The Elevation of the Cross (Rubens)

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The Elevation of the Cross
Peter Paul Rubens - Raising of the Cross - 1610.jpg
Artist Peter Paul Rubens
Year 1610–11
Medium Oil on wood
Dimensions 462 cm × 341 cm (182 in × 134 in)
Location Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp

The Elevation of the Cross (also called The Raising of the Cross)[1] is a triptych painting by Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens, completed in 1610-1611.

Peter Paul Rubens painted The Elevation of the Cross after returning to Flanders from Italy. The work shows the clear influence of Italian Renaissance and Baroque artists such as Caravaggio, Tintoretto and Michelangelo. The central panel illustrates a tension between the multitude of massively muscled men attempting to lift the cross and the seemingly unbearable weight of Christ on the cross.

View of the whole triptych
Paintings at outside of wings

Peter Paul Rubens' foreshortening is evident in the contortions of the struggling, strapping men. Christ cuts across the central panel in a diagonal, stylistically akin to Caravaggio's Entombment where both descent and ascent are in play at a key moment. Motion, space and time are illustrated along with the struggle to upright the cross. Rubens uses dynamic color and chiaroscuro boldly, a style that would become more subtle with time.

The painting is located at the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium, along with other Rubens works. It was commissioned by the church to express their allegiance with Catholicism, after the split of the Protestants. Under Napoleon's rule, the emperor took the painting, along with Peter Paul Rubens' The Descent from the Cross, to Paris. The paintings were returned to the cathedral in 1815.[1]


  1. ^ a b Dunton, Larkin (1896). The World and Its People. Silver, Burdett. p. 164.