«The resurrection of Jesus» by Rubens

Today we will dive into details of «The resurrection of Jesus» by Rubens, restored by Stefano Garosi.

«The resurrection of Jesus»
Pieter Paul Rubens

Today we will dive into details of «The resurrection of Jesus» by Rubens, restored by Stefano Garosi – our Professor of  Restoration and Conservation.

Stefano Garosi is a well-known active restorer of paintings and frescoes in Florence. He restored the works of Raffaello, Georgio Vasari, San Gallo, Masters of Vasari school, Rubens as well as innumerable works of public and private artistic property. He also participated in a restoration of the pictorial decorations of the Ducal Palace of Genoa. Garosi restored and then followed the maintenance of both the ancient and modern works from “Caesar Brandi” collection in Siena. Stefano Garosi also took part in restoration of Santa Maria degli Angiolini collection in Florence, National Picture gallery of Siena and worked for the supervisions of Siena, Genoa, Perugia, Cagliari and Arezzo.

Stefano Garosi with the students of St. Petersburg Art Academy in Florence

“The resurrection of Jesus”

Date: 1615-1616 ca
Artist: Pieter Paul Rubens, Siegen, 1577 – Anversa, 1640
Technique /Material: Oil on canvas
Size: 192 × 157,3 cm
Provenance: collection of the Great Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici
Collocation: Florence, Galleria Palatina, Palazzo Pitti (Inv. OdA Pitti n. 479)
Author of the article in a catalogue: Anna Bisceglia
Restoration: Stefano Garosi in a collaboration with Anna Bisceglia

This painting by Rubens is known under different names, such as ‘The Easter Tomb,’ ‘Christ Resurrected,’ ‘The Resurrection of Christ,’ ‘The Triumph of Christ over Death and Sin,’ and ‘Resurrected Christ Triumphant.’ The reason for these alternative names is that Rubens created several other paintings based on this original version.

Christ Triumphant over Sin and Death, 1615/1622
Peter Paul Rubens

This painting is a part of a conspicuous group of Rubens works exhibited in the Florentine collections – in Palatine Gallery and Uffizi. Medici had a particular interest for the painter from Antwerp, as we can see from a family’s collection of absolute masterpieces such as the «Three Graces» belonged to the cardinal Leopoldo dè Doctors, the «Self-portrait» sent by the Elettore Palatino to Cosimo III in 1713,  «Madonna della cesta», stored in the rooms of the Great Prince Ferdinando together with a great gem «Consequences of the war».

Madonna della Cesta,
Peter Paul Rubens

«The resurrection of Jesus» also belongs to Great Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici collection. It is shown here after an accurate restoration that has allowed the consolidation of the pictorial matter and the oxidised removal of the paints, returning legibility to the rich chromatic gamma that constitutes one of the greatest merits of the work wisely played on the interlacement of fast brushstrokes and on the contrast between the hot tonality of alight red ones and the coldest nuances of white and green meats and the blue of sky. The painting mentioned in the inventory of the pictures of Pitti Palace drafted between 1697 and 1708 like «Christ with a club in hand and a white cloth behind his head, that is held by an angel dressed in red with a kneel knee on the called grave and two angels in the air holding a curtain, all full-scale whole figures».

Subsequently in the post mortem inventory of the Great Prince (1713) – with all the probability it was a gift of Elettore Palatino to the brother-in-law Ferdinando according to an interesting hypothesis of Marco Chiarini, based on the correspondence between two relatives in January and April 1696. In fact, in this correspondence Elettore Palatino informs the Great Prince of having obtained Rubens’s important painting for him and receiving a positive feedback in this matter.

«Rubens gives us a triumphant image, which remains in our imaginations not only because of the grandeur of a perfect body, inspired both by Michelangelo’s bare figure in a Sistine Chapel and the ancient statuary, but also for the extraordinary ability to manage colors in order to enrich every object represented. We can admire the expressive strength of the Jesus’ gaze and the richness of chromatic passages of all the figures. On the tomb you can see some ears of wheat, on which until just before rested the deposed: they are an ancient symbol that in Greek myths symbolized the rebirth and the Nature that awakens after a long winter hibernation. Wheat is a gift of God, symbol of the alternating seasons and of the work of man. This alludes, by extension, to the Eucharistic celebration, and to the host, which is distributed to the believers»[1].

[1] https://www.uffizi.it/en/online-exhibitions/easter-2019#42

The theme of the Resurrection of Christ was faced by Rubens several times, starting from a great painting prepared for the cenotaph of a typographer and Flemish bookseller Jan Moretus, carried out between 1611 and 1612 in the Cathedral of Onze Lieve Vrouw to Antwerp.

Other versions, chronologically more recent, are held in Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts and in collection De Clercq to Antwerp, in which the firm and imperious position of Christ, who recalls that one of an ancient statue of Jupiter, reflects the study upon the ancient ripened in the Italian years. Further variations are stored in Potsdam, Chateau de Sans Souci.


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