The Entombment

Object Details

Title:

The Entombment

Artist/Maker:

Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577 - 1640)

Culture:

Flemish

Date:

about 1612

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Dimensions:

131.1 × 130.2 cm (51 5/8 × 51 1/4 in.)

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Peter Paul Rubens depicted the moment after the Crucifixion and before the Resurrection when Christ is placed into the tomb. He is being supported by those closest to him in life: John the Evangelist, in a brilliant red robe, bears the weight of Christ; Mary Magdalene cries in the background; while Mary, the mother of James the Younger and Joseph, bows her head in sorrow. Mary, the mother of Christ, cradles his head and looks heavenward for divine intercession.

The Entombment was meant to make the viewer's religious experience personal and encourage the faithful to imagine the physical horror of Christ's Crucifixion. Christ's tortured features confront the viewer, and our attention is focused on his corpse, sacrifice, and suffering. Wounds are openly displayed: blood flows from the gaping laceration in Christ's side and the puncture wounds on his hands. Rubens contrasted the living and the dead by juxtaposing the lifeless body and green-tinged skin of Christ with the healthy complexion of St. John.

This painting was probably made to serve as an altarpiece in a small chapel, perhaps one dedicated to the Eucharist. The slab on which the body is placed suggests an altar, while the sheaf of wheat alludes to the bread of the Eucharist, the equivalent of Christ's body in the Mass.

Provenance
by 1651 -

Gaspar de Haro y Guzmán, seventh marqués de Eliche Carpio, 1629 - 1687 (Madrid, Spain)
Source: PI: Carpio inventory (record 609); In his 1651 Madrid inv. no. 146.

-

Artaria and Co. (Vienna, Austria)

- 1868

Count Paul Pavlovitch Demidoff, prince of San Donato, 1839 - 1885 (San Donato (near Florence), Italy) [sold, Demidoff sale, Pillet, Paris, April 18, 1868, lot 13.]

1868 -

Blanche Cachin (Paris, France)

- 1912

Marquise Landolfo Carcano (Paris, France) [sold, Landolfo Carcano sale, Lair-Dubreuil, Paris, May 30, 1912, lot 172.]

- 1921

Charles Léon Cardon, died 1920 (Brussels, Belgium) [sold, Cardon sale, Fiévez, Brussels, June 27, 1921, lot 96.]

- 1992

Private Collection [sold, Christie's, London, December 11, 1992, lot 61 through Otto Naumann, Ltd., New York, to Alfred Bader Fine Arts.]

1992

Alfred Bader Fine Arts (New York, New York), sold through Otto Naumann, Ltd., New York, to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1992.

Exhibitions
Spectacular Rubens: The Triumph of the Eucharist (March 25, 2014 to May 10, 2015) (Fig. 4)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 14, 2014 to January 11, 2015
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, February 15 to May 10, 2015
Bibliography

Rooses, Max. L'Oeuvre de P.P. Rubens (Antwerp: 1888) p. 134.

Martin, Gregory. "Pictures by Rubens." Christie's Review of the Season (1993) pp. 8-9, ill.

"Acquisitions/1993." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 22 (1994) p. 75.

Fredericksen, Burton B., et al. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1995) unpaginated, no. 19, ill., entry by Dawson Carr.

Inaugural Exhibition of Old Master Paintings, exh. cat. (New York: Otto Naumann, Ltd., 1995) p. 195, ill.

"Part II: Paintings Sold in the Past: 1993." in Otto Naumann, Ltd. Inaugural Exhibition of Old Master Paintings, 12 January-1 March 1995. (New York: 1995)

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997) p. 110, ill.

Burke, Marcus B., and Peter Cherry. Collections of Paintings in Madrid, 1601-1755. Maria Gilbert, ed. (Documents for the History of Collecting, Spanish Inventories 1, Los Angeles: 1997) vol. I, p. 472, inv. no. 145, p. 483, no. 43; vol. II, p. 1157, fig. 46.

Fredericksen, Burton B. et al. Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Paintings (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997) pp. 50-51, no. 26, ill., entry by Dawson Carr.

Beckett, Sister Wendy. Sister Wendy's 1000 Masterpieces (London: Dorling Kindersley, 1999) pp. 404-5, ill.

Vergara, Alexander. Rubens and his Spanish Patrons. (Cambridge: 1999) pp. 179, 245, no. 179.

Lyons, Lisa. Departures: 11 Artists at the Getty, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2000) pp. 10-11, 45, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001) p. 113, ill.

Jeromack, Paul. "A Tough Love." Art & Auction 25, no. 2 (February 2003) p. 80, ill.

Zuffi, Stefano. Gospel Figures in Art. Thomas Michael Hartmann, trans. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003) p. 313.

Allen, Denise, et al. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, with Thames & Hudson, 2003) pp. 46-47, no. 23, ill., entry by Dawson Carr.

Elliott, Virgil. Traditional Oil Painting: Advanced Techniques and Concepts from the Renaissance to the Present (New York: Watson-Guptill, 2007) pp. 60-61, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007) p. 107, ill.

Doherty, Tiarna, and Anne T. Woollett. Looking at Paintings: A Guide to Technical Terms. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2009) p. 27, ill.

Woollett, Anne T. "La fe y la gloria: la Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia y el Triunfo de la Eucaristía." In Rubens: El triunfo de la Eucaristía, exh. cat. (Madrid: Museo Nacional del Prado; Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2014) p. 16, fig. 4.

Education Resources

Education Resource

Subjects

Grades

Format

Rembrandt and Rubens Painting the Revolution

Lesson in which students study the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter Reformation, analyzing works by Rubens and Rembrandt.

Visual Arts; History–Social Science

9-12

Two-Part Lesson