Peter Paul Rubens 1577 – 1640

Raising of the Cross (Antwerp)

oil on panel (centre panel: 460 × 340 cm, wings: 460 × 150 cm) — 1610 Museum Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp

Peter Paul Rubens biography

This work is linked to Matthew 27:35

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This famous triptych was made for the church of St-Walpurgis in Antwerp. Since 1815 it is on display in the cathedral of Our Lady, also in Antwerp. There it is a companion to another famous Rubens triptych: the Deposition.

Contrary to many other triptychs, here the panels tell one story.

The centre panel is filled with drama and power. The strong, tainted figures lug the ropes in order to raise the cross, carrying the pale body of Jesus. The influence of Michelangelo and Tintoretto on Rubens is obvious in the muscular bodies.

To the left is a group of spectators, with John the Evangelist and Mary standing aside a group of women. On the right panel are Roman soldiers and the two criminals who also were to be crucified.

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