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 Glorification of the Eucharist, ca. 1633-35
Oil on panel, 71.1 x 48.3 cm
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Ogden Mills, 1929. (37.160.12)

Catalog Entry by Marjorie E. Wieseman

Christ, wearing a rose mantle, stands atop a globe encircled by a serpent, crushing beneath it a human skeleton. In his right hand he holds aloft a chalice with the Host; in his left is a banner. In the sky to either side are several putti bearing symbols of the Eucharist: cross, candle, ewer and napkin, missal, censer, and a paten with cruets of water and wine. God the Father is seated in the clouds at the top of the composition, and the dove of the Holy Spirit hovers between him and Christ. To Christ's right are Melchizedek, in yellow and red, and Elijah, wearing olive green; to his left, St. Paul and St. Cyril of Alexandria, the latter wearing the white habit of the Carmelite order. Although the panel has been reduced at the top and to either side (by about 30 cm in height and 15 cm in width, sometime after 1771), portions of the altar surround framing the composition are still visible. Sketched in thin brown paint are Rubens's different options for the design of the altar: a Corinthian column and pilaster at left, and a twisted Solomonic column to the right. Above the arched top of the altarpiece are strapwork scrolls and remnants of the legs of two angels, flanking the vestigial base of a niche...

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