Peter Paul Rubens

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Peter Paul Rubens
Descent from the Cross. Verso: St. Andrew
ca. 1617-1618; verso: ca. 1617-1619
Pen and brown ink and wash over black chalk on light brown laid paper; verso: pen and brown ink and wash, with trace of black chalk.
13 9/16 x 9 1/16 inches (345 x 233 mm)
Thaw Collection.

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Watermark: none.
The same conception of the "Descent from the Cross" is repeated in a drawing in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
The drawing is connected with two paintings of the subject, one now at the Musée des Beaux Arts, Lille from 1617 and the other at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, generally dated 1617-18.
The drawing on the verso is preparatory for the outer right wing of an altarpiece with the "Miraculous Draught of Fishes", which was planned no later than September 1617 but painted between 5 February 1618 and 11 August 1619 for the altar of the Fishmonger's Guild in Notre-Dame-au-delà-de-la-Dyle in Mechelen. Two studies for the same figure, both in black chalk, are in the Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen.
These dynamic studies for a depiction of Christ's Descent from the Cross represent Rubens's initial ideas for a composition that he later realized in two painted versions. He started in the lower left center with the head of the dead Christ; he then turned the sheet 180 degrees and executed the figure group on the top half. Finally, he made a small-scale study at lower right. In the web of virtuoso, spirited pen lines, the most striking feature is Christ's lifeless body at the top, his head fallen to one side and his limbs convincingly limp. -- Exhibition Label, from "Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings from the Thaw Collection"


Numbered at upper right, in brown ink, "3"; at lower left, in a more modern hand, in graphite, "6"; on the verso, at lower left, in graphite, "2".

Mrs. G.W. Wrangham, London; Edward Wrangham, London; Baskett & Day (dealer), London; Mr. and Mrs. Eugene V. Thaw, New York.
Associated names: 

Wrangham, G. W., Mrs., former owner.
Wrangham, Edward, former owner.
Thaw, Eugene Victor, former owner.
Thaw, Clare, former owner.


Tuinen, Ilona van. Power and Grace : Drawings by Rubens, Van Dyck, and Jordaens. New York : Morgan Library & Museum, 2018, page 21, fig. 7-8 (repr.)
The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, NY, "Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings from the Thaw Collection", 2017. Exh. cat., no. 344, repr.
Stampfle, Felice, and Cara D. Denison. Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene V. Thaw. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1975, no. 11, repr. (also in Thaw III, no. 13)
Denison, Cara D. et al. The Thaw Collection : Master Drawings and New Acquisitions. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1994, no. 13.
From Leonardo to Pollock: Master drawings from the Morgan Library. New York: Morgan Library, 2006, cat. no. 38, p. 82-85.
100 Master drawings from the Morgan Library & Museum. München : Hirmer, 2008, no. 48, repr. [Jennifer Tonkovich]

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