The Art of Lingerie: Rubens

I chose Dutch artist Peter Paul Rubens for my ‘Art of Lingerie’ series because of his love of portraying extravagance, prosperity and voluptuousness. This 16th-century painter was immensely popular, using a workshop to complete the enormous commissions from royalty throughout Europe and dying a wealthy man (an anomaly among artists!).

Women in Rubens’ paintings do not necessarily wear a lot of clothing, and certainly not lingerie. But I thought Rubens was a rich subject for an ‘Art of Lingerie’ post because of the Baroque abundance that characterizes his lush depictions of clothing, food, animals and people.

“The Judgment of Paris” (c.1639)

Rubens Lingerie 1

Fleur of England – Christine Lingerie – Felice Art Couture

Fleur of England – Snow Queen Silk Georgette Boudoir Gown, $364 (on sale from $748)

Christine Lingerie – Scarlet Glamour Gown $119 (on sale from $275)

Felice Art Couture – Coral Shine Sheer  €313.13

Rubens doesn’t focus on clothing details or styles in the same way that artists like Vermeer or Holbein do, but the sweeping billowing cloth and the richness of the fabric makes makes it easy to match to similarly luxuriant garments. These three gowns from Fleur of England, Christine Lingerie and Felice Art Couture capture the majesty, luxury and simplicity of the mythological figures depicted in Rubens’ ‘Judgment of Paris.’ Like the light wraps of the three goddesses in the painting, these beautiful gowns cascade around the body, gently corresponding to it’s contours and allowing a shrouded glimpse of the flesh underneath.

“Diana Presenting the Catch to Pan” (1615)

Rubens Lingerie 2

Chantelle – La Lilouche – Ayten Gasson

Chantelle – Palais Royale Sheer Underwire Demi Bra, $88

La Lilouche – Della Silk Maxi Gown, $188

Ayten Gasson – Carla Silk Kimono in Liberty Print, £106

I chose these three pieces because of the wealth of the detail and the representations of the bounty of nature. In the painting, Diana holds her catch, while Pan holds fruits and vegetables, both of their arms so full that their arms are overflowing. Both the Chantelle bra and the Ayten Gasson silk bed jacket have a floral element, reminiscent of the fruit and flowers of the nature gods in painting. The La Lilouche gown resembles the crimson robe that Diana drapes around herself in the painting, with a grand and classical shape.

Rubens Venus at a Mirror

“Venus at a Mirror” (c.1615)

Naked Princess - Carine Gilson - Zinke

Naked Princess – Carine Gilson – Zinke

Naked Princess – Thousand Kisses Deep Chantilly Robe, $325

Carine Gilson – Decoupe Matte Satin and Dentelle Long Kimono, $2,398

Zinke – Florence Babydoll, $143

The image of the nude goddess in the mirror lends itself to a selection of delicate nightgowns. In the painting, the goddess is practically naked, but you can see a sheer, white garment beneath the seat. I chose the Naked Princess and Zinke babydolls because of their lightness and their resemblance to the wrap in the image. The Carine Gilson robe is more substantial than the other two pieces and less like the one in the image, but it also has the luxurious boudoir feeling that the painting evokes.

If you liked this piece, check out the rest of my ‘Art of Lingerie’ series. Who should I do next?

  1. I love your blog and the beautiful lingerie that you review. But I am curious to find out why an article based upon Rubens whose models are a clearly at least a size 16-22 you show lingerie models that are clearly size 0-2? Clearly Rubens models were at the height of beauty in his day. It would have been lovely had you chosen lingerie based that would have fit HIS ideals not modern day.

    • Hi! I wanted to focus on the lingerie, not the models. Although many of these pieces go up to a size XL (or above), they show it on standard size models, something I have no control over. Although I looked for appropriate lingerie for plus size women, it’s unfortunately very hard to find the type of pieces that I wanted to showcase here. I certainly didn’t want to suggest that his models weren’t very beautiful, it was just difficult to find appropriate pieces on larger models, as most lingerie for plus size women is very 50s in look and feel, which is certainly not what I wanted to show here.

  2. Thank you for yet another great addition to “The Art of Lingerie” series.
    The models issue, as expressed by the first commenter, has also crossed my mind and I agree with you that the art-lingerie message you’re conveying here is the most important one.

    Speaking of art and lingerie, last week I stopped by at Nancy Meyer whose website is where you got the picture of the Carine Gilson robe, the one that goes with the “Venus at a Mirror” Rubens’ piece in this post.
    Despite the small space they occupy in downtown Seattle they still put aside all the Carine Gilson pieces as well as some other super-exquisite lingerie on a special rack in the corner with a sign that says, “Please don’t touch, ask for assistance”. One certainly gets the feeling of being in a fine art museum when entering the place.
    And one of the walls has a big display of gorgeous silk bras that sell for over $400. Unfortunately- or maybe it is fortunate- the sizes only go up to 36C.

  3. Rubens was a wealthy man and part of it was to do with the Spain. Titan, Duke of Mantua, asked Rubens to be his court painter. Titan was so impressed by Rubens not only for his painting but his manners and know-how that he made Rubens ambassador to the King of Spain. Later on, Rubens negotiated a peace treaty between England and Spain and was given titles of nobility from both countries. Interesting, right?

  4. Caro-
    Perhaps an in-depth investigation and history of the ancient Spice Road – somewhat crossing paths with the old Silk Road – may usher in the newer trend of cultivating the Crysalis…
    My premise is simple: All the Political leverage since Josephine Baker and Mata Hari protects that most delicate of issues, and prevailed over all “liaisons dangereuses” even when SALT IV hit the Soviet table…and when IMBRA took a seat as well…
    Such a story would pique the industry. The character and acumen of the feminine woman is vital to the ultra-sensitive delicacy of the original Silk spawn…
    You defend the tradition, trade and trend, at once, admirably. And even if the saphhic culture is a distraction for us die-hard heterosexual gents, you create the kind of appeal in the http://www.internet media which may establish visionary bridges from old-school Arts to avant-garde vogue. Then it happens, that the Reubens approach taunts one to ask: where’s the real Mannerism style (Maniera…Titian…Tintoretto… ) perspective of Lingerie magique?

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