Portrait of Archduchess Isabella Clara Eugenia, Spanish Regent of the Low Countries, as a Nun
Rubens, Peter Paul, and Workshop (Flemish, 1577-1640)
Not on View

Archduchess Isabella (1566–1633), the daughter of King Philip II of Spain, was married to Archduke Albert and alongside him ruled as sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands. After her husband died in 1621, she was made governor of the Netherlands on behalf of the King of Spain. As a ruler, Isabella entrusted Rubens, her court painter, with not only artistic projects but also sensitive diplomatic missions. Here, she is portrayed in the habit of the Sisters of St. Clare, the order she joined after Albert's death—a common practice for noble widows at the time.

The portrait projects an image of the Archduchess’s simple religious life. Standing in front of a neutral background, she wears a modest robe tied with a cord around her waist. Characteristic of Ruben’s portraits, Isabella catches the viewer’s eyes with a lifelike expression. Her engaging face is framed by a halo-like glow that subtly emphasizes the Archduchess’s piety.


  • Artist Name: Rubens, Peter Paul, and Workshop (Flemish, 1577-1640)
  • Title: Portrait of Archduchess Isabella Clara Eugenia, Spanish Regent of the Low Countries, as a Nun
  • Date: 1625
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 45-1/2 x 34-7/8 in. (115.6 x 88.6 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon
  • Accession Number: M.1966.10.10.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

[Galerie Sankt-Lucas, Vienna, 1934].
Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza (1875-1947), Schloss Rohoncz, Lugano, by 1935, by descent to his daughter;
Baroness Gabrielle Bentinck (nee Thyssen), through [Rudolf Heinemann, Pinakos], to;
[Rosenberg and Stiebel, New York, September 30, 1957, sold 1959 to];
Mr. and Mrs. Norton Simon, gift 1966 to;
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

Aus dem Besitz der Stiftung Sammlung Schloss Rohoncz

  • Castagnola (Lugano, Switzerland), 1949 to

[on loan]

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1969-04-30 to 1972-04-26

Spectacular Rubens: The Triumph of the Eucharist

  • J. Paul Getty Museum, 2014-10-14 to 2015-01-11

Rubens: A Royal Portrait Artist

  • Musée du Luxembourg, 2017-10-04 to 2018-01-14

[on loan]

  • Fullerton Library, 1967-10-20 to 1969-04-27

Six Centuries of Portraiture from the Permanent Collection

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1989-11-02 to 1990-12-16

Selections from the Norton Simon, Inc. Museum of Art

  • Princeton University Art Museum, 1972-12-03 to 1974-07-17
  • Rooses, M., L'Oeuvre de P. P. Rubens, pp. 196-197
  • Gluck, G., The Burlington Magazine, p. 175, 178
  • Scribner, Charles, III, Rubens, p. 32
  • Martin, John Rupert, Selections from the Norton Simon, Inc. Museum of Art, pp. 35-37
  • Steadman, David W., Selections from the Norton Simon, Inc. Museum of Art, no. 6 pp. 38-39
  • Art Journal, fig. 4 p. 35
  • Heinemann, R., Stiftung Sammlung Schloss Rohoncz, Lugano, 1937, no. 360
  • Aus dem Besitz der Stiftung Sammlung Schloss Rohncz: Austellung in der Villa Favorit Castagnola/Lugano; MCMIL, 1949, no. 216
  • Cohen, A.; R. Cohen, E. Young and E. Cohen, Trafalgar Galleries at the Royal Academy II, 1979, p. 13
  • Vlieghe, Hans, Rubens, Portraits of Identified Sitters Painted in Antwerp, 1987, no. 111, fig. 130 pp. 121-122
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 52
  • Dillon, E., Rubens, 1989, p. 150, 223
  • Sutton, Peter, Journal of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1989, p. 6
  • Jaffé, Michael, Catalogo Completo Rubens, 1989, no. 864 p. 296
  • Baciagalupe, Echevarria, M. A., El Arte en la Corte de los Archiduques Alberto de Austria e Isabel Clara Eugenia (1598-1633), 1999, p. 41
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 80 p. 254
  • Merle du Bourg, Alexis, L'Objet d'Art, 2017, p. 21. ; p. 20 (ill.)
  • Rubens: Portraits princiers, 2017, cat. 16 p. 108, p. 216 ; p. 110 (ill.)

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