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July 5–September 24, 2006 at the Getty Center
Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder were the most eminent painters in Antwerp, in present-day Belgium, during the first two decades of the 17th century. While it was common practice in the Netherlands around 1600 for two or more artists to contribute to a single composition, Rubens and Brueghel's partnership was extraordinary.
This exhibition presents more than a dozen collaborative paintings by Rubens and Brueghel. It is the largest group of their joint works ever seen together, and considers how these two great artists worked in concert. The results of recent technical analysis provide new insight into their collaborative working method.
Both painters served the Brussels court of the joint Habsburg regents of the Southern Netherlands, Archduke Albert and Archduchess Isabella. Fond friends, both in and out of the studio, Rubens and Brueghel accommodated each other's preferences and modified each other's contributions. While it has often been assumed that Rubens was the dominant partner, in fact it was Brueghel, senior by nine years, who often took the lead.
The two artists had distinctive individual styles. Brueghel was a renowned still-life and landscape specialist known for highly detailed works, while Rubens created large-scale history paintings. Brought together in the same painting, these individual styles result in highly inventive compositions. The rich context for joint productions in Antwerp is represented in the exhibition by Rubens and Brueghel's collaborative works with important contemporaries.
Rubens and Brueghel: A Working Friendship has been organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague.