Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577–1640)
The Entombment, c. 1612–14
Oil on panel, 34 3/4 x 26 1/8 in.
(88.3 x 66.5 cm)
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Purchased 1956
Rubens painted this homage to Caravaggio’s celebrated monumental altarpiece of the same subject after he returned to his home of Antwerp following his years in Rome. He slightly altered the composition to clarify the action of lowering Christ’s body into the tomb. He also modified the figures’ gestures, taming their expressions of grief. The result is more decorous, suggesting that Rubens shared the view that Caravaggio’s art was too unrefined and raw. Rubens’s painting is also quite different in execution from Caravaggio’s. Although it is a finished work, he treats it with a freedom closer to a sketch, and the fluid handling of paint is extraordinarily accomplished. Rubens subtly transformed his model, assimilating Caravaggio’s work to his own artistic vision.
Click on the image to see the full painting.