Peter Paul Rubens's Painting: The Elevation Of The Cross

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The Elevation of the Cross was painted by Peter Paul Rubens during the Baroque time period in 1610-1611. The painting itself is fifteen feet in height and twenty-one feet in width (Pritchard). Rubens created the painting using oil paint, specifically oil paint on wood (Pritchard). Prior to the destruction of the church, the Elevation of the Cross was originally located at the Church of St. Walburga in Antwerp (Pritchard). Today, the painting is located at the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp (Pritchard). Within that Cathedral, the painting functions as an altarpiece (Pritchard). On the exterior of the altarpiece, Saints Amandus and Walburga can be found on the left and Saints Catherine of Alexandria and Eligius can be found on the right (Pritchard). …show more content…
The painting at first glance is massive, especially since it is elevated as a high altarpiece. Automatically you are able to see that the painting pertains to a religious subject, the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. A prominent subject directly in the Gospels of the New Testament. In the left panel, St. John the Evangelist and the Virgin Mary are visible in the back with a group of grieving women at their feet (Pritchard). In the right panel, the Roman soldiers are preparing the two thieves to be crucified next to Jesus Christ as told by the narrative (Pritchard). Lastly, in the central panel we see the moment just as Christ’s cross is being raised upright to complete the crucifixion …show more content…
The Elevation of the Cross was painted by Rubens in Italy allowing it to be subject to a variety of Italian influences (Pritchard). The first of which being the richness of color in the painting (Pritchard). The dark blues and reds in Ruben’s painting are similar to the artistic style used by Titian as seen in his Pesaro Madonna from 1526. Clearly, a characteristic Ruben could have emulated from Titian who painted during the Venetian era (Pritchard). Through Caravaggio’s Crucifixion of St. Peter in 1600, it is evident this work influenced Ruben heavily through elements such as diagonals and use of tenebrism (Pritchard). Despite one work being of Jesus Christ and the other of St. Peter, both exemplify crucifixions. It is practically the same event with men raising the cross in both pieces of art. Just like the diagonal on the cross in Caravaggio’s Crucifixion of St. Peter, there is also a strong and identical diagonal in Ruben’s Elevation of the Cross (Pritchard). Not only do both works include stark contrasts between light and dark but also the automatic sense of drama

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