Design a site like this with
Get started

Baroque Art Blog

See the source image
The Descent from the Cross by Peter Paul Rubens (1612 – 16-14)
Retrieved from Wikipedia


Peter Paul Rubens created a baroque oil painting on oak called The Descent from the Cross for the Cathedral of our Lady, in Antwerp (1612 – 1614). Peter Paul Rubens had an important impact of the Catholic-Counter Reformation art after the Council of Trent. Rubens studied many art genres in Italy, such as Carravaggism, Renainssance sculptures, Mannerist statues, and various paintings, which influenced him to create The Descent from the Cross painting. The piece is linked to John 19:38, and is within the guidelines of the Catholic Council of Trent. The image is based upon a group of emotional people arranged around the deceased Jesus Christ. In the image the pale, lifeless body of Jesus Christ is being taken down from the cross, and is assisted by St. John the Evangelist (red cloak), Joseph of Arimathea (left ladder, brown cloak), and Nicodemus (right ladder, black cloak). Included in the image as well is the three Mary’s, his mother Virgin Mary (blue cloak), Mary of Clopas (purple cloak), and Mary Magdalene (green cloak). The men at the tops of the ladders lowering Christ from the cross are two workers. To the right you can see a bowl with a thorn crown inside of it, with the nails of crucifixion, near a pool of blood. It is an intense Biblical scene with a visual image of faithfulness.

The Council of Trent

The painting The Descent from the Cross by Peter Paul Rubens is connected to The Council of Trent because it is based on religion. The churches in Antwerp were not allowed to display any religious paintings until 1585, when Duke Alessandro Farnese requested a Catholic rule over the city, granting the churches permission to decorate once again. The Descent from the Cross by Rubens was a part of the notion that began spreading and recruiting the religion through art. The painting remains in its original spot today, in the Cathedral of our Lady, in Antwerp. The Catholic Counter Reformation art began after the Council of Trent, in which Peter Paul Rubens contributed to with baroque paintings.


For me, The Descent from the Cross portrait by Peter Paul Rubens (1612 – 14) does basically represent religion and faithfulness by including Jesus Christ and his mother the Virgin Mary. I am not really educated in religion that much, therefore that is why I feel this image portrays God and the church greatly. I can see and understand why this image was created and used by the church. The picture is extremely detailed, there is a lot going on, with a ton of curvedness in figures. It isn’t very colorful or bright, and I feel grief and sadness when I look at it. It is clear that everyone in the portrait is faithful to Jesus Christ, as they’re all surrounding him, and lowering him off of the cross. They are all involved. I didn’t notice the thorn crown in the bowl or the nails of crucifixion in the bottom right until I read about it because I was so drawn to the group of figures. The background is very dark, but it almost looks as if its a sunset and clouds. Each figure looks very real. Jesus Christ who is placed in the center of the image is illuminated, making it clear that he is the main focus of the painting. The image has a lot of meaning to it, especially depending on your religion. I see why this oil painting was used by the Cathedral as a symbol showing how the people are supposed to follow and be faithful to Jesus Christ. I honestly wouldn’t own a copy of this piece, it is incredible work, but I am not that religious, therefore I don’t really relate to it.


See the source image
The Ghent Altarpiece, The Virgin Mary by Jan Van Eyck (1432) Retrieved from Wikipedia

For the comparison to a Renaissance art piece I chose, The Ghent Altarpiece, The Virgin Mary created by Jan Van Eyck (1432). This is a section of a religious oil painting on wood from the Northern Renaissance. I chose to compare/relate this painting to The Descent from the Cross by Rubens because they’re both religious, and they both include The Virgin Mary. Since both of the paintings are religious, they tie into each other. Each painting is from an era when religion was being spread. I honestly think The Ghent Altarpiece, The Virgin Mary by Eyck is gorgeous. The detail, texture, and tone of it is amazing. The entire painting as a whole, The Ghent Altarpiece, is insane because there is just so much to it. I think that the two paintings are similar, even though they were created so many years apart. They somewhat have same style and techniques. They’re both oil paintings, on wood, too.


Descent from the Cross (1612-14) by Rubens. Interpretation of Catholic Counter-Reformation Painting. Retrieved from:

Catholic Counter-Reformation Art. Retrieved from:

Hickson, Sally. Van Eyck, The Ghent Altarpiece. Khan Academy. Retrieved from:


3 thoughts on “Baroque Art Blog

  1. I love how you organized the analysis of this post its very easy to read both your opinion and learn about the art itself. I also think it’s great/helpful that you broke down the different meanings behind several elements of the “The Descent from the Cross” piece. I think it’s very unique that the “The Descent from the Cross” was done on oak since thats not very common nowadays. It’s also great to see both artist interpretation of Mary in such different but similar ways.


  2. The Ruben’s painting is really intense. The way he paints the expressions, the drapery on the clothes, the way the bodies are almost twisted with sorrow, but trying to take care with the body makes it a pretty powerful. The Ghent painting expresses something completely different, and Mary looks so at peace. I enjoyed reading your reactions to the paintings.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Even though I am religious myself, it’s hard to look at the painting Rubens. The limp body of Jesus… I feel so sad when I see it. The care with which the other people handle His body is so comforting.
    I’m glad you chose these two paintings and I liked reading your opinion on them! Keep up the good work! ^^


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: