OIL PAINTING: Saint Gregorie, 1608
His reputation established, Rubens returned to Antwerp in 1608 following the death of his mother and quickly became the dominant artistic figure in the Spanish Netherlands. In the mature phase of his career, Rubens either executed personally or supervised the execution of an enormous body of oil paintings that spanned all areas of painting and drawing. A devout Roman Catholic, Rubens imbued his many religious paintings with the emotional tenor of the Counter-Reformation. This aggressively religious stance, along with his deep involvement in public affairs, lent Rubens's work a conservative and public cast that contrasts sharply with the more private and secular paintings of his great Dutch contemporary, Rembrandt. But if his roots lay in Italian classical art and in Roman Catholic dogma, Rubens avoided sterile repetition of academic forms by injecting into his paintings a lusty exuberance and almost frenetic energy -''Saint Gregorie''.