Rubens 2004

A love of books: Rubens and his library

Like his art collection, Rubens’ library reflected his personality. He read artists’ biographies and studied atlases, books on language and the fledgling science of archaeology, preferably in Latin. Rubens’ library was one of the largest in Antwerp. The selection shown in Rubens 2004 had never previously been exhibited.

Mirror of the personality

Like his art collection, Rubens’ library reflected his personality. He read artists’ biographies and studied atlases, books on language and the fledgling science of archaeology, preferably in Latin. Rubens’ library was one of the largest in Antwerp and the Southern Netherlands. The selection shown in the exhibition had never previously been on display.
 

An exceptional book collection

Rubens’ collection far exceeded those of contemporary artists such as Velazquez or Rembrandt. Rubens was a family friend and working partner to the printer Balthasar I Moretus. He was therefore close to the source of many of the publications in the library. After Rubens’ death in 1640, his library was bequeathed to his son Albert. After his death, the library, together with the books acquired by Albert, was auctioned off in Brussels in 1658. As a result, the collection was not preserved intact.
 

Reconstruction

The Antwerp librarian Prosper Arents (1889-1984) collected material for decades to reconstruct the ‘Rubens Library’. His research was made ready for publication by a working group of the Association of Antwerp Bibliophiles and published as a double edition of its yearbook, De Gulden Passer (2000-2001).
 
09.03.2004 – 13.06.2004
 

Museum Plantin-Moretus
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