The Portrait of Clara Serena Rubens, painted c. 1616, is one of the most touching child portraits in the history of European art. It shows Rubens’s five-year-old daughter from his marriage to Isabella Brant. Her resemblance to her mother is clear. The disarming directness with which the child looks at the viewer is not typical of contemporary portrait painting, but expresses the intimate relationship between father and daughter. Rubens uses colour with great skill to capture her face. The warm colouring of the flesh tones makes a particular impact against the grey-green ground and the child’s clothing. The strong red of the cheeks and the highlights on her nose and forehead convey an impression of intense life. The painting is trimmed on all four sides, and looks incomplete at first because the clothing is hastily painted. Detailed work on these parts, however, cannot have been his intention as the portrait was probably destined for private use and not for sale. Rubens obviously concentrated on the key aspect of the portrayal, his daughter’s face.
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Peter Paul Rubens
Portrait of Clara Serena Rubens, c. 1616
Oil on canvas, mounted on panel
height 37 cm, width 27 cm
Inv.-No. GE105
Provenance: 1639 presumably in the estate of Jan Brant, Rubens’s father-in-law; 1656 in the possession of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria; estate inventory of Prince Johann Adam Andreas I von Liechtenstein in 1712; 1733 identified by seal as entail
Further works on display
Decius Mus relating his dream, 1616/1617
Decius Mus preparing for Death, 1616/1617
The Death of Decius Mus, 1616/1617
The Obsequies of Decius Mus, 1616/1617
The Dismissal of the Lictors, 1616/1617
The Interpretation of the Victim, 1616/1617
The Trophy, 1616/1617
The Assumption of the Virgin, c. 1637
Venus in Front of the Mirror, 1614/1615
Oil sketch of Mars and Rhea Silvia, c. 1616/1617
Mars und Rhea Silvia, c. 1616/1617
The Discovery of the Infant Erichthonius, c. 1616
Satyr and Maid with Fruit Basket, 1615
The Lamentation, c. 1612
Christ Triumphant over Sin and Death, 1615/1622
Double Portrait of Albert and Nikolaus Rubens, c. 1626/1627
Portrait of Jan Vermoelen, 1616
Henry IV seizes the Opportunity to conclude Piece, 1628
The Victory of Henry IV at Coutras, 1628
The Consecration of Decius Mus, 1616/1617
The Obsequies of Decius Mus
Three Music-Making Angels, on the reverse side of St Joachim, 1615/1620
St. Catherine in the Clouds, 1620/1621
Four Music-Making Angels, on the reverse side of St Anne, 1615/1620
Apollo in the Chariot of the Sun, 1621/1625
The Conversion of St. Paul, 1601/1602
Perseus and Andromeda
The Virgin adorned with flowers, 1609/1610
Psyche taken up into Olympus, 1621
Landscape with Milkmaids and Cows, 1616
Allegory of war, 1628
The Hunt of Meleager and Atalanta, 1628 (?)
The Assumption of the Virgin, modello, 1637
Ganymede, 1611/1612
Diana´s Hunt, 1628
St. Francis of Assisi before the Crucified Christ, 1625
Portrait of a Monk (?)
Adoration of the Magi, 1609/1610
The Visitation, 1611/1612
Portrait of Nicolaas Rockox, 1615
Samson and Delilah, c. 1610
Related themes
Rubens in Wien
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