At 23, Rubens left his home in Flanders (now part of Belgium) for Italy to study the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Titian. The Duke of Mantua was so impressed with the young man's talent and invited him to be his painter.
And when the duke discovered Rubens' refined manners and language skills, he made the painter an ambassador to the King of Spain. Later, Rubens negotiated a peace treaty between England and Spain.
When his mother died, he returned home from Spain and settled in a magnificent mansion in Antwerp, which was furnished with antiques and statues.
Rubens loved huge, decorative, energetic paintings. That is, the more the better.
One of his most famous works, The Descent from the Cross (1611-1614), depicts the removal of the dead Jesus from the cross.
Although his paintings were large, he painted many of them. Approximately 2, 000 paintings were assigned to his studio. One of the reasons he was able to produce so many canvases is because he hired numerous assistants who were talented in painting animals or setting up secondary landscapes. Although hiring assistants was not prohibited, the size of Rubens' studio led some critics to accuse him of running a painting factory.