Rubens was a connoisseur of architecture, something which is very clear from his paintings. However Rubens was also involved in some high-profile Antwerp projects. The best-known example undoubtedly is his own home, the Rubens House!
"His house will elicit the astonishment of strangers, the admiration of travellers" (Town clerk of Antwerp in 1620)
In 1610, Rubens purchased a house with land along Wapper in Antwerp, which was and still is a very nice neighbourhood. 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, Italian architecture books and by famous Renaissance artists and architects such as Michelangelo and Giulio Romano. Rubens also published a book about architecture himself. His aim was to provide readers with modern examples, much like the examples of good architecture he saw in Italy.
A palazzo on the Scheldt
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. Today Rubens's "palazzo on the Scheldt" is one of the most famous artist's residences in the world.
"Palazzo Rubens. The master as architect" exhibits fifty loans from major international museums. Many of these artworks have never been displayed to the public before. Besides works by Michelangelo, Giulio Romano, Van Dyck and Jordaens, the Rubens House also presents valuable architecture books from Rubens's own library and architecture-related paintings by the master himself.