BRUEGHEL, Jan the Elder
(b. ca. 1568, Bruxelles, d. 1625, Antwerpen)

The Vision of St Hubert

1615-30
Oil on panel, 63 x 100 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

This painting is a fruit of collaboration between Rubens and Jan Brueghel, the former being responsible for the figures and the latter for the landscape.

St Hubert was born in the middle of the seventh century, son of a Duke of Aquitaine. He was elected as Bishop of Maastricht around 705. Later he was transferred to Liege, becoming its first bishop, and evangelised the Ardennes.

At the end of the middle ages, his life was enriched with a number of episodes borrowed from the legend of St Eustace, in particular his encounter with a miraculous stag. One Good Friday Hubert, a fearsome hunter, fell upon a stag with a crucified Christ between its antlers. Blinded in the manner of St Paul on the road to Damascus, he fell from his horse and knelt down. He heard a voice, "Hubert, Hubert, why do you pursue me? Will your love of hunting make you forever forgetful of your salvation?" Hubert immediately changed his life and retired to the forest of Ardennes. He then succeeded St Lambert as Bishop of Maastricht and performed numerous miracles. St Hubert now is the patron saint of hunters, and protector of hunting dogs.