Three Groups of Apostles in a Last Supper (recto); Three Sketches for Medea and Her Children (verso)

Object Details

Title:

Three Groups of Apostles in a Last Supper (recto); Three Sketches for Medea and Her Children (verso)

Artist/Maker(s):

Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577 - 1640)

Culture:

Flemish

Date:

about 1600 - 1604

Medium:

Pen and brown ink

Dimensions:

29.7 x 43.8 cm (11 11/16 x 17 1/4 in.)

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The recto or front of this sheet depicts three independent groups of apostles and two faint, lightly drawn sketches all related to a representation of the Last Supper. Peter Paul Rubens drew on many Italian models, including works by Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, and Michelangelo, for inspiration in depicting the individual apostles. Rubens used a thin, fine line for the monumental figures of the apostles and cross-hatching to convey their solid forms.

The verso, or reverse side of the page, shows several studies of Medea and her slain children. According to Greek legend, Medea, a princess of the foreign kingdom of Colchis, was married to Jason, who eventually left her to marry a native Greek woman. A passionate and jealous woman, Medea stopped at nothing to obtain revenge, including murdering her own children. On the right, long, sweeping lines animate the figure of Medea, whose gaping mouth seems to emit anguished wails. Rubens depicted her striding forward as she roughly carries her children, their bodies limp in death.

Provenance

William Cavendish, second duke of Devonshire, English, 1673 - 1729, by descent to the 11th Duke of Devonshire

Christie's (London) [sold, Christie's, London, July 3, 1984, lot 53]

Exhibitions
Van Dijck Tentoonstelling (August 12 to October 15, 1899) (116; recto)
  • City of Antwerp, August 12 to October 15, 1899
A Loan Exhibition of Works by Peter Paul Rubens (October 4 to November 11, 1950) (39; Cat. by L. Burchard)
  • Wildenstein & Co. (London), October 4 to November 11, 1950
Tekeningen van P. P. Rubens (June 16 to September 16, 1956) (24; Cat. by L. Burchard and R.-A. d'Hulst; p. 52, under no. 40)
  • Rubenshuis, (Antwerp), June 16 to September 16, 1956
Rubens: Drawings and Sketches (1977) (25; Cat. by J. Rowlands)
  • The British Museum, (London), 1977
Rubens in Italien: Gemalde, Olskizzen, Zeichnungen (October 15 to December 15, 1977) (25; Cat. by J. Muller Hofstede; see also p. 238, under no. 48)
  • Kunsthalle Köln, (Cologne), October 15 to December 15, 1977
Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (May 24 to August 8, 1993) (98; recto)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York), May 24 to August 8, 1993
Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (October 29, 1993 to January 23, 1994) (77; recto)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), October 29, 1993 to January 23, 1994
Flemish Drawings of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (August 29 to November 12, 1995) (recto)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), August 29 to November 12, 1995
Master Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (December 16, 1997 to February 22, 1998) (recto)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 16, 1997 to February 22, 1998
Peter Paul Rubens and the Art of Drawing in Flanders (August 29 to October 22, 2000) (verso)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), August 29 to October 22, 2000
Raphael and his Influence Across the Centuries (October 31, 2000 to January 7, 2001) (recto)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), October 31, 2000 to January 7, 2001
Mise-en-Page: The Art of Composing on Paper (December 17, 2002 to March 9, 2003) (verso)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 17, 2002 to March 9, 2003
Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640): The Drawings (September 14, 2004 to April 3, 2005) (6/8; recto; Cat. by A.-M. Logan, et al. Albertina Cat. no. 6, see also p. 117, note 115; Metropolitan Cat. no. 8, see also p. 59, note 117.)
  • Albertina, (Vienna), September 14 to December 5, 2004
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York), January 14 to April 3, 2005
Rubens and his Printmakers (July 5 to September 24, 2006) (recto)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), July 5 to September 24, 2006
Drawing the Classical Figure (December 23, 2008 to March 8, 2009) (verso)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 23, 2008 to March 8, 2009
Drawing in the Age of Rubens (October 14, 2014 to January 11, 2015) (recto)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), October 14, 2014 to January 11, 2015