one of the best-known artist’s residences in the world.