Peter Paul Rubens: Helena Fourment
Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640)
Black, red, and white chalk (retouched with pen and brown ink in some details of the head and headdress)
Samuel Courtauld Trust: Princes Gate Bequest, 1978
Having been a widower for four years, Rubens married Helena Fourment, the sixteen-year-old daughter of an Antwerp silk merchant, in December 1630. This portrait of Rubens's new bride presents Helena near life size in splendid attire, holding what appears to be a prayer book. She is shown lifting or catching her veil, which would have been suspended from the top of her striking headdress, to address the viewer with an unwavering gaze.