Rubens returned to Antwerp in 1608 after an eight-year stay in Italy. The following year he married Isabella Brant. This portrait was probably painted to mark this occasion. Both its representative format and the exquisite robes chosen served as a means of nobilitation. Through its allusions to Antiquity and the humanist tradition it also points to Rubens’s self-image as an artist. Honeysuckle is also commonly known as “the longer the better” and symbolises love’s durability.