This document is an exceptional testimony that provides us with a better understanding of the great master of Flemish Baroque. Apart from his talents as an artist, Rubens could also pride himself on being an eminent theorist. It was thus not surprising that his notebook was passed from hand to hand, across successive generations, and that by the 18th century it was to be found in the workshop of the famous cabinetmaker André-Charles Boulle.
The information contained in the notebook provided an invaluable basis for the work of any high quality workshop. Artists too wished to have a copy of the notebook and so the compendium was copied several times. The de Ganay album was made during the 17th century, just a few years after the death of Rubens. The very great care with which this particular copy was made lead us to think that it was probably destined to be printed.
The four known copies of Rubens’ notebook remained for many years in the intimacy of private collections. Thanks to the King Baudouin’s Heritage Fund, one of these copies has now been brought back to Belgium and is available for everyone to see at the Rubens House in Antwerp. The page on show will be regularly changed.