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Lions and lizards and boars

With larger-than-life lions, lizards, a boar hunt and more, the highly anticipated exhibition Early Rubens could be your Game of Thrones fix. Get ready: it opens at the AGO this weekend!

Daniel in the Lions' Den

Peter Paul Rubens, Daniel in the Lions' Den, c. 1614/1616. Oil on canvas, 224.2 x 330.5. National Gallery of Art, Washington, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, 1965.13.1. Image courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Early Rubens is almost here! And with life-sized lions, lizards and a frenzied boar hunt, this once-in-a generation exhibition is sure to bring big drama on even bigger canvasses. In fact, if you’ve been inconsolable since the series conclusion of Game of Thrones, this could be your badly-needed fix! Exploring the work of one of the most renowned artists in Western art history, Early Rubens opens this Saturday, October 12.

A natural storyteller, Peter Paul Rubens’s (1577–1640) work is characteristic of the Baroque period – bold, opulent and luxuriously detailed. This flair for the dramatic is matched only by the ambitious scale of his work. With canvases over 10 feet wide, the exhibition features 30 immense paintings of theatrical scenes from mythology, history and the Bible.

Timed-entry tickets to see Early Rubens can be booked online at, in person and by phone at (416) 979 6608. Tickets are free for AGO Members and Annual Pass holders, and individual tickets are $25. Visitors 25 and under who are not holders of free Annual Passes may claim free tickets in person on the day of their visit, subject to availability. For more details about AGO Memberships or Annual Passes, visit

Outside of the dramatic scenes depicted in Early Rubens, the exhibition weaves the tale of a young artist returning to, and helping to rebuild, his home city of Antwerp. The exhibition’s story begins in 1609, following Rubens return home after studying art in Italy for eight years. From there, the exhibition provides a revealing look at Rubens’s early career in Antwerp building a studio, winning important commissions and making a name for himself on the international stage. More than just an artist, the story of Early Rubens shows his talents as a businessman, scholar, diplomat and city builder.

Make sure to download the Early Rubens audio guide directly to your phone to enjoy during your visit. Produced by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Legion of Honour, it includes stories about the life and times of Peter Paul Rubens as told by the exhibition co-curators. With stops at incredible paintings like The Annunciation (c. 1610) and Boar Hunt (c. 1615–17), the added commentary will help bring Rubens’s vivid works to life.

Want to learn more? Dive deeper into the life and times of 1600's Antwerp with a wide array of public programs, courses and workshops inspired by the exhibition. With live in-gallery harpsichord performances, curators’ talks, life-drawing workshops in Walker Court, a vintage film series and so much more, there’s something for everyone. Check out the full line-up and get your tickets online on the AGO events page.

AGO Members can attend exclusive Members’ Previews on October 9, 10 and 11, before the exhibition opens to the public.

To reserve your time slot to view Early Rubens, visit the website, give us a call, or speak with the front desk upon your arrival.

Admission to the AGO Collection and all special exhibitions is always free for AGO MembersAGO Annual Pass holders and visitors 25 and under. For more information, please visit the website.

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