Page images


This picture is generally considered one of Rubens' finest. It presents the most varied motions and the richest effects that his imagination could create in an allegorical subject, with nothing to arrest it.


Quite in the upper part of the painting, God the Father is below him is the Holy Ghost, under the figure of a dove. Jesus-Christ, who is placed more conspicuously, is seated, accompanied by the Righteous of the Old Testament, amongst whom Moses is seen standing, and King David sitting, quite on the right hand. On the other side, are Saints, both male and female in the first rank are the Virgin and St. Peter. Jesus Christ raises his right hand, and, by this action, calls to him all the Righteous who ascend to heaven, whilst, with his left hand, he rejects the Wicked, whom St. Michael and other angels cast into hell.

Amongst the figures, on the left hand side, a woman may be discerned sitting, with her hands crossed on her bosom. It is the likeness of Helen Forman, Rubens' second wife, whose portrait he delighted in painting, and which he has often introduced in his pictures. The painter has represented. himself under the figure of the man who is behind her.

Wolfang William, Duke of Newburg, commissioned Rubens to paint this picture for the Jesuits' Church in that town. The Elector Palatine, John William, wishing to have it in his Gallery at Dusseldorff, had another picture done to take its place. It afterwards came in the Gallery of Munich, where it now is. There is a sketch of this picture in the Gallery of Dresden.

Height 19 feet 11 inches; width 14 feet 11 inches.

[ocr errors][merged small]

When we gave, no. 61, the Visitation painted by Raphael, we quoted the passage from St. Luke, wherein he recals, that the Virgin coming into a city of Judæa « she entered into the house of Zacharias and saluted Elisabeth.» We shall observe that Rubens has followed the text of the Gospel closer than Raphael: still his picture presents us nothing of an oriental cast. In fact the house with a vast portico supported by columns, also an open door way, the vaulted ceiling of which is ornamented with bossage stones, are marked contradictions; the architecture of the people of Judæa having no analogy with the European of the XVII th. century.

This omission of customs does not prevent the picture from being very fine with respect to the composition. The effect is very brilliant, the colouring faithful and strong; and the manner in which it is painted is quite remarkable for its extreme freshness.

This picture has been engraved by P. de Jode, and also by the mediocre Ragot.

Height, 13 feet 6 inches; width, 4 feet 10 inches.

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »