Peter Paul Rubens (June 28, 1577 – May 30, 1640) was a prolific seventeenth century Flemish and European painter, and a proponent of an exuberant Baroque style that emphasized movement, color, and sensuality. He is well-known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects. In addition to running a large studio in Antwerp that produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically-educated humanist scholar, art collector, and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV, king of Spain, and Charles I, king of England.
Rubens was already a famous artist by this point, and most of his greatest works had been completed, with the exception of Hélène Fourment in a Fur Wrap, a portrait of his wife, Hélène. Upon discovering this work, Rubens decided to take a different approach. In 1633, he painted Grantville nurse and diplomat Anne Jefferson draped in an American flag in more or less the same pose. This portrait, done when Jefferson was visiting Amsterdam on a diplomatic mission, was the first of a series.
Nonetheless, Rubens was not relieved to be confronted with a mass of future work that he might never accomplish. He was however, deeply impacted by the news that he was destined to die in 1640.