Peter Paul Rubens


The Rubens project studies all collection objects by or attributed to Peter Paul Rubens.

The museum holds not only an extensive collection of approximately seven hundred engravings and etchings after Rubens (ca. 700), but also around thirty paintings and oil sketches by the Master himself. Until recently, KMSKA's Rubens research consisted primarily in iconographic and iconological case studies alongside restoration-related research activities. In 2007, with the financial support of the Getty Foundation (Los Angeles), the museum launched its more encompassing Rubens project. Under this programme, the Collection Research Department and the Collection Management Department are subjecting KMSKA's prominent Rubens subcollection to systematic and comprehensive study.

New Methods

The programme encompasses two types of research: archival studies on the origin, provenance and restoration history of the paintings and revolutionary photographic and material-technical research into the creative process underlying the production of the works and the painterly techniques applied by Rubens and his assistants. The latter line of research includes digital (infrared) macro photography, false-colour infrared and UV photography, and raking light images. The material-technical research component includes studies of the support, X-ray analysis, pigment analysis by means of a Portable X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer, and RAMAN spectrometric analysis of paint samples.


The results serve various purposes. All the art-historical and material-technical findings are collated in painting-specific research files that are accessible to fellow scholars. The Rubens image database makes high-resolution digital recordings available for further research. Interim research results are made available to the public through periodic presentations and publications under the Rubens Revealed project. More specialised information is made available in the online Rubensbulletin, the museum's digital publication devoted to the scientific findings of the Rubens project. Experts are also directly involved in the project through the Rubens Study Days. The ultimate objective of the project is the publication of a new Rubens subcatalogue.

Download the list of publications on this topic by museum staff (PDF, 71,5 kB).


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