Portraits of Archduke Albrecht and Archduchess (c 1616-17). Artist: Peter Paul Rubens

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    Portraits of Archduke Albrecht and Archduchess (c 1616-17). Artist: Peter Paul Rubens
    In around 1616-17, Archduke Albert and the Archduchess Isabella, the Spanish Habsburg governors of the Southern Netherlands, commissioned Rubens and Brueghel to jointly paint their portraits. Rubens painted the figures of Albert and Isabella while Brueghel executed the landscapes. The landscape behind Albert depicts the ducal castle in Tervuren (present-day Belgium) and that behind Isabella shows the royal couple's country retreat at Mariemont. Both Rubens and Brueghel served as court painters to Albert and Isabella. Of course, Rubens, who was highly esteemed as a portraitist, could easily have executed the entire portrait on his own. The fact that the royal couple specifically wanted the portraits to be a joint venture by both artists demonstrates the special value attached to such collaborative works. Indeed, such high-level patronage in turn played a role in further enhancing the prestige of such works.