Rubens never cut engravings himself. However, he did experiment with the possibilities of etching. There are three etchings that can be ascribed to him, but for further finishing with the burin he called in the assistance of Paulus Pontius. This etching may be based on a small painting by Rubens from 1616 that stayed in his collection to the end of his life. The Roman writer Pliny wrote that artists who could depict candle light or torch light were highly respected. He described a work depicting a boy blowing into the fire, in which the reflection of the light is rendered strikingly. It is this scene that Rubens interpreted. The first version of this etching was completely created by Rubens; there is a copy of it in The British Museum in London (England), but the end result as we see it here came about in cooperation with Paulus Pontius. The fact that Rubens himself acted as publisher of this print shows the great importance he attached to this etching.
Old woman and a boy with candles
1621 – 1633
208 mm x 251 mm
CC BY (Creative Commons 4.0)