Pieter Paul Rubens

Descent from the Cross

Descent from the Cross
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Pieter Paul Rubens
Painting, Oil on canvas, 297x200 cm
Origin: Flanders, Circa 1617-1618

After the success of his monumental altar triptych for Antwerp Cathedral in 1614, Rubens received a number of commissions to produce variations on the central panel, which showed the Descent from the Cross. The theme was traditionally used in art to illustrate the Christian dogma of atonement for the Original Sin and the mystery of Communion. Unlike Netherlandish paintings of the 15th and 16th centuries, which presented a detailed narrative, Rubens treated the subject in accordance with the canons set out by the Council of Trent . Instead of a multi-figure composition, here we find only those directly mentioned in the Gospels. Thus the dead body of Christ is supported in silent grief by Joseph of Arimathaea, Nicodemus and the young John the Evangelist. Mary, gently holding her son for the last time, symbolises the Christian virtue of resignation. Mary Magdalene has fallen to her knees, the personification of repentance.

The simplicity used in conveying the emotional state of each figure, united as they are by a common feeling of unbounded sorrow, was dictated by the artist's desire to emphasise their understanding of the necessity and inevitability of the Messiah's self-sacrifice.

Personage: Christ
Style: Baroque
Source of entry: Collection of Empress Josephine, Malmaison, 1814
Theme: The Bible and Christianity
Exibition: Flemish Art: 17th century

See also

Peter Paul Rubens - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Peter Paul Rubens (Jay 30, 1640) was a prolific seventeenth- century Flemish Baroque painter, and a proponent of an exuberant ...
WebMuseum: Rubens, Peter Paul
Provides the artist's biography and a collection of images.
Peter Paul Rubens Online
Peter Paul Rubens [Flemish Baroque Era Painter, 1577-1640] Guide to pictures of works by Peter Paul Rubens in art museum sites and image archives worldwide.
Houses of Pieter Paul Rubens
Houses of Pieter Paul Rubens. Rubens built his house in Antwerp during the years 1610-15. This large house served as both home and workshop. ...

Site map

Albums Authors Countries Sources Epoches Exibitions Genres
Personages Schools Styles Techniques Themes Types Workshops

Image Use Policy

Unless otherwise noted, images this web site may be used for any purpose without prior permission.

Any material in the public domain found on this web site is not protected by copyright.

We make no representations or warranties with respect to ownership of copyrights in the images, and do not represent others who may claim to be authors or owners of copyright of any of the images, and make no warranties as to the quality of the images.

We shall not be responsible for any loss or expenses resulting from the use of the images, and you release and hold us harmless from all liability arising from such use.

We do not sell art prints, framed posters or reproductions. Ads are shown only to compensate the hosting expenses.