The Descent from the Cross

1611 - 1614


This triptych is a sublime altarpiece. As such, it is rightfully considered one of the most famous paintings of the baroque and of Flemish heritage as a whole. It is regarded as exemplary of Rubens’s painting style.


Attention is drawn three times to the spiritual meaning of the name Christopher in this painting. The name Christopher means the one who bears Christ. The legend of St. Christopher is painted in one scene across the two outer wings.


The centre panel focuses on the tragic instant in which Christ’s body is taken from the cross and is borne to its grave by his followers.


On the left wing, Mary who is pregnant with Jesus, visits her old cousin Elisabeth, who is pregnant with St. John the Baptist in The Visitation. On the right wing, Jesus is also carried in The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.




Oil on panel

centre panel: 421 x 311 cm

wings: 421 x 153 cm

Antwerp, Cathedral of Our Lady