Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Saint Teresa of Ávila Interceding for Souls in Purgatory

Workshop of Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, Siegen 1577–1640 Antwerp)
Oil on wood
25 1/4 x 19 1/4 in. (64.1 x 48.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
Not on view
The present painting is a reduced workshop version of a large altarpiece painted by Rubens about 1630 to 1633 for the Church of the Discalced Carmelites in Antwerp. The inscription on an engraving by Schelte a Bolswert after Rubens's altarpiece relates the scene to the story of Bernardino de Mendoza, a young Spaniard who had given Saint Teresa land on which to build a convent. Bernardino died before it could be built, and Christ appeared to Saint Teresa informing her that his soul could not be released from Purgatory until the convent was completed. Bernardino appears in Purgatory at the left of the painting.
prince Philippe François de Rubempré, Brussels (until 1765; his sale, Brussels, April 11, 1765, no. 63, for fl. 760); sale, de Winter and Yver, Amsterdam, March 6, 1769, Appendix, no. 1, for fl. 810, to Van Diemen for Braamcamp; Gerret Braamcamp, Amsterdam (1769–d. 1771; his estate sale, Amsterdam, July 31, 1771, no. 195, for fl. 835, to Sasichem); M. van Saceghem, Ghent (by 1830–51; his sale, Le Roy, Brussels, June 2–3, 1851, no. 51, for Fr 22,600, to Patureau); Théodore Patureau, Antwerp (1851–57; his sale, Pillet, Paris, April 20–21, 1857, no. 27, for Fr 16,000, to Blaisel); marquis du Blaisel, Paris (1857–68; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 25, 1868, no. 36, for Fr 16,050, to Gauchez); Leopold II, King of Belgium, Brussels (by 1888–1909; sold to Kleinberger); [Kleinberger, Paris, 1909; sold for £3,000 to Morgan]; J. Pierpont Morgan, New York (1909–d. 1913; his estate, 1913–17)
Gerard Hoet. Catalogus of Naamlyst van Schilderyen, met derzelver prysen, zedert den 22. Augusti 1752 tot den 21. November 1768. Ed. Pieter Terwesten. Vol. 3, The Hague, 1770, p. 399, no. 63, as sold for fl. 760 in the Rubembré sale of 1765.

John Smith. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters. Vol. 2, London, 1830, pp. 22, 188, nos. 76, 662, as in the M. van Sasseghem collection; calls it a finished study by Rubens for the Antwerp altarpiece.

Max Rooses. L'Oeuvre de P. P. Rubens. Vol. 2, Antwerp, 1888, p. 353, as in the collection of the king of Belgium; calls it an old reduced copy of the Antwerp altarpiece, by an accomplished pupil of Rubens.

Georges Lafenestre and Eugène Richtenberger. La Peinture en Europe: La Belgique. Paris, [1895], p. 134.

Émile Michel. Rubens: His Life, His Work, and His Time. London, 1899, vol. 2, p. 152, as a replica of the Antwerp altarpiece that "seems to us . . . wholly by Rubens".

Descriptive Catalogue. Vol. 1, Ancient Masters. Antwerp, 1905, p. 259, under no. 299, calls it an "ancient copy" of the Antwerp altarpiece.

B[ryson]. B[urroughs]. "Recent Loans." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 4 (September 1909), p. 154, as by Rubens; calls it either a sketch for, or a replica of, the Antwerp altarpiece.

W. Roberts. "The King of the Belgians' Collection of Old Masters." Connoisseur 24 (August 1909), p. 207, mistakenly identifies it with the original Antwerp altarpiece.

Wilhelm R. Valentiner. The Art of the Low Countries. English ed. Garden City, N.Y., 1914, p. 189 n., as a copy after the Antwerp altarpiece, not a study for it.

Rudolf Oldenbourg. P. P. Rubens, des Meisters Gemälde. 4th ed. [1st ed. 1905]. Stuttgart, 1921, p. 469, as a sketch for the Antwerp altarpiece.

Robert Eigenberger. Die Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Wien. Vienna, 1927, text vol., p. 343, under no. 649, as an old copy of the Antwerp altarpiece.

W. R. Valentiner. "Rubens' Paintings in America." Art Quarterly 9 (Spring 1946), p. 167, no. 115, as an excellent study by Rubens for the painting in Antwerp; dates it about 1630–33.

Jan-Albert Goris and Julius S. Held. Rubens in America. New York, 1947, p. 53, no. A73, Appendix pl. 3, as a reduced repetition, not by Rubens, of the Antwerp altarpiece.

Margaretta [M.] Salinger. "Representations of Saint Teresa." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 8 (November 1949), pp. 97–98, ill. p. 99, as a reduced workshop copy; identifies the subject as Saint Teresa saving Don Bernardino de Mendoza from purgatory.

Ludwig Burchard in A Loan Exhibition of Works by Peter Paul Rubens, Kt. Exh. cat.London, 1950, p. 7 [see Ref. Liedtke 1984], as a reduced copy of the Antwerp altarpiece.

Erik Larsen. P. P. Rubens. Antwerp, 1952, p. 218, no. 88, as an "excellent and absolutely authentic modello" for the Antwerp altarpiece; calls it a work of the 1630s.

Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann in Olieverfschetsen van Rubens. Exh. cat., Museum Boymans. Rotterdam, 1953, p. 92, under no. 84, as probably a reduced repetition of the Antwerp altarpiece.

Mirella Levi d'Ancona. The Iconography of the Immaculate Conception in the Middle Ages and Early Rennaissance. [New York], 1957, p. 18 n. 32, identifies the subject as Mary Mediatrix, or the Virgin freeing souls from hell or purgatory.

Clara Bille. De Tempel der Kunst of het Kabinet van den Heer Braamcamp. Amsterdam, 1961, vol. 1, p. 128; vol. 2, pp. 47, 116, no. 195, identifies the buyer at Braamcamp's sale of 1771 as J. van Sasichem, and the seller in 1851 as J. van Saceghem; attributes this painting to Rubens himself.

Erwin Panofsky. Problems in Titian, Mostly Iconographic. New York, 1969, p. 41 n. 30, as a reduced replica of the Antwerp picture.

Hans Vlieghe. Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard. pt. 8, vol. 2, Saints. London, [1973], p. 166, under no. 155, as a copy of the Antwerp altarpiece.

Walter A. Liedtke. Flemish Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, vol. 1, pp. 216–20; vol. 2, pl. 82, observes that in spite of weaknesses, the copy is impressive, and must have been produced under Rubens's supervision and, perhaps, with his assistance.

This painting is a good workshop copy of an altarpiece by Rubens, made in the early 1630s for the former church of the Discalced Carmelites in Antwerp, and now in the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp. The theme of the composition is taken from chapter ten of Teresa's "Foundations," in which she describes the founding of her convent of Valladolid on property given by Bernardino de Mendoza. The donor, who died shortly thereafter, before he was able to make a proper confession, was saved from purgatory because Teresa was able to arrange for a mass at the earliest possible moment. Although the source in the "Foundations" is specified in the legend of Schelte à Bolswert's engraving, reproducing the altarpiece in Antwerp, the composition nevertheless is a reflection of Saint Teresa more generally, as an ardent intercessor for souls caught in the flames of purgatory. Vlieghe (1973) catalogues several other versions, including an additional copy of the Antwerp altarpiece on a panel of the same size as the Museum's picture (formerly in the Ellesmere collection, London); two painted copies of the lower part only (Vienna, Akademie der bildenden Künste, and Woronzow sale, Florence, April 23, 1900, no. 518); a drawn copy by Pieter Ykens (Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven); the engraving by Bolswert; and an etching by Philip Spruyt.

The panel has been cradled.
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