Hélène Fourment in a Fur Robe

Peter Paul Rubens, 1636—1638

Hélène Fourment in a Fur Robe, 1638 — Peter Paul Rubens,

Peter Paul Rubens was 53 years old. He was rich, successful, and lonely. His first wife, Isabella Brandt, had died 5 years earlier — but in 1630, a young woman named Hélène Fourment caught Rubens eye. She was sixteen, and the full-figured picture of everything Rubens loved in a woman — she also happened to be the niece of Rubens first wife Isabella. We can only hope that a 37 year gap and familial ties were less concerning in the 17th century, but Rubens didn't let that slow him down. He married Hélène, moved to a country house, and had five children with her as fast as he could. 

Rubens would paint Hélène in many paintings, often as the goddess Venus — a man truly smitten. 

Submitted by Reed Enger

More artwork from Peter Paul Rubens

A great painter — but a perfect entrepreneur.

More work by Peter Paul Rubens

The drama of deep color and shadow

More about Baroque