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Gallery Text

Saint Paul was one of the founders of the Catholic Church, and his writings codified many of its doctrines. Both he and Saint Peter were said to have visited Emperor Constantine in his dreams, inspiring his conversion. Rubens’s companion painting of Saint Peter is displayed nearby. The pairing of these saints — also the namesakes of Rubens himself — therefore emphasizes the authority of the Church.

His expression pensive, Paul holds the sword with which he was martyred. His cheeks are blotchy and flushed, and blue veins are visible at his temple. In the center, his beard occasions a passage of rapid brushwork that deploys a range of techniques. Colors are blended directly on the surface, creating a sense of softness and movement; paint is scraped away with the butt of a brush or another tool; and strokes of thick white impasto are interspersed with areas so thinly painted that the ground layer is left visible.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1997.32
People
Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish (Siegen, Westphalia 1577 - 1640 Antwerp, Belgium)
Title
Saint Paul
Classification
Paintings
Work Type
painting
Date
c. 1615
Places
Creation Place: Europe, Netherlands
Culture
Flemish
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/226156
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Oil on panel
Dimensions
65.5 x 48.5 cm (25 13/16 x 19 1/8 in.)
framed: 92.5 x 75 cm (36 7/16 x 29 1/2 in.)
Provenance
?St. Donatus's Church, Bruges. Augustine Monastery of St. Florian, St. Florian, Austria (Chorherrenstift Sankt Florian) (until 1936) sold; to [Galerie Sankt Lucas, Vienna], sold; to [Dr. and Mrs. Rudolf J. Heinemann], (1936-1997) bequest; to Harvard University Art Museums, 1997.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Lore Heinemann in memory of her husband, Dr. Rudolf J. Heinemann
Accession Year
1997
Object Number
1997.32
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
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Publication History

Johannes Hollnsteiner, Das Chorherrenstift St. Florian (Steyr, Austria, 1923), p. 41, repro.

William R. Valentiner, "Rubens' Paintings in America", The Art Quarterly (1946), vol. IX, p. 159, no. 53

Jan-Albert Goris and Julius S. Held, Rubens in America, Pantheon Books (New York and Antwerp, 1947), p. 36, no. 64, pl. 48

Erik Larsen, Peter Paul Rubens, De Sikkel (Antwerp, 1952), p. 216, no. 34

Hans Vlieghe, Saints, I (Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard), Phaidon (London, England and New York, NY, 1972), pp. 68-70, no. 52, repr. as fig. 94

James Cuno, ed., A Decade of Collecting: Recent Acquisitions by the Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, Mass., Spring 2000), pp. 46-47, repr. p. 47

Exhibition History

Calming the Tempest with Peter Paul Rubens, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 12/22/2001 - 03/17/2002

Re-View: S424-426 Western Art from 1560 to 1900, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/16/2008 - 06/18/2011

32Q: 2300 Dutch & Flemish, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 09/08/2017

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu