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Peter Paul Rubens: Deposition - central panel

Peter Paul Rubens 1577 – 1640

Deposition - central panel

oil on panel (421 × 311 cm) — 1612 - 14 Museum Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp

Peter Paul Rubens biography

This work is linked to John 19:38

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Tags: Deposition

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Joseph of Arimathea has been granted permission to take down the body of Christ - a special dispensation, since it was customary to let the bodies hang.

John the Apostle, Nicodemus and two servants lend a hand. Christ's feet are resting on Mary Magdalene's shoulders. The woman in blue is Mary, Mother of Christ.

This is the central panel of a triptych. A single element unites the three scenes - Christ is portrayed as being carried.

Rubens made this painting for the Guild of Arquebusiers, who wanted their patron Saint Christopher (meaning: carrier of Christ) portrayed. If Rubens had complied with this wish, he would have had to explain himself to the authorities, because the strict Contra-Reformation's principles did not allow portraits of saints to be hung in cathedrals. Instead, Rubens chose to hide all references to Christopher by portraying Christ as being carried in all three panels.

Left wing: Visitation.
Right wing: Presentation in the temple.

The triptych was made for Our Lady's cathedral in Antwerp, where it still hangs today. In 1815 it was been joined by another famous Rubens triptych: the Raising of the Cross.

Page metadata

Title: Peter Paul Rubens: Deposition - central panel
Author / citation: here
First published: 27 September 2005
Last modified: 14 August 2007