Well-heeled property investors have a rare opportunity to walk in the footsteps of one of history’s great artists. Elewijt Castle, the former home of Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens, is now up for sale, with an asking price of $4.9 million.
The 20-acre property, located about 15 miles south of Antwerp, Belgium, began as a wooden lookout tower on an artificial hill in the 11th century. The stone castle was built round 1300 and periodically served a military function in following centuries, including its use as a Spanish garrison in the 1500s.
In his lifetime, Rubens was regarded a Flemish Baroque master and had amassed a significant fortune from commissions in France, Italy, Spain and his native country. Four years after the death of his wife, Isabella Brant, in 1626, he married her niece — 16-year-old Helena Fourment — and purchased the property as their new home.
The castle was in a state of disrepair, and Rubens had it refurbished and lived at the estate during the final five years of his life.
He executed a number of paintings from its grounds, including landscapes and portraits of voluptuous women for which he is widely renowned. Fourment served as a model for several of these late works. Rubens died of heart failure in May of 1640 at the age of 62.
In the late 18th century, the castle served as a prison before again returning to private hands. It now contains 33 rooms in all, including six bedrooms, a private chapel and a garage (obviously a more recent addition) that houses up to four vehicles. A moat surrounds the structure on three sides.
The property is now widely referred to as Het Rubenskasteel (Rubens’ Castle). It is being listed by Mechelen, Belgium-based real estate agency Engel & Völkers.