Originally planned as a three-quarter length portrait, the dimensions of this picture of Rubens’s second wife were increased to its present monumental format during the painting process itself. Despite its representative effect Rubens reduced the overall impression of formal grandeur. Although his wife is seated on a chair he depicts it at a slight tilt. In this way, he introduced a spontaneous and refreshing note that matched her youthful age. At the time of their wedding on 6 December, 1630, Helene Fourment was just sixteen years old and, as such, thirty-seven years younger than Rubens.