Parthagica Directory 02
Well-born, ennobled by royalty, successful in both court and studio, Rubens lived brilliantly and his life was a series of triumphs. He painted enormous canvases, and the number of pictures, altar-pieces, mythological decorations, landscapes, portraits scattered throughout the galleries of Europe, and attributed to him, is simply amazing. He was undoubtedly helped in many of his canvases by his pupils, but the works painted by his own hand make a world of art in themselves. He was the greatest painter of the North, a full-rounded, complete genius, comparable to Titian in his universality. His precursors and masters, Van Noort (1562-1641) and Vaenius (1558-1629), gave no strong indication of the greatness of Ruben's art, and his many pupils, though echoing his methods, never rose to his height in mental or artistic grasp.
He met, however, with very partial success. His soldiers became entangled in bogs and morasses; they fell into ambuscades; they suffered every degree of privation and hardship for want of water and of food, and were continually entrapped by their enemies in situations where they had to fight in small numbers and at a great disadvantage. Then, too, the aged and feeble general was kept in a continual fever of anxiety and trouble by Bassianus, the son whom he had brought with him to the north. The dissoluteness and violence of his character were not changed by the change of scene. He formed plots and conspiracies against his father's authority; he raised mutinies in the army; he headed riots; and he was finally detected in a plan for actually assassinating his father. Severus, when he discovered this last enormity of wickedness, sent for his son to come to his imperial tent. He laid a naked sword before him, and then, after bitterly reproaching him with his undutiful and ungrateful conduct, he said, "If you wish to kill me, do it now. Here I stand, old, infirm, and helpless. You are young and strong, and can do it easily. I am ready. Strike the blow."