Peter Paul Rubens 1577 – 1640

The Visitation (Deposition - left wing)

oil on panel (421 × 153 cm) — 1612 - 1614 Museum Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp

Peter Paul Rubens biography

This work is linked to Luke 1:40

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Mary visits her cousin Elisabeth, who is expectant of John the Baptist. Behind the women, their husbands Joseph and Zacharias. This scene is often referred to as The Visitation.

Please note that Mary is pregnant, and is thus literally carrying Christ.

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. The strict Contra-Reformation's principles did not allow portraits of saints to be hung in cathedrals. Rubens chose to hide all references to Christopher by portraying Christ as being carried in all three panels.

This panel clearly shows the influence of Venetian painters Rubens had studied during his journey to Italy.

Left panel of a famous triptych by Rubens. Centre panel, right panel.

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