Rubens, an outstanding artist, scholar and diplomat, enjoyed a long, prolific and internationally successful career. He painted themes from the Bible and classical mythology, portraits, landscapes and allegorical subjects. After spending eight years in Italy, he returned to Antwerp in 1608, where he set up a flourishing workshop. He generally painted on a large scale, and excelled in describing dramatic episodes through ample figures in dynamic poses, sumptuous colour and brilliant lighting. Rubens employed many assistants to meet the demand for his work, which came from wealthy patrons at home and abroad, including the kings of Spain, France and Britain.