The Descent from the Cross’ by Peter Paul Rubens (1612 – 1614)

Religious art often serves as a soul stirring visual prayer book.  It draws the believer to seek a spiritual awakening. This is best exemplified by the works of the ‘King of the Dutch painters – Peter Paul Rubens.’ He was born in Siegen in 1577 and made Antwerp his home in 1589.

A brilliant painter of international reputation, he was also a humanist scholar, an antiquarian, an architect and a polished diplomat. He was knighted by both Phillip IV of Spain and Charles I of England.

In the 16th century, Antwerp in northern Belgium, was racked by civil war. The Dutch Republic (Calvinist) soon took over the Spanish (Catholic) controlled Antwerp resulting in the dawn of iconoclasm (the destruction of religious images). But in 1609 a 12 year truce was signed and the economy began to recover. Catholicism was reintroduced and so was religious art.

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