Peter Paul Rubens, De seculiere hiërarchie in aanbidding, ca. 1625

Recently, curator and Rubens expert Friso Lammertse of Museum Boijmans van Beuningen presented an oil sketch by Peter Paul Rubens to a panel of fellow experts. The sketch, a design by Rubens for a tapestry, was thought to be lost.

Friso Lammertse: “The oil sketches that Rubens made for the Triumph of the Eucharist tapestry series are some of the finest in his oeuvre. It was one of the biggest projects of his career.”

Seventeen of the oil sketches made for the series of twenty tapestries were known. This can now be added as the eighteenth. It is a key part of the series since it depicts four leading figures of early seventeenth-century Europe: kneeling in front is Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II (1578-1637). Kneeling behind him are Spain’s King Philip IV (1605-1665), his consort Elizabeth of France (1603-1644) and in cloistral habit, the patron of the series: sovereign of the Netherlands Isabella of Spain (1566-1633).

While part of the painting has been painted over, the detail of the style and palette are recognisably Rubens. The dimensions are also equivalent to those of other oil sketches in the series. Conclusive proof came with the infrared photo commissioned by the owner. This shows that the title of the work is written in the ground below the surface paint, as is also the case in some of the other oil sketches in the series. Moreover, the photo reveals that the painting was originally made on panel, like the other oil sketches. It was only later transferred to canvas.

More information

Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)
The Secular Hierarchy in Adoration
Panel transferred to canvas
66 x 46 cm
c. 1625
Private collection, via Hoogsteder & Hoogsteder