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The Triumph of the Eucharist over Idolatry
Rubens, Peter Paul
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Rubens, Peter Paul

Siegen, Westphalia (Germany), 1577 - Antwerp (Belgium), 1640

Rubens, Peter Paul See author's file

The Triumph of the Eucharist over Idolatry

Ca. 1625. Oil Room 078

In 1625, Archduchess Isabel Clara Eugenia commissioned Rubens to design a series of twenty tapestries for the Monastery of the Descalzas Reales in Madrid. The subject was the Eucharist, a leading Catholic dogma that the infanta defended in her role as sovereign princess of the southern Netherlands. Rubens conceived the scenes like victory marches, as if the cloths were hanging from baroque architecture. This rather contrived effect provoked doubts about what was real and what was created by the artist. The six panels at the Museo del Prado (P1695-P1700) are part of the process necessary for creating tapestries. They are models painted by Rubens as the basis for much larger cartoons that weavers follow when making tapestries. During the 18th century, four of these paintings had pieces added to all four sides, and two had additions to the top and bottom. These have been removed to recover the works’ original compositions. In the present work, an angel holds a chalice with the sacrament whose living radiance illuminates the inside of the Roman Temple of Capitoline Jupiter, where a pagan sacrifice was being held, causing its participants to flee. In the center, a muscular slaughterer strides towards the viewer, shielding his eyes from the glare above. He is followed by an elderly priest and a younger one. On one side, a kneeling servant grasps the horns of a bull, struggling to immobilize it for the sacrifice. Amidst the chaos, a stone altar tips dangerously and a decorated gold vessel spills the wine of libation, which falls outside the scene, into a marble fount built into an architectural frame flanked by two sculptured rams’ heads. In a dark corner of the temple, a ritual is being carried out by torchlight before an altar at the foot of a statue of the god, Jupiter. In reality, the entire scene is presented as a tapestry held at the top by four winged cherubs. Hanging behind the garland of fruit at the center, it extends as far as the twisted columns with gilded bases and capitals at the sides (Text drawn from Vergara, A.; Preciado, J. J.: Rubens. Guía de la exposición, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2010, p. 23; Vergara, A.: Rubens. El triunfo de la Eucaristía, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2014, p. 76).


Technical data

Rubens, Peter Paul
The Triumph of the Eucharist over Idolatry
Ca. 1625
Height: 65 cm.; Width: 91 cm.
El triunfo de la Eucaristía

Exhibitions +

Rubens. Painter of Sketches
10.04.2018 - 05.08.2018

Location +

Room 078 (On Display)

Update date: 19-09-2019 | Registry created on 17-01-2018

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