The notebook is one of the four known copies of Rubens's manuscript. This was lost in 1720 in a spectacular fire in the Louvre.
The "De Ganay" manuscript
The so-called "De Ganay manuscript" dates from the seventeenth century. It was probably copied by someone who knew Rubens intimately a few years after his death. The notebook shows that Rubens, in addition to being a great and inspired artist, was also an extraordinary and intriguing theorist.
The notebook expounds on Rubens's ideas about perspective, anatomy, proportions and symmetry. Rubens also conducted a study of the human passions, comparing literature with painting.
Rubens’s theoretical notebook was included in the recent part (2013) of the Corpus Rubenianum, a catalogue in several parts about Rubens's body of work. The authors are Professor Arnout Balis (VUB) and Dr David Jaffé (curator of the National Gallery in London).