© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

In June 1610, the priest and wardens of the Antwerp parish of Saint Walburga ordered a monumental altarpiece from Rubens for the high altar of their church. The centerpiece of the enormous ensemble was a triptych with the Elevation of the Cross depicted on its central panel. This drawing is a study for the head, arms, and torso of Christ in the Elevation of the Cross. Apart from the addition of the beard, crown of thorns, and blood streaming from the wounds in Jesus’ hands, Rubens followed the study closely, albeit on the scale of the altarpiece, where the figure exceeds life size. His meticulous preparation extended even to the tip of Christ’s own left thumb, which he drew separately in the upper right corner of the sheet because he ran out of space for the whole hand.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish (Siegen, Westphalia 1577 - 1640 Antwerp, Belgium)
A Study for Christ for "The Elevation of the Cross"
Work Type
Physical Descriptions
Black and white chalk and charcoal on light gray antique laid paper discolored to tan
40.3 x 29.8 cm (15 7/8 x 11 3/4 in.)
framed: 63.5 x 52.1 cm (25 x 20 1/2 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • watermark: Fragment of a hunting horn; unidentified
  • collector's mark: verso, lower left, blue ink, stamp: L. 1442 (Joseph Daniel Böhm)
  • stamp: former mat, in curatorial file, black ink, stamp, French: [circular stamp with text in the center and around the circumference] [circumference] BECKETTE PART[illegible] GARE ST LAZARE [center, illegible]
Possibly Jacob de Wit, Amsterdam, sold; [De Leth and Van Schorrenbergh, Amsterdam, 10-11 March 1755, possibly Book C, lots 21-27]. Simon Fokke, Amsterdam, sold; [Amsterdam, Van der Schley et al., 6 December 1784, kb E, lot 401.] Dirk Versteegh, Amsterdam, sold; [De Vries et al., Amsterdam, 3 November 1823, lot 35 or lot 37]; to Samuel Woodburn (if lot 35) or De Ruiter (if lot 37). Joseph Daniel Böhm, Vienna (Lugt 1442), sold; [Alexander Posonyi, Vienna, 4 December 1865, lot 1416], sold; to [Posonyi (bought in)]. Werner Weisbach, Berlin. [Goudstikker, Amsterdam], sold; to Meta and Paul J. Sachs, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1922, gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1949

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Meta and Paul J. Sachs
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

The Vasari Society for the Reproduction of Drawings by Old Masters, Oxford University Press (NY) and Oxford University Press (UK) (Oxford, England, 1905 - 1935), first series, part VIII, n.p., no. 22, repr. pl. 22

Gustav Glück, "Rubens' Kreuzaufrichtungsaltar", Belgische Kunstdenkmäler, Paul Clemen (Munich, 1923), vol. 2, pp. 161-84, p. 172

Gustav Glück and Franz Martin Haberditzl, Die Handzeichnungen von Peter Paul Rubens, Julius Bard (Berlin, Germany, 1928), cat. no. 61, p. 35, repr. pl. 61

Robert Allerton Parker, "Notes on Drawings at the Fogg Museum", The International Studio (January 1930), vol. 95, no. 392, pp. 36-40, p. 38, repr. p. 39

Gustav Glück, "Rubens' Kreuzaufrichtungsaltar", Rubens, Van Dyck, und ihr Kreis, Verlag A. Schroll & Co., g.m.b.h. (Vienna, Italy, 1933), pp. 56-81, 381-383, pp. 70 and 381 (n. e)

Master Drawings, Selected from the Museums and Private Collections of America, exh. cat., Buffalo Fine Arts Academy/Albright Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY, 1935), cat. no. 40, n.p., repr.

An Exhibition of Sixty Paintings and Some Drawings by Peter Paul Rubens, exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, MI, 1936), cat. no. Drawings 5, n.p.

Fogg Art Museum Handbook, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1936), p. 150, repr.

Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate International Exposition, Art: Official Catalogue, exh. cat., The Recording Printing and Publishing Company, H.S. Crocker Co., Inc., and Schwabacher-Frey Co. (San Francisco, 1940), cat. no. 490, p. 98

Agnes Mongan and Paul J. Sachs, Drawings in the Fogg Museum of Art, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, 1940), vol. 1, cat. no. 483, pp. 250-251, repr. vol. 2, fig. 249

Annemarie Henle, Master Drawings: An Exhibition of Drawings from American Museums and Private Collections, exh. cat., Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate International Exposition (San Francisco, 1940), cat. no. 91, p. 23, repr. p. 56, fig. 91

A Special Exhibition of Drawings from the Fogg Museum of Art, exh. cat., Speed Memorial Museum (Louisville, KY, 1947), cat. no. 17

Hans Tietze, European Master Drawings in the United States, J. J. Augustin, Inc. (New York, 1947), cat. no. 60, pp. 120-21, repr.

Jan-Albert Goris and Julius S. Held, Rubens in America, Pantheon Books (New York and Antwerp, 1947), cat. no. 104, p. 42, repr. pl. 109

Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition of the Art of Europe during the XVIth - XVIIth Centuries, exh. cat., Worcester Art Museum (1948), cat. no. 42, p. 35

Paul J. Sachs, The Pocket Book of Great Drawings, Pocket Books, Inc. (New York, 1951), pp. ix and 66-67, repr. pl. 42

Werner R. Deusch, Die Aktzeichnung in der Europäischen Kunst, Brüder Auer Verlag (Bonn, 1952), cat. no. 46, p. 23, repr. p. 86, fig. 46

An Exhibition of Dutch and Flemish Drawings and Watercolors, checklist, Unpublished (1954), cat. no. 14, p. 3

Jakob Rosenberg, "Review: Rubens' Oil Sketches and Drawings in the Fogg Museum", Art Quarterly (Summer 1956), vol. 19, pp. 138-43, p. 142

Agnes Mongan, Drawings & Oil Sketches: Rubens from American Collections, exh. cat., President and Fellows of Harvard College (Cambridge, MA, 1956), cat. no. 8, pp. 14-15, repr. pl. III

Dr. Ludwig Burchard and Roger A. d'Hulst, Tekeningen van P.P. Rubens, exh. cat., Uitgeverij Ontwikkeling (Antwerp, 1956), cat. no. 34, pp. 47-48, repr. pl. XI

Arthur Millier, The drawings of Rubens, Borden Publishing Company (Los Angeles, 1957), repr. p. 42

Agnes Mongan, "The Fogg Art Museum's Collection of Drawings", Harvard Library Bulletin, Harvard University (Cambridge, 1958), vol. 3, no. 2, March, pp. 5-9, p. 200

Günter Aust, “Entwurf und Ausführung bei Rubens", Walraf-Richartz Jahrbuch, M. DuMont Schauberg (Cologne, 1958), vol. 20, pp. 163-212, p. 168 (n. 11)

Bernard Myers, ed., Encyclopedia of World Art, McGraw-Hill Book Company (New York, 1959-1987), vol. 16 (Supplement), p. 203, fig. 227

Julius S. Held, Rubens Selected Drawings, Phaidon Press (London, 1959), vol. 1, under cat. no. 76, p. 129

Masterpieces: A Memorial Exhibition for Adele R. Levy, exh. cat., Wildenstein Gallery, New York (New York, 1961), cat no. 67, repr.

Otto Benesch, Jan Gerrit van Gelder, and Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, Great Drawings of All Time [vol. 2: German, Flemish and Dutch], ed. Ira Moskowitz, Shorewood Publishers Inc. (New York, 1962), cat. no. 521, repr.

Dr. Ludwig Burchard and Roger A. d'Hulst, Rubens Drawings, Arcade Press (Brussels, 1963), vol. 1, cat. no. 55, pp. 94-96, repr. vol. 2, fig. 55

Agnes Mongan, Memorial Exhibition: Works of Art from the Collection of Paul J. Sachs [1878-1965] : given and bequeathed to the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, exh. cat., Harvard University (Cambridge, MA, 1965), cat. no. 19, n.p., repr., and p. 207

Justus Müller Hofstede, "Review: L. Burchard and R.-A. d'Hulst: Rubens Drawings", Master Drawings (1966), vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 435-454, pp. 435 and 445

John Rupert Martin, Rubens: The Antwerp Altarpieces, W. W. Norton & Company (New York, 1969), p. 42, repr. fig. 14

John Rupert Martin, "Rubens's Jupiter and Cupid: An Exhibition at Princeton", Apollo (October 1971), vol. 94, no. 116, pp. 277-79, p. 278

John Rupert Martin, ed., Rubens before 1620, exh. cat., Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ, 1972), cat. no. 8, pp. 139 and 160-61, repr.

Mrs. Colles Baxter Larkin, "Rubens: A Variety of Interests" (unpublished manuscript, Fogg Art Museum, 1974). Typewritten brochure that accompanied the exhibition of the same title at the Fogg Art Museum, 23 May - 30 June 1974., no. 15, n.p.

Yuri Kuznetsov, Risunki Rubensa, Iskusstvo (Muscow, 1974), pp. 11 and 14, repr. pl. 28

Roxane Landers Althouse, ed., Rubenism, exh. cat., Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, 1975), cat. no. 15, pp. 56-57, repr.

Curtis Carter, "Art and Religion: A Transreligious Approach", Arts in Society (Spring/Summer 1976), vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 154-78, repr. p. 162

Marianne Bernhard, ed., Rubens Handzeichnungen, Südwest Verlag GmbH & Co. (Munich, 1977), p. 204, repr.

Konrad Oberhuber, European Master Drawings of Six Centuries from the Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., National Museum of Western Art (Tokyo, 1979), cat. no. 43, n.p., repr. pl. 43

Julius S. Held, The Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ, 1980), vol. 1, under cat. no. 349, p. 480

Hans Kauffmann, "Formen der Begegnung in der Bildkunst von Rubens", Peter Paul Rubens: Werk und Nachraum, Wilhelm Fink (Augsburg, 1981), pp. 69-88, pp. 75 and 87 (n. 14)

Terisio Pignatti and Maria Agnese Chiari Moretto Wiel, Il disegno: da Altamira a Picasso, A. Mondadori (Milan, 1981), p. 213, repr. p. 212

Nathan Goldstein, A Guide to 100 American and European Drawings: A Portfolio, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1982), repr. pl. 96

Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), cat. no. 269, p. 231, repr.

Julius S. Held, Rubens Selected Drawings, Moyer Bell Limited (Mt. Kisco, NY, 1986), under cat. no. 55, p. 91

Catherine Whistler and Jeremy Wood, ed., Rubens in Oxford: an Exhibition of Drawings from Christ Church and the Ashmolean Museum, exh. cat., P. & D. Colnaghi & Co. Ltd. (London, 1988), under cat. no. 3, p. 26

Charles Scribner, III, Peter Paul Rubens, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, 1989), p. 19, repr. fig. 26

Anne-Marie Logan, Flemish Drawings in the Age of Rubens: Selected Works from American Collections, exh. cat., University of Washington Press (Seattle, WA and London, England, 1993), cat. no. 42, pp. 30, 41, 184-5, repr. pl. 42

Elizabeth M. Kornhauser, American Paintings before 1945 in the Wadsworth Atheneum, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT, 1996), vol. 2, under cat no. 323, p. 546 (n. 6)

Ulrich Heinen, Rubens zwischen Predigt und Kunst. Der Hochaltar für die Walburgenkirche in Antwerpen, Verlag Und Datenbank Für Geisteswissenschaften (Weimar, 1996), pp. 133, 234 (n. 14), and 326 (n. 323, n. 326, n. 331, n. 332, and n. 333)

Kristin Lohse Belkin, Rubens, Phaidon (London, England, 1998), p. 128, repr. p. 130, fig. 85

J. R. Judson, Rubens The Passion of Christ, Harvey Miller/Brepols Publishers (Turnhout, Belgium, 2000), cat. no. 20c, pp. 99-100, repr. fig. 66 and under cat. no. 20b, p. 99

Will South, Color, Myth, and Music: Stanton Macdonald-Wright and Synchromism, exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh, N.C., 2001), p. 75, repr. p. 77, fig. 64

Nathan Goldstein, Figure Drawing: The Structure, Anatomy, and Expressive Design of the Human Form [6th Edition], Prentice Hall (Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2004), p. 135, repr. fig. 4.24

Klaus Albrecht Schröder, ed., Peter Paul Rubens, exh. cat., Albertina (Vienna, 2004), cat. no. 28, pp. 22, 33, 61, 94, 106, 111, 210, and 214, repr. p. 61, fig. 39 and p. 211, Kat. 28

Anne-Marie Logan and Michiel C. Plomp, Peter Paul Rubens: The Drawings, exh. cat., Metropolitan Museum of Art / Yale University Press (New York/New Haven and London, 2004), cat. no. 37, pp. 10, 25, 51, 55, 58 (n. 93), 149-151, and 155 (n. 4), repr. p. 151, and frontispiece (detail)

Gregory Rubinstein, "[Review] Peter Paul Rubens. The Drawings", HNA Review of Books (http://www.hnanews.org/archive/2005/11/logan.html, November, 2005)

Stephan Wolohojian and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, ed. Stephan Wolohojian, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, 2008), p. 94, repr.

Stijn Alsteens, [Review] William W. Robinson, with Susan Anderson, "Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums", Master Drawings (Winter 2015), LIII, no. 4, pp. 531-534, p. 532

Colleen Walsh, Drawing Power: Harvard Art Museums exhibit a showcase for masterworks in progress, Harvard Gazette ([online], May 19, 2016), http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2016/05/drawing-power/, accessed May 23, 2016

William W. Robinson and Susan Anderson, Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums, Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2016), p. 15, 23, 256; cat. no. 74, pp. 250-252, repr. p. 251; watermark p. 380

Franklin Einspruch, Fuse Visual Art Review: A Pair of Drawing Shows at the Harvard Art Museums, The Arts Fuse ([e-journal], June 9, 2016), http://artsfuse.org/146319/fuse-visual-arts-review-a-pair-of-drawing-shows-at-the-harvard-art-museums/, accessed June 9, 2016

Exhibition History

Master Drawings, Selected from the Museums and Private Collections of America, Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, Buffalo, 01/01/1935 - 01/31/1935

An exhibition of sixty paintings and some drawings by Peter Paul Rubens, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, 02/13/1936 - 03/15/1936

Master Drawings: An Exhibition of Drawings from American Museums and Private Collections, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, 01/01/1940 - 12/31/1940

Art: Official Catalogue, Palace of Fine Arts, Mexico City, 01/01/1940 - 12/31/1940

A Special Exhibition of Drawings from the Fogg Museum of Art, Speed Memorial Museum, Louisville, KY, 03/02/1947 - 03/30/1947

Drawings from the Fogg Museum of Art, Harvard University (Collected by Paul J. Sachs), Century Club, New York, 05/12/1947 - 09/25/1947

Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition of the Art of Europe during the XVIth-XVIIth Centuries, Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, 01/01/1948 - 12/31/1948

An Exhibition of Dutch and Flemish Drawings and Watercolors, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/01/1954 - 04/30/1954

Drawings & Oil Sketches by P. P. Rubens from American Collections, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 01/14/1956 - 02/29/1956; Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, 03/20/1956 - 04/28/1956

Tekeningen van P.P. Rubens, Rubenshuis, 06/16/1956 - 09/02/1956

Masterpieces: A Memorial Exhibition for Adele R. Levy, Wildenstein Gallery, New York, New York, 04/06/1961 - 05/07/1961

Memorial Exhibition: Works of Art from the Collection of Paul J. Sachs [1878-1965] Given and Bequeathed to the Fogg Art Museum Harvard University Cambridge, Massachusetts, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 11/15/1965 - 01/15/1966; Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York, 12/19/1966 - 02/26/1967

Rubens before 1620, Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, 01/01/1972 - 12/31/1972

Rubens: A Variety of Interests, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 05/23/1974 - 06/30/1974

Rubenism, David Winton Bell Gallery, Providence, 01/30/1975 - 02/23/1975

European Master Drawings of Six Centuries from the Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 11/03/1979 - 12/16/1979

Flemish Drawings in the Age of Rubens, Davis Museum at Wellesley College, Wellesley, 10/15/1993 - 11/28/1993; Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, 01/04/1994 - 02/20/1994

Calming the Tempest with Peter Paul Rubens, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 12/22/2001 - 03/17/2002

Peter Paul Rubens: The Drawings, Albertina, Vienna, 09/14/2004 - 12/05/2004; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 01/15/2005 - 04/03/2005

Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/21/2016 - 08/14/2016

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu