What's so special about Rubens? Well, the answer to that is about the same as what's so special about Leonardo, or what's so special about Rembrandt. But I don't think I'll tell you the answer just yet. Because another question is bothering me more: What's so special about Rubens' nudes? They're flabby and pasty, and just the opposite of what a nude is supposed to represent.
  Peter Paul Rubens - The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus  
  Image courtesy of Mark Harden's Artchive  

Take a look at Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century portraits,

Sir Henry Raeburn - Mrs. Hume Drummond

and Rubens' nudes begin to make sense. They're the same women with the broad and sloping shoulders and wide bones whose beauty seems so closely linked to their poise and dignity. The same women, in fact, as all of those famous Eighteenth Century beloveds.
Francois Boucher - Diana Resting After the Hunt

So where did Rubens slip off the track (if you'll forgive me for saying so)? He finally chose the wrong side in the age-old fight between beauty on the one hand and virtuosity and illusionism on the other. There are temptations which a human being just shouldn't be asked to bear.

Spaces, not commas, please!