The Rubenshuis demonstrates a part of the workshop practice in Rubens’ studio with tho versions of the same portrait.
Many works by Rubens are known by more then one version. It is not always clear what was exactly his own share in the paintings and what can be attributed to his workshop. Which paintings is original and what is the copy? Often it is even not easy to ascertain which version was made first. This is also true in the case of portraits.
There was a high demand for images of important persons. Copying portraits therefore was part of the regular workshop practices. The Portrait of Michiel van Ophoven (or Latinized: Ophovius) is known through several examples. Two, the best of them, are compared and exhibited together for the first time in the Rubenshuis. They are from the collections of the Mauritshuis in The Hague and the Rubenshuis.
The confrontation between the two portraits gives insight into 17th-century ideas of “original” and “copy”. These ideas are significantly different then more modern connotations, fueled by the quick copy/paste culture.