Brueghel & Rubens

Jan Brueghel II and Peter Paul Rubens, 'Christ in the House of Martha and Mary', c.1628

Jan Brueghel the Younger (1601-1678) and Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary , c.1628

Oil on oak panel, 64 x 61.9 cm
Bequeathed, Sir Henry Page Turner Barron, 1901
NGI.513

This picture has long been recognised as a collaborative effort between Jan Brueghel II, who painted the landscape and still-life, and Rubens, to whom the figures are attributed. Rubens had painted the figures in several works for Jan Brueghel I, and it is understandable that he would have done the same for Brueghel's son when he took over the family workshop after his father's death in 1625.

The subject of Christ in the House of Martha and Mary was traditionally an interior scene. The move here to an outdoor terrace changes the emphasis - the landscaped grounds of an aristocratic villa lend a peaceful note to the foreground activity. In the distance on the right is the Château de Mariemont, the summer residence of the Spanish regents Albert and Isabella Both Rubens and Brueghel I were court painters to the regents, and it is possible that the picture was intended for an aristocratic patron.

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