The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Virgin as the Woman of the Apocalypse

Object Details


The Virgin as the Woman of the Apocalypse


Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577 - 1640)




about 1623–1624


Oil on panel

Object Number:



64.5 × 49.8 cm (25 3/8 × 19 5/8 in.)

See more

See less

Object Description

This oil sketch or modello was commissioned by Prince-Bishop Viet Adam for the main altarpiece of Freising Cathedral in southern Germany. In the center the Virgin Mary holds the Christ Child while trampling the serpent of sin, who curls around the moon at her feet. To the left the Archangel Michael and angels cast out Satan, the "great red dragon with seven heads," and other ghoulish demons. Above, God the Father instructs an angel to place a pair of wings on the Virgin's shoulders.

Peter Paul Rubens contrasted good with evil by juxtaposing the agony and gruesomeness of the demons as they fall into hell with the Virgin and Child rising heavenward at the right. Rapid and gestural brushstrokes lend immediacy and drama to the scene.

about 1623/1624 - 1803

Kloster Neustift (Freising, Germany)

- 1820

Benjamin West, American, 1738 - 1820 (London, England) [sold, West sale, Christie's, London, June 24, 1820, lot 75, to Baker.]

1820 -

Baker (London, England)


Private Collection [unsold, Christie's, June 10, 1822.]


Private Collection [sold, West sale, Christie's, London, May 28, 1824, lot 70.]

by 1868 - 1887

Edmund M. Blood (London, England), sold through Wilhelm von Bode (Berlin, Germany) to Eduard Friedrich Weber.

1887 - 1912

Eduard Friedrich Weber, German, 1830 - 1907 (Hamburg, Germany) [sold, Weber sale, Lepke, Berlin, February 20, 1912, lot 191, to Marczell de Nemes von Janoshaza.]

1912 - 1913

Marczell de Nemes von Janoshaza, 1866 - 1930 (Budapest, Hungary; Munich, Germany) [sold, Marczell de Nemes sale, Lair-Dubreuil, Baudoin, at Galerie Manzi-Joyant, Paris, June 17, 1913, lot 72.]

by 1917 -

Federico Gentili di Giuseppe, 1868 - 1940 (Paris, France)

by 1919 -

Bousquart (Paris, France)

- 1938

Walter M. Feilchenfeldt (Berlin, Germany; London, England; Zurich, Switzerland) and Galerie Paul Cassirer (Berlin, Germany; London, England; Zurich, Switzerland), sold to Alfred Hausamann, 1938.

1938 - 1984

Alfred Hausamann (Zürich, Switzerland), sold through Walter Feilchenfeldt (Zurich, Switzerland) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

National Exhibition of Works of Art (1868) (p. 56 [as Rubens oil sketch for the Vision of the Red Dragon])
  • Leeds City Museum and Galleries (Leeds), 1868
Kunsthistorische Ausstellung (1904) (p. 119 cat. edited by E. Firmenich-Richartz)
  • Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, 1904
Sammlung Marczell von Nemes (July to December 1912)
  • Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, July to December 1912
Olieverfschetsen van Rubens (July 1, 1953 to December 1, 1954) (pp. 67 - 68, pl. 41)
  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam), July 1, 1953 to December 1, 1954
Weltkunst aus Privatbesitz (May 18 to August 4, 1968) (F31, colorplate XX)
  • Kunsthalle Köln (Cologne), May 18 to August 4, 1968
Rubens and His Time (November 5, 1998 to June 27, 1999)
  • Museo Nacional de San Carlos (Mexico City), November 5, 1998 to February 28, 1999
  • Palazzo dei Diamanti (Ferrara), March 28 to June 27, 1999
Drawn by the Brush: Oil Sketches by Peter Paul Rubens (October 2, 2004 to September 11, 2005)
  • Bruce Museum (Greenwich), October 2, 2004 to January 30, 2005
  • University of California, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive (Berkeley), March 2 to May 22, 2005
  • Cincinnati Art Museum (Cincinnati), June 14 to September 11, 2005
American Adversaries: West and Copley in a Transatlantic World (October 6, 2013 to January 19, 2014)
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, October 6, 2013 to January 19, 2014

Meichelbeck, Carolus. Kurtze Freyingische Chronica oder Historia. (Freysing: 1724), vol. I, p. 288.

Rooses, Max. L'Oeuvre de P.P. Rubens, vol. V. (Antwerp: 1892), no. 384bis, p. 331.

Woermann, Karl. Wissenschafliches Verseichnis der älteren Gemälde der Galerie Weber in Hamburg. (Dresden: 1892; 2nd edition Dresden: 1907), no. 165, pp. 136-37; 2nd ed., no. 191, pp. 164-65.

Gemälde alter Meister der Sammlung Weber. (Lübeck: 1898; second edition Leipzig: 1923), 17.

Rosenberg, Adolf. "P.P. Rubens-Des Meisters Gemälde." Klassiker der Kunst. (1st edition Stuttgart and Leipzig: 1905; 2nd edition Stuttgart and Leipzig: 1906; 3rd edition Stuttgart and Leipzig: 1911), 1st ed., repr. p. 52; 2nd ed., repr. p. 52, pp. 466 and 490; 3rd ed., repr. p. 52, pp. 468 and 491.

Dillon, Edward. Rubens (London: Methuen and Co., 1909), p. 218, pl. XLV.

Burchard, Ludwig. "Anmerkungen zu den Rubens-Bilder der Älten Pinakothek in München." Kunstchronik neue folge, vol. XXII, no. 17. (February 23, 1912), no. 739, p. 260.

Katalog der Königliche älteren Pinakothek. (Munich: 1911), no. 739, pp. 134-35.

Glaser, Curt. "Die Sammlung Weber." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft, vol. XXXV. (1912), p. 94.

Schaeffer, Emil. "La Vendita della Collezione Weber a Berlino." Rassegan d'Arte, vol. XII, nos. 4-5. (April - May 1912), p. 76, repr. p. 76.

Katalog der aus der Sammlung des kgl. Rates Marczell von Nemes-Budapest ausgestellten Gemälde, exh. cat. (Düsseldorf: Städt. Kunsthalle, with A. Bagel, 1912), unpaginated, no. 29, ill.

"La Collection Marczell de Nemes." Les Arts. (June 1913), p. 23.

Oulmont, Charles. "Collection M.-F. Gentili di Giuseppe." Les Arts, vol. XIV. (1917), no. 162, p. 7, repr. p. 15.

Feulner, Adolf. "Zu Datierung des Apokalyptischen Wiebesvon P.P. Rubens." Monatschefte für Kunstwissenschaft, vol. XII. (1919), p. 342.

Oldenbourg, Rudolf. "P.P. Rubens-Des Meisters Gemälde." Klassiker der Kunst, fourth edition. (Stuttgart and Berlin: 1921), no. 240, p. 464.

Katalog der Älteren Pinakothek zu München. 14th ed. (Munich: Die Pinakothek, 1922), pp. 142-43, no. 891.

Ältere Pinakothek München. 18th ed. (Munich: Carl Gerber, 1936), no. 891, p. 216.

Gasser, Manuel, and Willy Rotzler. Kunst Schaetze in der Schweiz. (Zurich: 1964), no. 50., ill.

Held, Julius. The Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens--A Critical Catalogue. 2 vols. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), vol. 2, pl. 379.

Held, Julius. The Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens--A Critical Catalogue. 2 vols. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), vol. 1, pp. 525-26, no. 389.

Weber, Leo. Die Erneuerung des Domes zu Freising 1621-1630. (Munich: 1985), p. 83, note 345, 84-90, fig. 118.

"Acquisitions/1985." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 14 (1986), p. 215, no. 118.

Jaffé, Michael. Rubens: Catalogo completo. Germano Mulazzani, trans. (Milan: Rizzoli, 1989), p. 284, no. 783.

Renger, Konrad. Peter Paul Rubens Altäre für Bayern, exh. cat. (Alte Pinakothek, Munich: 1990-1991), pp. 74, 116-17, note 28, fig. 44.

Renger, Konrad. "Rubens' Bavarian Altarpieces and Counter Reformation propaganda." Rubens dall'Italia all'Europa: Atti del convengo internazionale di Studi, Padova, 24-27 maggio 1990. (Padua: 1992), p. 29.

Carr, Dawson W., and Mark Leonard. Looking at Paintings: A Guide to Technical Terms (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, with British Museum Press, 1992), pp. 22-23, ill.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 109, ill.

Yeide, Nancy H., Konstantin Akinsha, and Amy L. Walsh. The AAM Guide to Provenance Research. Washington D.C.: American Association of Museums, 2001, p. 13, ill., p. 148.

Renger, Konrad with Claudia Denk. Flämische Malerei des Barock in der Alten Pinakothek (2002), p. 317, ill. p. 318.

Giorgi, Rosa. Angeli e demoni (Milan: Electa, 2003), p. 267, ill.

Giorgi, Rosa. Engel, Dämonen und phantastische Wesen (Berlin: Parthas Verlag, 2004), p. 267, ill.

Giorgi, Rosa. Angels and Demons in Art. Stefano Zuffi, ed. Rosanna M. Giammanco Frongia, trans. (Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum, 2005), p. 267, ill.

Sutton, Peter C., et al., eds. Drawn by the Brush: Oil Sketches by Peter Paul Rubens, exh. cat. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005), pp. 138-41, fig. 14.

Mues Orts, Paula. La libertad del pincel: los discursos sobre la nobleza de la pintura en Nueva España (Mexico City: Universidad Iberoamericana, 2008), pp. 283-84, ill. p. 288, fig. 32.

Doherty, Tiarna, and Anne T. Woollett. Looking at Paintings: A Guide to Technical Terms. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2009), pp. 22-23, ill.

Lisboa, Maria Manuel. The End of the World: Apocalypse and its Aftermath in Western Culture (Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2011), p. 78, ill.

Weber, Kaylin H. "A Temple of History Painting: West's Newman Street Studio and Art Collection." In American Adversaries: West and Copley in a Transatlantic World, exh. cat. Emily Ballew Neff and Kaylin H. Weber, eds. (Houston: The Museum of Fine Arts, with Yale University Press, 2013), pp. 34, 36-37, fig. 38.

Neff, Emily Ballew, and Kaylin H. Weber, eds. American Adversaries: West and Copley in a Transatlantic World, exh. cat. (Houston: The Museum of Fine Arts, with Yale University Press, 2013), p. 245.

Sauerländer, Willibald. The Catholic Rubens: Saints and Martyrs. David Dollenmayer, trans. (Los Angeles: The Getty Research Institute, 2014), pp. 39-40, 279n22, cover ill.