Altarpieces in Antwerp Cathedral
by Pieter Pauwel RUBENS

Antwerp Cathedral is a masterpiece of medieval architecture, and also a repository of a collection of art. It houses four altarpieces by Rubens, the great Flemish Baroque painter.

The earliest of the four altarpieces, the triptych of the Raising of the Cross was in fact painted in 1610 for the high altar of Antwerp's church of St Walpurgis, which was demolished in 1817. The triptych was installed in the cathedral only in 1815. Rubens's real entry into the cathedral was marked by the Descent from the Cross. This triptych was commissioned by Antwerp's Civic Guard (the Arquebusiers) in 1611 for their altar in the cathedral.

Rubens painted the Moretus triptych with the Resurrection of Christ on the centre panel) in 1611-12, shortly after completing the Raising of the Cross and at about the same time as the centre panel of the Descent from the Cross.

The Antwerp Cathedral was given a new marble high altar during the baroque refurbishment. Rubens, the most famous artist of his day, was commissioned in 1625 to paint an altarpiece, the Assumption of the Virgin.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 48 minutes):
Johann Sebastian Bach: Easter Oratorio, BWV 249


Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
Raising of the Cross
1610
Oil on panel, 460 x 340 cm (centre panel), 460 x 150 cm (wings)
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

1254*808
True Color
190 Kb



Raising of the Cross (detail)
1610
Oil on panel, 460 x 340 cm
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

712*1025
True Color
116 Kb



Raising of the Cross (detail)
1610
Oil on panel
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

712*1023
True Color
110 Kb



Raising of the Cross: Sts Amand and Walpurgis
1610
Oil on panel, 460 x 150 cm
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

600*1571
True Color
164 Kb



Raising of the Cross: Sts Eligius and Catherine
1610
Oil on panel, 460 x 150 cm
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

605*1576
True Color
173 Kb



The Resurrection of Christ
1611-12
Oil on panel, 138 x 98 cm (centre panel), 136 x 40 cm (wings)
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

1044*730
True Color
128 Kb



The Resurrection of Christ
1611-12
Oil on panel, 138 x 98 cm
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

723*1041
True Color
121 Kb



The Resurrection of Christ
1611-12
Oil on panel, 138 x 98 cm (centre panel), 136 x 40 cm (wings)
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

800*1073
True Color
128 Kb



Descent from the Cross
1612-14
Oil on panel, 421 x 311 cm (centre panel), 421 x 153 cm (wings)
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

1255*808
True Color
174 Kb



Descent from the Cross (centre panel)
1612-14
Oil on panel, 421 x 311 cm
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

957*1320
True Color
186 Kb



Descent from the Cross (left wing)
1612-14
Oil on panel, 421 x 153 cm
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

519*1446
True Color
131 Kb



Descent from the Cross (outside left)
1612-14
Oil on panel, 421 x 153 cm
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

601*1556
True Color
117 Kb



Descent from the Cross (right wing)
1612-14
Oil on panel, 421 x 153 cm
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

520*1448
True Color
137 Kb



Descent from the Cross (outside right)
1612-14
Oil on panel, 421 x 153 cm
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

605*1596
True Color
135 Kb



Descent from the Cross
1612-14
Oil on panel
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

1100*756
True Color
117 Kb



Meeting of Mary and Elisabeth (detail)
1612-14
Oil on panel
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

1093*750
True Color
126 Kb



Virgin and Child
1624-25
Oil on canvas, 151 x 108 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

1021*1400
True Color
184 Kb



Assumption of the Virgin
1626
Oil on panel, 490 x 325 cm
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

850*1312
True Color
188 Kb



Assumption of the Virgin (detail)
1626
Oil on canvas
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

934*650
True Color
95 Kb



Assumption of the Virgin (detail)
1626
Oil on canvas
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

1030*706
True Color
127 Kb




Summary of works by Rubens
Religious themes
until 1616 | 1617-20 | 1620s | 1630s
Altarpieces in Antwerp Cathedral | Biblical scenes
Mythological themes
until 1614 | 1614-29 | 1630s
Large royal projects | Allegorical themes
Portraits
until 1629 | 1630s
Miscellaneous
Landscapes | Hunting and other themes
Graphic works