This painting celebrates family and friendship. It is a touching portrait of the family of the artist Jan Brueghel by his close friend and collaborator Peter Paul Rubens.
Brueghel’s wife, Catharina, is at the heart of this intimate group, surrounded by her children Pieter and Elisabeth. Their hands meet tenderly in the centre. Rubens added the figure of Brueghel at a late stage, painting him over the dark

The Brueghel family wear their finest clothes and are presented as wealthy citizens of Antwerp. Catharina’s gemstone bracelets must have been especially meaningful to the couple. Their son Pieter touches one of them and they also appear in several still-life paintings by Brueghel himself, including the one illustrated below. The dating of the work is based on the children’s perceived ages. They both died, along with their father, during the cholera epidemic of 1625.


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