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Peter Paul Rubens Drawings


Because Rubens worked with so many other painters and apprentices in his studio, it is hard to know exactly which paintings he did the most work on. However, Rubens’ drawings differ in that they were all done by Rubens himself. Rubens did his drawings mainly as studies for the much larger paintings, altar pieces, sculptures and other works he was commissioned to do. For example, the drawing shown to the right is of Rubens St. George and the Dragon which was later made into the painting by the same name.

His drawings also functioned as plans and instructions for his studio apprentices to follow when collaborating on the artwork. Besides, those who worked in his studio, Rubens did not show his drawings to others. His drawings were thought of as a studio secret and were therefore never shown outside of the studio.1 As a result, few of Rubens’ drawings are signed or dated.

Rubens’ drawings were created using several different mediums including chalk, pen and ink, charcoal and oil sketches. For his chalk drawings he often used red chalk known as sanguine and highlighted them with a white chalk; sometimes he also added color with various pigments.2

Many of Rubens drawings including landscapes, sketches of nudes and most famously his portraits have been preserved and can be seen in museums today. The largest collection can be found at the Albertina in Vienna.