Portrait of Christophe Plantin

Peter Paul Rubens was a family friend to Balthasar I Moretus, who commissioned portraits of the Plantin-Moretus family from the baroque painter.

Posthumous portrait

Plantin was already dead when Rubens made his portrait. It dates from 1616, and Plantin died in 1589. For this portrait, Rubens used an existing work that was created in Leiden during Plantin’s life. It too is part of the museum collection.

Compass and books

In the foreground we see Lipsius’ dog Mopsus and a table with books on it. It is obvious why Plantin holds a book in his portrait. The compass was part of the business logo, together with the Latin motto Labore et Constantia (‘Through work and constancy’). Moreover, Plantin’s business was called ‘The Golden Compass’.

This portrait belongs to the first series of twelve portraits that Balthasar I Moretus commissioned from Rubens.

Museum Plantin-Moretus
Unesco werelderfgoed