Plantin was already dead when Rubens made his portrait. It dates from 1616, and Plantin died in 1589. For this portrait, Rubens used an existing work that was created in Leiden during Plantin’s life. It too is part of the museum collection.
Compasses and books
It is obvious why Plantin holds a book in his portrait. The compasses were part of the business logo, together with the Latin motto Labore et Constantia (‘Through work and constancy’). Moreover, Plantin’s business was called ‘The Golden Compasses’.
This portrait belongs to the first series of twelve portraits that Balthasar I Moretus commissioned from Rubens.