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 Last Supper, 1620-21
Oil on panel, 43.8 x 44.1 cm
Seattle Art Museum, Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, acc. no. 61.166


Catalog Entry by Marjorie E. Wieseman

In 1615 the Jesuit community in Antwerp began construction of a magnificent new church, a sumptuous "Marble Temple" that was to function as both a calculated expression of the power of the Catholic faith in Antwerp, the northern bastion of Counter-Reformatory zeal; and a monument to the wealth and influence of the Jesuit order. Although it now bears the name of St. Carlo Borromeo, the Antwerp church (completed in 1621) was the first dedicated to St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order, who was canonized only in 1622. Rubens was involved in this project almost from its inception: he designed decorative elements for the façade of the building and painted two major altarpieces for the church, which depicted the key Jesuit saints—Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier—performing miracles (both Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna). Rubens's most extensive involvement with the church, however, was in the form of thirty-nine ceiling paintings commissioned to decorate the sanctuary's side aisles and galleries, and the underside of the organ loft...


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