Detail View: History of Textiles and Clothing:

Helen Fourment with a carriage
Rubens, Peter Paul, Sir, 1577-1640
ca. 1639
Rubens's young second wife, leaving her palatial home in Antwerp, appears together with her son Frans, who was born in 1633. She is dressed in black, in the opulent Spanish style, and wears a hat in the pom-pom fashion then current in Germany and the Low Countries. The two-horsed carriage is symbolic of conjugal harmony, and the gesture of the right hand suggests modesty. This is probably the last known portrait of Helene by Rubens, done in a sumptuous and lively baroque manner. Rubens depicts his second wife, the young and beautiful Helene Fourment, whom he married in 1630. Behind her is their little boy Frans, born in 1633, dressed in a red suit with a flat white collar. He looks about six or seven years old, which makes it possible to date the composition to circa 1639. The magnificence of the portrait is embodied in the sumptuousness of Helene's attire. She is dressed in the Spanish style in a long black satin gown and a small headdress with pom-poms attached to a large veil of black gauze. Rubens handles the different materials with ease, painting them in very fluid monochrome blacks which form a precious contrast with the young woman's ivory skin. He sets off this dark attire with the brilliant white satin of the puffed sleeves, themselves accentuated with gold braid. Then he enlivens the whole with delicate touches of color: the pink on the cheekbones and the fleshy mouth, the mauve of the sleeve ribbons (echoed in the belt). Details such as the pearls of the necklace, the jewel at her breast, and the braiding are painted with a thick impasto which reinforces the picture's illusionist aspect.
Fashion in art ;Clothing and dress ;Fashion -- History
Fashion in art
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Architecture Visual Resources Collection
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