Rus Articles Journal

Rubens. “Portrait of the infanta Isabella“. Background or shine?

Isabella Clara Evgenia, the daughter of the Spanish king Philip the Second was born in 1566. In those days the Spanish crown owned enormous territories in Europe and America. Philip received this crown from the father - the emperor of the Sacred Roman Empire Karl the Fifth.

The European governors were at war, trying to redistribute everything and (whenever possible) to appropriate neighbour`s lands. Besides, also churchmen began to be at war among themselves.

In 1517 Martin Luther, the Catholic, professor of theology, the inspector of 11 monasteries, the church preacher, opposed indulgences (the diplomas about absolution sold in cathedrals) which were entered by the Pope of Lev H. Martin Luther excommunicate, he burns the papal bull (message). It was the beginning of the Reformation. Behind Lutheranism the Calvinism, Anabaptism, Anglicanism appeared...

The Catholic church called all this “heresies“ and pursued in the most cruel way. Inquisition was the instrument of this prosecution. Charles V was the Catholic therefore in territories subject to it inquisition raged with might and main. And the power in the same time smothered all taxes (money was necessary to continue wars).

In Charles de Coster`s novel “A legend of Til Ulenshpigel“ the local foolish Katlina tells about the dream:

“Two babies arose: one - in Spain, infantas Philip, and another -
in Flanders, Klaas`s son, to it will be nicknamed then Ulenshpigel, Philip
will become the executioner therefore it - Karl the Fifth spawn, and Karl the Fifth - our
native land the blighter.

Ulenshpigel will leave the great joker and the great prankish, but he will have a kind because he is Klaas`s son heart, and Klaas, the toiler nice and serviceable, honest, honest, just work gets the bread. The emperor Karl and the king Philip will fly on life, annoying all wars, requisitions and other crimes“.

Here one more fragment from this novel:

“One morning Sootkin paid attention that Klaas thoughtfully and dejectedly
goes up and down on kitchen.

- What, the hubby, became dejected? - she asked. - You are pale, gloomy and
is disseminated.

Klaas began to roar as a dog:

- Are going to restore furious royal decrees. Again the death
will go for a walk on the Flanders earth. Informers will begin to receive a half
of property of the victims in case its cost does not exceed hundred

- We are with you people poor, - Sootkin noticed.

- For earphones insufficiently poor, - Klaas objected. - Angry kites and
of a crow that eat carrion, and on us with you will inform: they also will not disdain the
basket of coal and will divide it with the sovereign not less willingly, than a bag with
florins. What such wealth unfortunate Tanneken, the widow
of the tailor Sis who in Heysta alive was dug to the earth had? The Latin Bible,
three gold yes, which - what utensils from the English tin which
her neigbour coveted. To Ioann Marten burned as the witch, but only at first threw
into water, and it did not sink, well, means - the sorcerer. It had a shabby
rukhlyadishka yes seven gold - the informer was flattered on a half. Ý - eh! You will not retell in total
. In a word, the wife, give - in good time from here a podobra - a pozdorova
- after these decrees absolutely life in Flanders will not become. Soon every night
will go in the chariot on the city death, and we will hear dry knock of her

of War, inquisition, contentions between small and large princelings, national discontent - and the huge state. Charles V carefully trained the son for management of inheritance, and Philip received not absolutely usual education. As historians, for it write, the seven-year-old boy, the father collected - neither more nor less - 50 peers from noble families.

The careful father himself selected for him teachers and tutors. Training was based on Erasmus Rotterdamsky`s book “Education of Christian princes“ published in 1516 (in Russia this book appeared in Mysl publishing house in 2001 under the name “Education of the Christian Sovereign“).

Outstanding teachers imparted to the pupil love to reading: for the life it collected 14 000 volumes.

In 32 years he became a king. It is impossible to tell that Philip was an incapable pupil, but his board led to a decline of Spain. And to hold extensive possession it was difficult. Among territories subject to it there were Netherlands, one of the most “sick“ places of the empire.

In 1596 Philip appointed the governor of the Netherlands the nephew Albert who in 1599 - at that time he was 40 years old - married on 33 - summer Isabella (Albert from 11 years was at court of Philip, that is the groom and the bride grew up together, so to speak, in one yard). They were affianced in two years prior to a wedding, and got married after Philip`s death and after seven months of mourning.

Philip in the last three years of his life was tormented by gout and fever. Isabella looked after the sick father. And not only. According to historians, “he (Philip) called the daughter by a consolation of the old age and light of the eyes. She helped it under the authority of public affairs, put its papers in order, read it aloud the most important messages and translated into report Spanish from Italy“.

The earliest portraits of work of Rubens are dated 1609, all others - 1615. Spouses are written both separately, and together, in a different situation, on a different background, but persons practically repeat. It is very likely that from nature they were written only once, and the rest - author`s copies (what pisana from nature were - cannot be defined).

Life of this couple was not neither quiet, nor happy. The situation in Flanders was intense, three children died babies (more children were not). Faces of spouses absolutely sad, both have some devastated look.

It would seem, Rubens could write portraits with bigger sympathy: both patronized it, both appreciated its diplomatic abilities, both promoted obtaining noble privileges by Rubens, he was their court painter. But something did not allow the artist to make the benefactors happier, than they were actually.

Albert died in 1621. Isabella continued to operate the Netherlands. After death of the husband she did not put on a secular dress, wore monastic clothes. In such look Rubens in 1625 depicted her. The portrait is absolutely not ceremonial. It is possible to assume that the artist wanted to depict the benefactor and asked it to pose.

And in this portrait, apparently, dramatic and even severe, other Isabella is presented to the viewer: it lit eyes! The infanta smiles! It is impossible to tell that a smile very cheerful more likely it ironic or skeptical, but, at least, from a portrait looks the living person.

Why so? Why on early portraits nothing similar was? The infanta was very beautiful in youth. It is almost improbable that its beauty by the time of when it was learned by Rubens, faded to zero. What induced Rubens “to muffle tone“?

This portrait has one more feature: the contour of the head is emphasized by white. On other portraits the background was another.

On icons represent a luminescence around the heads in the form of a circle. Rubens could not draw it in such look (all - - not sacred), but the shining background as if brings closer it to Saints.

The infanta Isabella Clara Evgenia, a shtatgalter of the Netherlands, is buried near the husband archduke Albert in a Catholic cathedral of St. Mikhail in Brussels.