Drawn by the Brush: Oil Sketches by Peter Paul Rubens
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The Church Triumphant
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Peter Paul Rubens
The Triumph of Hope, ca. 1625
Oil on panel, 16 x 19 cm
Collection Richard L. Feigen

Catalog Entry by Peter C. Sutton

In a fictive tapestry suspended from rusticated Tuscan columns, a two-masted ship with billowing sails and oars travels a dark and choppy blue-green sea. In the stern a winged female figure in white with a gold nimbus about her head turns to look back at the viewer. She holds the tiller in one hand and a white flower, probably a lily, in the other. Four winged figures, presumably angels, strain at the oars on the starboard side of the boat that is decorated below the gunnel with four oval shields. Three putti clamber about the mast and attend to the sail. In the bow is a golden lantern atop the figurehead. Originally Rubens painted two columns on the right. Only their capitals now emerge above the tapestry; however, the shafts of the overpainted columns and the horizontal architrave at the top are plainly visible in pentimenti. The master's light and delicate touch is especially effective in intimating the atmosphere of the sea and the freshness of the breeze. Despite the panel's diminutive dimensions, the scene achieves a monumental and dramatic effect...

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