At the beginning of June the museumís new collections displays, The Collection Enriched, will be augmented with an altarpiece by Rubens.
This painting from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp is one of the most spectacular of the more than twenty works that are boosting the museum’s own collection over the next three years.
Peter Paul Rubens, the great master of the Flemish Baroque, is represented in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s collection by an exceptionally fine and world-famous group of oil sketches. These studies give an excellent impression of the talent on which his reputation rests. No composition was too difficult for Rubens; no story to complicated for him to paint. And above all: there was no posture or emotion that he was unable to depict to arresting affect.
The altarpiece, which once stood in the Church of the Discalced Carmelites in Antwerp, now in Rotterdam for once only, shows just how impressive Rubens’ finished works are. The devout congregation would have shuddered at the sight of the masterfully painted burning souls in purgatory and would have found solace in the figure of Saint Teresa of Ávila, who successfully pleads with Jesus for the deliverance of these poor souls. The Protestants gave short shrift to purgatory and the Roman Catholic saints – but whoever saw this painting might have begun to doubt the new faith. And that was precisely what the Roman Catholic Church hoped for. This painting by Rubens is visual propaganda of the highest order.’