Peter Paul Rubens 1577 – 1640
Deposition - central panel
oil on panel (421 × 311 cm) — 1612 - 14 Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp
This work is linked to John 19:38
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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.
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