RUBENS, Peter Paul
(b. 1577, Siegen, d. 1640, Antwerpen)

Triumph of Church over Fury, Discord, and Hate

Oil on panel, 86 x 91 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

In the early years of the seventeenth century painters of Madrid provided their patrons with eternal truths embodied in stable compositions, as if the confusion and mingling of forms would distract the viewer from the message. The paintings of Rubens offered a viable alternative by demonstrating that heightened colour and pictorial energy did not necessarily compromise the exposition of doctrine and dogma. The Eucharist tapestries in the Descalzas Reales were a convincing demonstration of the point. Although rich in symbols and complex in composition, they constitute a flawless, ringing exposition of a cardinal doctrine of the Catholic church, and the lesson was not lost on the guardians of religious life.

This picture shows an oil sketch for Eucharistic tapestry.