Collection: Defenders of the Eucharist

ARTIST: Museum Religious Art Classics


Artist: Peter Paul Rubens – c. 1625

This artwork depicts seven saints who worked to safeguard and promote the Eucharist. On the left are Saint Ambrose, Saint Augustine and Saint Gregory the Great. In the center is Saint Clare of Assisi, who is given the features of the Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia, Rubens’s patron who commissioned this series. The bareheaded Dominican Saint Thomas Aquinas asserts the doctrine of the Eucharist and its inspiration in the Holy Spirit above. Next to him are Saint Norbert and Saint Jerome, who reads his Vulgate translation of the Bible.

Around 1622-25, Peter Paul Rubens was commissioned by the Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia, Governor of the Southern Netherlands, to design twenty tapestries which would exalt the mystery of the Eucharist for the convent of the Descalzas Reales in Madrid. In the preparation of his designs Rubens painted a number of small oil sketches and also more carefully executed, larger models. Six of these belong to the Museo del Prado. The combination of classical and Christian iconography and the contrast between Good and Evil are central to Rubens’s idiom in these works.