Peter Paul Rubens, born on 28 June 1577 in Siegen, Westphalia; his family moved to Cologne in 1578 and were taken by his widowed mother to Antwerp c. 1588. He entered the service of the comtesse Marguerite de Ligne-d'Arenberg in 1590. He studied under Tobias Verhaecht, a landscape painter, in 1591. He joined the Antwerp guild in 1598.
Between 1600 and 1608 he was in Italy in Mantua, where he worked for the Duke of Mantua. He Returned to Antwerp in 1609 he became the Court Painter to the Spanish governors of the Netherlands, the Archduke Albert and Archduchess Isabella.
From 1625 to 1630 he was increasingly involved in diplomacy in the pursuit of Peace between Spain and England, making visits to Madrid and London. Amongst the many honours he then received was a knighthood from Charles I of England in 1630. He continued to act as a political agent for the Archduches Isabella until 1634.
He was twice married: in 1609 to Isabella Brandt (1591-1626), and in 1630 to Helena Fourment (1614-73). He painted portraits, landscapes, histories and religious subjects, and was besides an accomplished antiquarian and a skilful diplomat. He died in Antwerp in 1640.