Sir Peter Paul Rubens (and possibly Jacob Jordaens)|
Sir Peter Paul Rubens (painter)
Flemish, 1577 - 1640
Jacob Jordaens (painter)
Flemish, 1593 - 1678
Deborah Kip, Wife of Sir Balthasar Gerbier, and Her Children, 1629/1630, reworked probably mid 1640s
oil on canvas
overall: 165.8 x 177.8 cm (65 1/4 x 70 in.) framed: 200.34 x 211.14 x 14.61 cm (78 7/8 x 83 1/8 x 5 3/4 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Fund
Object 8 of 8
As she embraces a squirming baby, this mother's cradling arm traces an oval that visually encompasses the faces of her children, uniting the family.
The mother is Deborah Kip, wife of Flemish art dealer and diplomat Balthasar Gerbier. Gerbier's absence from the family portrait is a bit unusual—perhaps Rubens' focus was primarily on Deborah's maternal role. In 1629, when Rubens was sent to London as an emissary of Spanish king Phillip IV he lived for several months in the Gerbier household. He may have painted this portrait in gratitude for their hospitality or as a keepsake out of affection for the family. It is also possible that he intended to use it as a model for other compositions. The three older children appear in an ambitious political allegory Rubens presented to English king Charles I in 1630. When Rubens returned to Antwerp he took the still unfinished portrait of the Gerbier family with him. It was probably completed by one of his workshop assistants—possibly Jacob Jordaens—after Rubens' death.
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