The Elevation of the Cross , Peter Paul Rubens


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The Elevation of the Cross, painted by Peter Paul Rubens, is a significant Baroque artwork depicting the crucifixion of Christ. It comprises a large triptych in Antwerp's Cathedral of Our Lady and a smaller version in the Art Gallery of Ontario. The painting reflects Rubens's mastery in combining intense Baroque style with biblical accuracy, influenced by ancient sculptures and Italian Renaissance artists.


  • Artwork Description:

    • The Elevation of the Cross consists of a large triptych and a smaller version painted by Peter Paul Rubens in 1610-1611 and 1638, respectively.
    • The original is in the Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp, and the smaller version is in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada.
  • Commission and History:

    • Commissioned by the Church of St. Walburga in Antwerp, the triptych was funded by Cornelis van der Geest and later taken to Paris under Napoleon's rule.
    • The paintings were returned to Antwerp in 1815 and placed in the Cathedral of Our Lady due to the destruction of the original church.
  • Visual Analysis:

    • The altarpiece showcases an early Baroque style, with a dark and intense setting depicting the crucifixion scene.
    • The central panel emphasizes the tension between the men lifting the cross and the weight of Christ, portraying his suffering and willingness to sacrifice.
    • Surrounding scenes include the preparation of thieves for execution and the response of women on the road to Christ's plea for forgiveness.
  • Iconography and Symbolism:

    • The artwork adheres to the Council of Trent's guidelines for biblical representation, emphasizing the victorious nature of Christ's death.
    • Rubens contrasts Christ's plea for forgiveness with ancient depictions of divine vengeance.
  • Influences:

    • The work shows influences from ancient sculptures (Laocoon, Niobids, Farnese Bull) and Italian Renaissance/Baroque artists such as Caravaggio, Tintoretto, and Michelangelo.
    • Rubens employs foreshortening and tenebrism, reflecting the influence of Caravaggio, and Christ's form is reminiscent of Michelangelo's nude figures.
  • Artistic Process:

    • Rubens led a workshop responsible for the creation, with pupils and assistants playing crucial roles.
    • The creative process involved a modello (oil sketch) for approval, live models for figure positioning, and assistants executing the final painting.
  • Smaller Version:

    • The smaller oil on paper version, painted in 1638, is a modified reproduction of the triptych, now in the Art Gallery of Ontario.
    • Differences include color accents, changes in the landscape, and the elimination of frames for a more cohesive scene.

This analysis reveals The Elevation of the Cross as a masterpiece blending artistic skill, religious symbolism, and historical context. Rubens's work reflects a synthesis of diverse influences, creating a powerful depiction of the crucifixion.

Available as a fine art print and as a stretched canvas panel (heavy fine art canvas stretched over 1.5 inch deep edge solid wood frame)

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All prints are made using archival art stocks and UV pigment inks to give up to 200 years life. Prints are sold unframed and unmounted.


All orders for unframed fine art prints and original paintings are dispatched within 2 working days of receipt of payment.

Orders for custom framed prints are dispatched within 4 working days.

All orders are fully tracked from dispatch to delivery at your home or business.

All print and original painting orders are fully insured against loss or damage in transit. We refund or replace any damaged or lost orders.

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Size and Printed Materials

Fine art papers are printed without any additional white border Please let us know at the time of ordering if you would like a small additional white border.

Rolled canvas options have an additional white border of approximately 2.5 inches (7cm) on all 4 sides to aid stretching.

Ready to hang canvas panels are stretched on 1.5 inch deep solid pine frames from sustainable forestry sources. The image is mirrored on all 4 sides to give an aesthetically pleasing finish.

Gift Wrap Option

Why not have us gift wrap your order and attach a personalised message to the recipient. Available for all orders. Each order is hand wrapped in high quality gift wrap with meatllic ribbon and bow. Your personalised message is printed on a card which is included with your order.

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Framing Options - Instructions

We have a wide range of frames in standard sizes and we also make custom size frames.

To order a framed print:

1. select the print size you would like along with the print materials (matte paper, fine art paper).

2. Add your print choice to the basket.

3. Choose from our range of frames

4. Select the same size as the print you have added to your basket. If the frame size you want is not listed please contact us

5. Choose from the mount or no-mount option

6. Add your frame choice to the basket

7. Proceed to checkout.

Why Choose GalleryThane?

  • Printed and framed in-house
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  • Free EU and USA delivery on orders over £200
  • Tracking and insurance included in every order
  • Fast 1-3 day dispatch
  • Gift wrapping service available
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