The Deposition

The Deposition is a painting of the Deposition of Christ by Peter Paul Rubens, created in 1602. The artwork was previously attributed to Van Dyck.


Peter Paul Rubens, considered the genius of European Baroque, worked on this artwork during his first stay in the Eternal City in 1601-1602. He was commissioned to paint three works for the chapel of Sant’Elena in the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in 1601-1602 and the altarpiece for the church of Chiesa Nuova (Santa Maria in Vallicella) in 1606-1608.

Rubens not only left a significant mark on painting in Rome in the first decade of the 17th century but also came into contact with Titian’s artworks, as is shown by different elements in the painting, the provenance of which is unknown, entered the Borghese Gallery much later than the other painting in room II. It was first recorded in the fideicommissum of 1833, in which it was attributed to Anthony van Dyck.

The canvas has been enlarged at both sides, perhaps in order to fit it into a larger frame.


The tomb in the foreground, on which the body of the dead Christ rests, imitates an ancient sarcophagus with bas-reliefs; the funeral genius weeping on the altar and the element of sacrifice are illustrated on one of the short sides, and the part of one of the longer ones. The crown of thorns and nails on the grave also point to the sacrifice of the Son of God.


The painting embodies a great interpretation of the topic of the incarnation of the divine and human nature of Christ, which is between death and potential future life. All colors and shades of light are in flesh tones.

The impact on Rubens by Roman sculptures is evident from the ancient altar with scenes of sacrifices, especially in the high sculptural relief of the figures. The dense color texture of the painting owes to many later works of Titian, and the airy vibrato and gentle rhythms remind the artworks of Correggio. Light, suddenly flashing in the dark area of the painting, suggests that Rubens initially competed with the chiaroscuro experiments of his modern Caravaggio.

Borghese Gallery in Rome,
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Author: Sir Peter Paul Rubens

Peter Paul Rubens

Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) was a Flemish artist. He is considered the most influential artist of the Flemish Baroque tradition. Rubens's exceedingly charged compositions reference intellectual aspects of classical and Christian history. His unique and trendy Baroque style emphasized movement, color, and sensuality, taking after the immediate, dramatic artistic style advanced within the Counter-Reformation. Rubens specialized in making altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and historical depictions of mythological and allegorical subjects.

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