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The creative power and well-nigh inexhaustible vitality of Peter Paul Rubens are qualities clearly revealed in his art. Here for the first time in English we have available all 250 extant letters from the pen of this master-diplomat. The letters (only one-fourth of which have appeared previously in English) provide a rich and varied record of Rubens’ prodigious activity as a scholar and antiquarian, as a collector, as a painter, and as a diplomat—revealing him as a man of the world in the broadest sense, and a remarkably articulate one.
For the most part the original letters were written in Italian, a language which Rubens particularly liked. Among the recipients were many outstanding personages of seventeenth-century Europe: the Archduchess Isabella, ruler of the Spanish Netherlands; the Marquis Spinola, Spain’s military expert; the powerful Count Duke Olivares; the wily Duke of Buckingham; the renowned French scholar-collector, Peiresc.
The letters of Rubens sparkle with vitality and freshness in much the same way his magnificent Baroque canvases do. They reveal a man of amiable disposition and generous nature, with an extraordinary ability to get along with others—of whatever rank or station—and they also reveal the very important role played by Rubens in world diplomacy during the Thirty Years’ War.