RUBENS, Pieter Pauwel (b. 1577, Siegen, d. 1640, Antwerpen)
Descent from the Cross
Oil on panel, 421 x 311 cm (centre panel)
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp
The centre panel of the great triptych shows the Descent from the Cross against a dark sky. Several men - Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, St John and two servants - carefully lower the body of Christ in a brilliant white shroud. They are assisted by several women, including Jesus' mother. Christ's foot rests on the shoulder of Mary Magdalene, who dried his feet with her hair.
The "contract version" of the central panel can be seen in The Courtauld Institute Gallery (Somerset House) in London.