The Assumption of the Virgin

Object Details


The Assumption of the Virgin


Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577 - 1640)




about 1613–1614


Pen and brown ink, brown wash over black chalk, incised for transfer

Object Number:



30 × 18.9 cm (11 13/16 × 7 7/16 in.)

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In 1612 Jan and Balthasar Moretus, the owners of Antwerp's Plantin Press, commissioned their friend Peter Paul Rubens to design thirteen illustrations for a new Breviarium Romanum, the Catholic prayer book; this drawing and the twelve others were completed by March 1614. A friend since childhood, Balthasar Moretus would in his later years write of Rubens, "I loved this young man who had the most perfect and the most amiable character."

The assumption of the Virgin was a subject to which Rubens repeatedly returned throughout his career. In this version, the controlled, classical composition echoes one of Titian's altarpieces of the same subject. The bravura style of Baroque Italian painters also influenced Rubens's ebullient and dramatically foreshortened putti.

Rubens began drawing in chalk, which he then covered over with pen, ink, and wash. The chalk underdrawing contains several pentimenti, which are most obvious in the figure of the Virgin. These changes of mind, as well as the indents for transfer onto the plate are probably evidence that this drawing was the final of several studies, not the final sheet from which the engraver would work.

- 1754

Henri Tersmitten [sold, de Bary and Yver, Amsterdam, September 23, 1754, lot 434.]


T. Philipe (London, England)


Sir W. Forbes Pitsligo, by inheritance.

- 1983

Private Collection (London, England) [sold, Christie's, London, April 12, 1983, lot 155, to the J. Paul Getty Museum.]

16-17th Century European Drawings (December 28, 1993 to March 13, 1994)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), December 28, 1993 to March 13, 1994
Flemish Drawings of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (August 29 to November 12, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), August 29 to November 12, 1995
Figural Compositional Drawings from the 16th to the 19th Century (August 31 to December 8, 1996)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), August 31 to December 8, 1996
Peter Paul Rubens and the Art of Drawing in Flanders (August 29 to October 22, 2000)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), August 29 to October 22, 2000
José Juárez: Recursos y discursos del arte de pintar (June 20 to September 20, 2002) (Essay by Nelly Sigaut, p. 34.)
  • Museo Nacional de Arte (Mexico City), June 20 to September 20, 2002
Between Heaven and Earth: Images of Christ and the Virgin (March 19 to June 29, 2003)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 19 to June 29, 2003
Rubens and his Printmakers (July 5 to September 24, 2006)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), July 5 to September 24, 2006
Himmlisch-Herrlich-Hofisch (September 20 to January 11)
  • Museum Kunst Palast (Düsseldorf), September 20, 2008 to January 11, 2009
Drawing in the Age of Rubens (October 14, 2014 to January 11, 2015)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 14, 2014 to January 11, 2015