The Conversion of Saint Paul Series at the Courtauld: Rubens’s Artistic Process Revealed by New Technical Discoveries

Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London

The Courtauld Gallery has three works by Peter Paul Rubens depicting the Conversion of Saint Paul, all dated to ca. 1610–1612: a compositional drawing, an oil sketch, and a finished painting. The serendipitous survival of these works provides insight into Rubens’s creative process and has long been a topic of discussion for art historians. Recent technical study and improved imaging techniques have highlighted Rubens’s extremely fluid approach to the development of the design and revealed complex reworkings of all three compositions. These findings suggest a much longer gestation of these ideas than the 1610–1612 date proposed, and they cast light on Rubens’s broader working practice and his ceaseless striving for aesthetic perfection, combined with a pragmatic approach to the reuse and reworking of his compositions. Building on research done by E. Melanie Gifford, the complex changes revealed by X-ray; by infrared, transmitted, and raking light; and by microscopic examination can be explored using enhanced image tools and navigation. Readers can compare works of art with each other and with their technical images using the “IIIF multi-mode viewer” to better understand Rubens’s artistic exploration of ideas and aid their own research.

DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2021.13.1.1

Acknowledgements

The research for this article was undertaken while Clare Richardson and Kate Stonor were Caroline Villers Research Fellows at The Courtauld Institute of Art. A further grant from The Courtauld Institute of Art enabled this work to be presented using new digital tools. We are particularly indebted to David Jaffé for his insightful discussions of the findings of our technical study, and to Melanie Gifford for her generosity in sharing her research on The Fall of Phaeton with us and suggesting that our work might also find a home at the Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art. We are grateful to the anonymous peer reviewers and to Karen Serres for their careful reading of our draft and helpful suggestions on how we could improve it. The authors are grateful for the support of colleagues in the Department of Conservation and Technology at The Courtauld, particularly Robert Bruce-Gardner, who undertook x-radiography of the panels. Initial infrared reflectography was undertaken using an OSIRIS camera supplied by Opus Instruments, now ATIK cameras. Subsequent infrared imaging to create the images used in this publication was carried out with the help of Silvia Amato. All SEM-EDX analysis was undertaken at the National Gallery, London, which very generously allowed the authors access to equipment and comparative samples and records. Our colleagues at The Courtauld Gallery—Graeme Barraclough, Caroline Campbell, Stephanie Buck, Karen Serres, Julia Blanks, Katharine Lockett, and Kate Edmondson—kindly arranged access to the objects and discussed the findings of our examinations with us. Particular thanks are owed to Kate Dooley and colleagues at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, for sharing with us, and training us to use, software developed by them for image registration. Jennifer Henel’s tireless enthusiasm, advice, and expertise allowed us to integrate the image registration software into the article in an innovative way to properly illustrate and clarify our findings.

Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 1 Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting), ca. 1610–1612, oil on oak panel, 95.2 x 120.7 cm. The Courtauld Gallery, London, Bequest of Antoine (Count) Seilern (artwork in the public domain) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (oil sketch), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 2 Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (oil sketch), ca. 1610–1612, oil on oak panel, 57.4 x 78.1 cm. The Courtauld Gallery, London, Bequest of Antoine (Count) Seilern (artwork in the public domain) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (preparatory drawing), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 3 Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (preparatory drawing), ca. 1610–1612, pen and brown ink with wash and white bodycolor on paper, 32.9 x 22.2 cm. The Courtauld Gallery, London, Bequest of Antoine (Count) Seilern (artwork in the public domain) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul, ca. 1599-1601, The Princely Collections, Vaduz-Vienna, Liechtenstein
Fig. 4 Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul, ca. 1599–1601, oil on panel, 72 x 103 cm. © Liechtenstein, The Princely Collections, Vaduz-Vienna (Scala, Florence / Art Resource, NY) [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul, ca. 1610-1612, University of Oxford, Ashmolean Museum
Fig. 5 Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul, ca. 1621, oil on panel, 32.8 x 45.8 cm. University of Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, Bequeathed by Percy Moore Turner 1957, WA1957.59.1 [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Defeat of Sennacherib, ca. 1617, oil on panel, Alte Pinakothek, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich
Fig. 6 Peter Paul Rubens, The Defeat of Sennacherib, ca. 1617, oil on panel, 97.7 x 122.7 cm. Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 7 Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (oil sketch), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 8 Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 2) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
X-ray (portrait), Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (oil sketch, The Courtauld Museum of Art, London
Fig. 9a X-ray (rotated in portrait format) of  The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 2) [side-by-side viewer]
Infrared reflectogram (portrait, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (oil sketch), The Courtauld Museum of Art, London
Fig. 9b Infrared reflectogram (rotated in portrait format) of The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 2) [side-by-side viewer]
Marco Dente Da Ravenna, Venus Wounded by the Rosebush (engraving), 1515-1520, The British Museum, London
Fig. 10 Marco Dente da Ravenna after Raphael, Venus Wounded by the Rosebush, 1515–1520, engraving on paper, 26.1 x 17.1 cm. The British Museum, London, Bequeathed by Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode, 545939001 (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Judgement of Paris, 1597-1599 oil on panel, National Gallery, London
Fig. 11 Peter Paul Rubens, The Judgement of Paris, 1597–1599, oil on oak panel, 133.9 x 174.5 cm. The National Gallery, London, bought 1966, NG6379 [side-by-side viewer]
Roman, Aphrodite or Crouching Venus, 2nd century AD, The Royal Collection Trust, London
Fig. 12 Roman, Aphrodite or “Crouching Venus, second century AD, marble, 125 x 53 x 65 cm. London, The Royal Collection Trust, RCIN 69746 (artwork in the public domain). Formerly in the Gonzaga Collection, Mantua [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, Susanna and the Elders, about 1606, Galleria Borghese, Rome
Fig. 13 Peter Paul Rubens, Susanna and the Elders, about 1606, oil on canvas, 94 x 67 cm. Galleria Borghese, Rome (artwork in the public domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5160230) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 14 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 2), detail, rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise, showing the barely covered paint of the head and shoulders of the female figure of the underlying composition [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (preparatory drawing), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 15 Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Rubens, IRR detail of watermark, The Conversion of Saint Paul (preparatory drawing), The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 16 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), transmitted IRR detail of watermark. © Tager Stonor Richardson [side-by-side viewer]
Transmitted Light, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (preparatory drawing), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 17 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), transmitted light [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Rubens, transmitted light, detail, The Conversion of Saint Paul (preparatory drawing), The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 17a Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), transmitted light detail of camel and rider on the verso of the sheet flipped left to right to show original orientation [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 18a Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), detail of the edge of the larger paper addition showing a leg, partially erased with bodycolor, protruding from beneath the added sheet seen in ordinary light  [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 18b Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), detail of the erased middle ground figure who appears to be leaping onto the camel train [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 18c Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), detail of the man attending the saint erased with bodycolor in ordinary light [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Composite IRR, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (preparatory drawing), The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 19 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), image processed to show first composition, combined transmitted and ordinary light [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, Battle of the Greeks and Amazons, ca. 1602-04, drawing, pen and brown ink, over graphite, The British Museum, London
Fig. 20 Peter Paul Rubens, Battle of the Greeks and Amazons, ca. 1602–04, pen and brown ink, over graphite, 25.1 x 42.8 cm. The British Museum, London, 1895,0915.1045. © The Trustees of the British Museum [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 21 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Conversion-drawing-det-fallenfiguregroup_rev
Fig. 22 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), detail of fallen saint figure group [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 23 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), X-ray detail of fallen saint figure group [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 24 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), IRR detail of camel train and rider beneath the sky and landscape of the final design [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 25 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), composite IRR and X-ray detail of camel train and rider [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 26 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), detail of camel train and rider [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, Adoration of the Magi, 1609, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
Fig. 27 Peter Paul Rubens, Adoration of the Magi, 1609 and reworked 1628–1629, oil on canvas, 355.5 x 493 cm. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, P001638. © Museo Nacional del Prado (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
Infrared Reflectogram, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting), The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 28 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), infrared reflectogram [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 29a

Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph detail (A2) from the sky showing the dark, azurite-containing paint applied over the lighter, ultramarine sky in broad brushstrokes that do not conform closely to the cloud forms at the left edge. The shape of the brushstrokes suggests the use of a flathead brush typically used for spreading paint quickly and evenly.

[IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 29b Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph detail (A3) of impastoed paint to create the hair of the cherubic angel dragged over the bright, ultramarine sky. Thin scumble of darker, azurite-containing sky paint can be seen to the right of the angel’s hair and particularly at the top of the image. [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 30 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), detail of central horse group [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 31 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), X-ray detail of central horse group [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 32 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), detail of central horse group [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 33 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph detail (A25) of the raised hoof of the rearing dapple-gray horse showing the azurite sky paint brushed across the paint of the foreleg, indicating the order of painting with the dark sky paint added later. [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 34 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph detail (A26) of the foreleg of the rearing dapple-gray horse showing the azurite sky and gray drapery loosely painted up to and over the white foreleg, indicating that the adjacent horse and rider with gray drapery were added later in the painting process, after the change to the sky. [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 35 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), detail of the rider at the far left [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 36 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), X-ray detail of the rider at the far left [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, Study for the Adoration of the Shepherds, 1606-1608, drawing, Amsterdam Museum, Fodor Collection
Fig. 37 Peter Paul Rubens, Study for the Adoration of the Shepherds, 1606–1608, pen on paper, 14.0 x 15.2 cm. Amsterdam Museum, Fodor Collection, TA 18134 depicting a turbaned figure with an upturned face similar to the one painted out in the Conversion. (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 38 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), IRR detail of the painted-out turbaned figure [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 39 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), IRR detail of Saint Paul’s horse [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 40a Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph (A20) detail of Saint Paul’s left sleeve showing the blue drapery brushwork is applied over a paler, yellow costume. [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 40b Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph (A23) detail of the overpainted dagger of the initial composition now visible through the saint’s right arm due to the increased transparency of the upper paint. [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 40c Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph (A24) of Saint Paul’s face showing the particularly brief, schematic brushwork used to denote the facial features. [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 40d Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph (A42) of Saint Paul’s right hand, indicated with a few simple strokes of flesh-colored paint showing the remarkable brevity of the final, reworked position of the saint. [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 41 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph detail (A38) of drying cracks [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 42 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), detail of fallen saint’s attendants’ group [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 43 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), raking light detail of the figure group around Saint Paul [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 44 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), IRR detail of fallen saint’s attendants [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 45 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph (A22) of drying cracks visible in the back of the dog, suggesting an alteration to the contour. [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 46 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph (A48) of detail of the yellow drapery visible beneath the gray paint of the rearing horse, indicating the rider was initially depicted with his leg over the horse. [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 47 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), IRR detail of the tussling horses [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 48 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), visible-light detail of Christ and putti [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 49 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), X-ray detail of Christ and putti [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 50 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), X-ray showing thin wooden addition strips added to the top and bottom edges of the panel support [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 51 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), panel reverse in raking light showing the “notches” cut into the vertical edges of the support [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 52 Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Defeat of Sennacherib, ca. 1617, oil on panel, Alte Pinakothek, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich
Fig. 53 Peter Paul Rubens, The Defeat of Sennacherib, ca. 1617, oil on panel, 97.7 x 122.7 cm. Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Death of Maxentius. ca. 1622, oil on oak panel, The Wallace Collection, London
Fig. 54 Peter Paul Rubens, The Battle of the Milvian Bridge and The Death of Maxentius, 1620, oil on oak panel, 38.3 x 64.5 cm. The Wallace Collection, London, P520. Wikimedia Commons   [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, A Lion Hunt, ca. 1614-1615, The National Gallery, London
Fig. 55 Peter Paul Rubens, A Lion Hunt, ca. 1614–1615, oil on panel, 73.6 x 105.4 cm. The National Gallery, London, bought 1871 (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
Annotated, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 56 Annotated image with microphotographs, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting) ca. 1610–1612, oil on oak panel, 95.2 x 120.7 cm, The Courtauld Gallery, London, Bequest of Antoine (Count) Seilern (artwork in the public domain) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (final painting), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 57 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
X-ray, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 58 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), X-ray [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
IRR, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 59 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), infrared reflectogram [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (oil sketch), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 60 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 2) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
X-ray, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (oil sketch), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 61 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 2), X-ray [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
IRR, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (oil sketch), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 62 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 2), infrared reflectogram [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (preparatory drawing), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 63 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Composite IRR, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (preparatory drawing), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 64 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3),  image processed to show first composition, combined transmitted and ordinary light [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Transmitted Light,Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul, ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 65 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), transmitted light [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
  1. 1. Damon M. Conover, John K. Delaney, and Murray H. Loew, “Automatic Registration and Mosaicking of Technical Images of Old Master Paintings,” Applied Physics A 119 (2015): 1567–75, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00339-015-9140-1.

  2. 2. For a discussion of the dating of this panel, see E. Melanie Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution: Material Evidence in The Fall of Phaeton,” Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 11, no. 2 (Summer 2019): paragraphs 25–26 and 51, https://doi.org/10.5092/jhna.2019.11.2.1.

  3. 3. See E. Melanie Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution: Material Evidence in The Fall of Phaeton,” Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 11:2 (Summer 2019) DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2019.11.2.1

  4. 4. Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution.”

  5. 5. Julius Held, The Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens: A Critical Catalogue (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980), 578.

  6. 6. The role of the oil sketch within Rubens’s practice is discussed in “Rubens Presents. . . . The Origin and Formulation of the Painted Sketch,” in Friso Lammertse and Alejandro Vergara, Rubens, Painter of Sketches, exh. cat. (Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, and Rotterdam: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, 2018), 11–31, particularly 31n60, which discusses the term modello. A useful discussion of the evolution of terminology used for oil sketching in reference to Rubens’s use of preparatory works across a variety of media can be found in Linda Bauer and George Bauer, “Artists’ Inventories and the Language of the Oil Sketch,” Burlington Magazine 141, no. 1158 (September 1999): 520–30.

  7. 7. Count Antoine Seilern, Flemish Paintings and Drawings at 56 Princes Gate London (London: Shenval Press, 1955), 34–40.

  8. 8. Seilern, Flemish Paintings and Drawings, 34–40.

  9. 9. Julius Held, Rubens: Selected Drawings with an Introduction and a Critical Catalogue (Oxford: Phaidon, 1986), 93–94.

  10. 10. Held, The Oil Sketches, 579.

  11. 11. Held, The Oil Sketches, 579.

  12. 12. David Freedberg, Rubens: The Life of Christ after the Passion, Corpus Rubenianum 7 (London: Harvey Miller Ltd., 1984), 121–22.

  13. 13. See, for example, “Commission and Design: Written Sources on Rubens’s Sketches,” in Lammertse and Vergara, Painter of Sketches, 33–53.

  14. 14. See, for example, Arnout Balis, ““Fatto da un mio discepolo”: Rubens’s Studio Practices Reviewed,” in Rubens and His Workshop: The Flight of Lot and His Family From Sodom, ed. Toshiharu Nakamura, exh. cat. (Tokyo: National Museum of Western Art, 1994), 97–127.

  15. 15. A version of the Raphael/Marco Dente engraving was also engraved by Johannes Wierix in 1563 as Venus After Her Bath with Cupid; see cat. no. 1901 in Hollstein’s Dutch and Flemish Etchings: Engravings and Woodcuts, 1450–1700, vol. 67, The Wierix Family, part 9 (Belgium: Sound and Vision Publishers BV, 2004), 12–13. We are grateful to David Jaffé for drawing our attention to this source, which demonstrates the transmission of the Raphael prototype to Northern Europe. The Wierix engraving has a more muscular, heavyset Venus, with a differently placed left arm and knee, suggesting that Rubens drew upon the Marco Dente version.

  16. 16. The attribution of Adam and Eve to Rubens has been much discussed: d’Hulst and Vandenven give the work to Rubens in their discussion of his Old Testament subjects for the Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, while Jeremy Wood prefers an attribution to Rubens’s teacher, Otto Van Veen himself. See Roger-Adolf D’Hulst and M. Vandenven, Rubens: The Old Testament, Corpus Rubenianum 3 (London: Harvey Miller Ltd., 1989), 35–37, and Jeremy Wood, Rubens: Copies and Adaptations from Renaissance and Later Artists, Italian Artists, I. Raphael and his School. Corpus Rubenianum 26 (London: Harvey Miller Ltd., 2010), 35. For discussion of The Judgement of Paris, see David Jaffé et al., Rubens, A Master in the Making, exh. cat. (London, National Gallery, 2005), 11.

  17. 17. See the discussion of this painting in Jaffé et al., Master in the Making, 78–79, fig. 80.

  18. 18. Gerlinde Gruber with Geert van der Snkt, Stijn Legrand, and Koen Janssen, “Variations on the Theme of the Goddess of Beauty,” in Gerlinde Gruber, Sabine Haag, Stefan Weppelmann, and Jochen Sander, eds., Rubens: The Power of Transformation, exh. cat. (Munich: Hirmer, 2017), 79–85.

  19. 19. The suggestion that the painting traveled with Rubens hinges on whether the upper painting was made from the Michelangelo original, then in Fontainbleau, or was rather derived from a print from the painting or its cartoon. See cat. no. 30 in Jaffé et al., Master in the Making, 96. Wood feels that the painting was executed in Antwerp and that Rubens could not have seen the original work; see Wood, Copies and Adaptations from Renaissance and Later Artists, 35.

  20. 20. Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution,” paragraph 33, and Hans Devisscher and Hans Vlieghe, Rubens: The Life of Christ before the Passion: The Youth of Christ, Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard 5 (1), trans. Beverly Jackson (Turnhout: Brepols, 2014), 57–59.

  21. 21. Pierre Génard, P. P. Rubens: Aanteekeningen over den grooten Meester en zijne bloedverwanten (Antwerp, P. Kockx, 1877), 373.

  22. 22. David Rosen and Julius Held, “A Rubens Discovery in Chicago,” The Journal of the Walters Art Gallery 13/14 (1950–1951): 76–91.

  23. 23. SEM-EDX (scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive X-ray analysis) indicated that the intensely-colored green earth was a celadonite type, giving a spectra of Si, Fe, K, Mg, Al, known to come from Monte Baldo, near Verona. See Nicholas Eastaugh, Valentine Walsh, Tracey Chaplin, and Ruth Siddall, The Pigment Compendium: A Dictionary and Optical Microscopy of Historical Pigments (Amsterdam: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, 2008), 95, which may link to Rubens’s travels to Mantua. No green earth was found in any of the other works by Rubens in the Courtauld collection. See discussion of the use of local pigments in paragraph 45 and 46 and supports and primings in paragraph 24 of Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution.”

  24. 24. See, for example, cat. no. 6 in Lammertse and Vergara, Painter of Sketches, 68.

  25. 25. We are grateful to Victoria Button for her comments and advice on this watermark. We checked the watermark against those listed in Burchardt and d’Hulst, Rubens Drawings.

  26. 26. We are grateful to Jane Rutherston, senior book conservator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, for her advice on this topic. A quarto bound book is made up of full sheets of paper folded twice to produce sheets one-fourth of the original paper size. See “The Shape of Paper,” website of the Institut d’histoire du livre, particularly the table that comprises fig. 4, accessed January 11, 2021, http://ihl.enssib.fr/en/paper-and-watermarks-as-bibliographical-evidence/the-shape-of-paper. This book would have been half the size of Rubens’s Costume Book, which was made up from similarly sized sheets, folded only once, rather than twice, to create the book.

  27. 27. The two remaining sewing holes may have been the more bulky kettle stitches at top and bottom, which might have been sewn in. We are grateful to Kate Edmondson and Katharine Lockett, paper conservators at The Courtauld Gallery, and Bryan Clarke, visiting conservator, for their observations.

  28. 28. Held, Rubens: Selected Drawings, 94.

  29. 29. Kristin Lohse Belkin, The Costume Book. Corpus Rubenianum 24 (Brussels: Arcade, 1978), 47. Belkin discusses the Costume Book and concludes that it was drawn on loose sheets and subsequently bound together into a sketchbook.

  30. 30. Dimensions of both the Hippolytus and Conversion of Saint Paul drawings are given in Held, Rubens: Selected Drawings, 93.

  31. 31. Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution,” paragraph 5.

  32. 32. A deckle edge refers to the uneven or feathered edge on a sheet of paper produced by a handmade technique. The word “deckle” refers to the wooden frame around the sieve used to hold the fibers when they are lifted out of the water during the papermaking process. The irregular edge is formed when the fibers from the paper pulp slurry seep under the deckle frame and is an unavoidable artifact of the process. Single sheets of paper could be cut down to remove the deckle edge and produce a straight, smooth edge, but this might be seen as costly or wasteful unless the offcuts could be reused, as might be the case here.

  33. 33. We are grateful to James Stevenson for his advice on image processing techniques.

  34. 34. Seilern, Flemish Paintings and Drawings, 34–40.

  35. 35. Ian Tyers, dendrochronological consultancy report 422, April 2011, records of The Courtauld Gallery.

  36. 36. Freedberg, The Life of Christ, 114, and Held, Selected Drawings, 94.

  37. 37. Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution,” paragraphs 7–8. 

  38. 38. Freedberg, The Life of Christ, 116.

  39. 39. Held, Rubens: Selected Drawings, 84 (cat. no. 43).

  40. 40. Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution.”

  41. 41. Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution,” paragraph 30.

  42. 42. Held, The Oil Sketches, quoted in the entry for The Conversion of Saint Paul in Freedberg, The Life of Christ, 115.

  43. 43. For example, the Courtauld’s Landscape by Moonlight (1635–1640) in Helen Braham and Robert Bruce-Gardner, “Rubens’s ‘Landscape by Moonlight,’” The Burlington Magazine 130, no. 1025 (August 1988), 579–96. See also Christopher Brown, Making & Meaning: Rubens’s Landscapes (London: National Gallery, 1996); C. Brown, A. Reeve, and M. Wyld, “Rubens’ ‘The Watering Place,’“ National Gallery Technical Bulletin 6 (1982): 26–39; and George Bisacca, “Rubens’s Puzzle,” in Gruber et all, The Power of Transformation, 102–9.

  44. 44. Rubens is known to have used panel makers to extend his compositions; the National Gallery, London, has found instructions to the panel maker under the sky in Sunset Landscape with a Shepherd and his Flock, 1638. See Brown, Making & Meaning, 121.

  45. 45. Thanks to Graeme Barraclough for this suggestion. See the discussion of carpentry in Bisacca, “Rubens’s Puzzle,” 105.

  46. 46. Nico Van Hout and Arnout Balis, Rubens Unveiled: Notes on the Master’s Painting Technique, exh. cat. (Antwerp: Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, 2012), 42.

  47. 47. A Shepherd with His Flock in a Woody Landscape, ca. 1620, for example, has a thinner priming layer on the extensions. See Brown, Making & Meaning, 117.

  48. 48. Something also recently observed on the extensions to the Wallace Collection’s Rainbow Landscape; see Lucy Davis with Simon and Thomas Bobak and Michaela Straub, “The Making of the Two Great Landscapes,” in Rubens: The Two Great Landscapes, ed. Lucy Davis (London: Philip Wilson Publishers, 2020), 68–69.

  49. 49. d’Hulst and Vandenven, The Old Testament, 152 (cat. no. 47).

  50. 50. Hubert Von Sonnenberg, “Rubens’ Bildaufbau und Technik, I: Bildträger, Gruniereung un Vorskizzierung.” Maltechnik Restauro 85, no. 2 (1979): 6.

  51. 51. d’Hulst and Vandenven, The Old Testament, 152 (cat. no. 47).

  52. 52. Translated by the authors with assistance from Anne Puetz, from the Italian text in Rubens’s letter of May 12, 1618, to Dudley Carleton, in Rooses, Correspondance de Rubens, 2:149–50. The hunting scene offered for sale in this letter is listed in the previous letter, dated April 28, 1618 (p. 140), where it is described as “started by one of his pupils . . . after a painting made for the Duke of Bavaria” but “all retouched by his own hand.” The initial Wolf and Fox Hunt acquired by Carleton in 1617 was a cheaper version after a larger work sold to the Duke of Aarschot, acquired after he was unable to afford the prime version (see Arnout Balis, Rubens: Hunting Scenes, Corpus Rubenianum 18 [2] [London: Harvey Miller Ltd., 1986], 98, cat. no. 2). George Gage thought the quality of Carleton’s Wolf and Fox Hunt very high, considering it to be by Rubens’s hand and commenting: “The hunting peece of Rubens in my opinion is excellent, and perhaps preferable to the first, because when a Master doth a thing the second time, lightly it is for the better” (George Gage to Sir Dudley Carleton, November 1, 1617, in Rooses, Correspondance de Rubens, 2:119–20). However, Balis considers the most likely candidate for Carleton’s painting to be a studio work retouched by the artist version (see Balis, Hunting Scenes, 106–7, cat. no. 2b).

  53. 53. See Rooses’s commentary on Rubens’s letter to Sir Dudley Carleton dated April 28, 1618, discussing works he identifies as Prometheus Bound (ca. 1611–1612, now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art), Saint Sebastian (ca. 1614, now in the Staatliche Museen, Berlin) and Daniel and the Lions (ca. 1614–1616, now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington) in Rooses, Correspondance de Rubens, 2:140–144.  

  54. 54. The revisions identified were undertaken in two stages, probably in Italy and, later, in Antwerp. See Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution.” The image viewer allows comparison between mockups of the different compositional stages (fig. 38).

  55. 55. See discussion of the two works as potential pendants, as suggested by Michael Jaffé, in Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution.”

  56. 56. See Christopher Brown’s argument in J. Plesters, “‘Samson and Delilah’: Rubens and the Art and Craft of Painting on Panel,” National Gallery Technical Bulletin 7 (1983): 30–49.

  57. 57. Translated from the Italian by the authors with assistance from Anne Puetz, in Rubens’s letter of May 12, 1618, to Dudley Carleton, in Rooses, Correspondance de Rubens, 2:149.

Balis, Arnout. Rubens: Hunting Scenes. Corpus Rubenianum 18 (2). London: Harvey Miller Ltd., 1986.

-. “”Fatto da un mio discepolo”: Rubens’s Studio Practices Reviewed,” in Rubens and His Workshop: The Flight of Lot and His Family From Sodom, ed. Toshiharu Nakamura, 97–127. Exh. cat. Tokyo: National Museum of Western Art, 1994.

Bauer, Linda, and George Bauer. “Artists’ Inventories and the Language of the Oil Sketch,” Burlington Magazine 141, no. 1158 (September 1999): 520–30.

Belkin, Kristin Lohse. The Costume Book. Corpus Rubenianum 24. Brussels: Arcade, 1978.

Braham, Helen, and Robert Bruce-Gardner. “Rubens’s ‘Landscape by Moonlight.’” Burlington Magazine 130, no. 1025 (August 1988): 579–96.

Brown, Christopher. Making & Meaning: Rubens’s Landscapes. London: National Gallery, 1996.

Brown, C., A. Reeve, and M. Wyld. “Rubens’ ‘The Watering Place.’” National Gallery Technical Bulletin 6 (1982): 26–39.

Burchard, Ludwig, and Roger-Adolf d’Hulst. Rubens Drawings. Brussels: Arcade, 1963.

Conover, Damon M., John K. Delaney, and Murray H. Loew. “Automatic Registration and Mosaicking of Technical Images of Old Master Paintings.” Applied Physics A 119 (2015): 1567–75, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00339-015-9140-1.

Davis, Lucy, with Simon and Thomas Bobak and Michaela Straub. “The Making of the Two Great Landscapes,” in Rubens: The Two Great Landscapes, edited by Lucy Davis, 65–82. London: Philip Wilson Publishers, 2020.

Devisscher, Hans, and Hans Vlieghe. Rubens: The Life of Christ before the Passion: The Youth of Christ. Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard 5 (1). Translated by Beverly Jackson. Turnhout: Brepols, 2014.

Eastaugh, Nicholas, Valentine Walsh, Tracey Chaplin, and Ruth Siddall. The Pigment Compendium: Optical Microscopy of Historical Pigments. Amsterdam: Elsevier Butterworth Heinemann, 2008. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780080473765

Freedberg, David. Rubens: The Life of Christ After the Passion. Corpus Rubenianum 7. London: Harvey Miller Ltd., 1984.

Génard, Pierre. P. P. Rubens: Aanteekeningen over den grooten Meester en zijne bloedverwanten. Antwerp: P. Kockx, 1877.

Gifford, E. Melanie. “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution: Material Evidence in The Fall of Phaeton.” Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 11, no. 2 (Summer 2019) https://doi.org/10.5092/jhna.2019.11.2.1.

Gruber, Gerlinde, Sabine Haag, Stefan Weppelmann, and Jochen Sander, eds. Rubens: The Power of Transformation. Exh. cat. Munich: Hirmer, 2017.

Held, Julius. The Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens: A Critical Catalogue. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980.

-. Rubens: Selected Drawings with an Introduction and a Critical Catalogue. 2nd ed. Oxford: Phaidon, 1986.

Henel, Jennifer. “JHNA’s Enhancements (or ‘JHNA 2.0’).” Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 11, no. 2 (Summer 2019), https://doi.org/10.5092/jhna.2019.11.2.2.

Hill, Robert, and Susan Bracken. “The Ambassador and the Artist: Sir Dudley Carleton’s Relationship with Peter Paul Rubens: Connoisseurship and Art Collecting at the Court of the early Stuarts.” Journal of the History of Collections 26, no. 2 (July 2014): 171–91. https://doi.org/10.1093/jhc/fht042

Hollstein’s Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts, ca. 1450–1700. Vol. 67, The Wierix Family, part 9. Belgium: Sound and Vision Publishers BV, 2004.

Van Hout, Nico, and Arnout Balis. Rubens Unveiled: Notes on the Master’s Painting Technique. Exh. cat. Antwerp: Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, 2012.

d’Hulst, Roger-Adolf and M. Vandenven. Rubens: The Old Testament. Corpus Rubenianum 3. London: Harvey Miller Ltd., 1989.

Jaffé, David, Elizabeth McGrath, Amanda Bradley, Ulrich Heinen, Veronika Kopecky, and Delfina Bergamaschi. Rubens: A Master in the Making. Exh. cat. London: National Gallery, 2005.

Lammertse, Friso, and Alejandro Vergara. Rubens: Painter of Sketches. Exh. cat. Madrid: Museo Nacional del Prado, and Rotterdam: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, 2018.

Plesters, J. “‘Samson and Delilah’: Rubens and the Art and Craft of Painting on Panel.” National Gallery Technical Bulletin 7 (1983): 30–49.

Rooses, Max. Correspondance de Rubens et Documents Épistolaires Concernant sa Vie et ses Oeuvres. Vol. 2. Antwerp: Jos. Maes, 1898.

Rosen, David, and Julius Held. “A Rubens Discovery in Chicago.” The Journal of the Walters Art Gallery 13/14 (1950–51): 76–91.

Seilern, Count Antoine. Flemish Paintings and Drawings at 56 Princes Gate London. London: Shenval Press, 1955.

Von Sonnenburg, Hubert. “Rubens’ Bildaufbau und Technik, I: Bildträger, Gruniereung un Vorskizzierung.” Mahltecknik Restauro 85, no. 2 (1979): 77–100.

Vlieghe, Hans. Rubens: Portraits of Identified Sitters Painted in Antwerp. Corpus Rubenianum 19 (2). London: Harvey Miller Ltd., 1987.

Wood, Jeremy. Rubens: Copies and Adaptations from Renaissance and Later Artists, Italian Artists, I. Raphael and His School. Corpus Rubenianum 26. London: Harvey Miller Ltd., 2010. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8357.2010.01096_8.x

List of Illustrations

Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 1 Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting), ca. 1610–1612, oil on oak panel, 95.2 x 120.7 cm. The Courtauld Gallery, London, Bequest of Antoine (Count) Seilern (artwork in the public domain) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (oil sketch), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 2 Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (oil sketch), ca. 1610–1612, oil on oak panel, 57.4 x 78.1 cm. The Courtauld Gallery, London, Bequest of Antoine (Count) Seilern (artwork in the public domain) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (preparatory drawing), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 3 Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (preparatory drawing), ca. 1610–1612, pen and brown ink with wash and white bodycolor on paper, 32.9 x 22.2 cm. The Courtauld Gallery, London, Bequest of Antoine (Count) Seilern (artwork in the public domain) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul, ca. 1599-1601, The Princely Collections, Vaduz-Vienna, Liechtenstein
Fig. 4 Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul, ca. 1599–1601, oil on panel, 72 x 103 cm. © Liechtenstein, The Princely Collections, Vaduz-Vienna (Scala, Florence / Art Resource, NY) [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul, ca. 1610-1612, University of Oxford, Ashmolean Museum
Fig. 5 Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul, ca. 1621, oil on panel, 32.8 x 45.8 cm. University of Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, Bequeathed by Percy Moore Turner 1957, WA1957.59.1 [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Defeat of Sennacherib, ca. 1617, oil on panel, Alte Pinakothek, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich
Fig. 6 Peter Paul Rubens, The Defeat of Sennacherib, ca. 1617, oil on panel, 97.7 x 122.7 cm. Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 7 Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (oil sketch), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 8 Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 2) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
X-ray (portrait), Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (oil sketch, The Courtauld Museum of Art, London
Fig. 9a X-ray (rotated in portrait format) of  The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 2) [side-by-side viewer]
Infrared reflectogram (portrait, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (oil sketch), The Courtauld Museum of Art, London
Fig. 9b Infrared reflectogram (rotated in portrait format) of The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 2) [side-by-side viewer]
Marco Dente Da Ravenna, Venus Wounded by the Rosebush (engraving), 1515-1520, The British Museum, London
Fig. 10 Marco Dente da Ravenna after Raphael, Venus Wounded by the Rosebush, 1515–1520, engraving on paper, 26.1 x 17.1 cm. The British Museum, London, Bequeathed by Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode, 545939001 (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Judgement of Paris, 1597-1599 oil on panel, National Gallery, London
Fig. 11 Peter Paul Rubens, The Judgement of Paris, 1597–1599, oil on oak panel, 133.9 x 174.5 cm. The National Gallery, London, bought 1966, NG6379 [side-by-side viewer]
Roman, Aphrodite or Crouching Venus, 2nd century AD, The Royal Collection Trust, London
Fig. 12 Roman, Aphrodite or “Crouching Venus, second century AD, marble, 125 x 53 x 65 cm. London, The Royal Collection Trust, RCIN 69746 (artwork in the public domain). Formerly in the Gonzaga Collection, Mantua [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, Susanna and the Elders, about 1606, Galleria Borghese, Rome
Fig. 13 Peter Paul Rubens, Susanna and the Elders, about 1606, oil on canvas, 94 x 67 cm. Galleria Borghese, Rome (artwork in the public domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5160230) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 14 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 2), detail, rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise, showing the barely covered paint of the head and shoulders of the female figure of the underlying composition [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (preparatory drawing), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 15 Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Rubens, IRR detail of watermark, The Conversion of Saint Paul (preparatory drawing), The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 16 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), transmitted IRR detail of watermark. © Tager Stonor Richardson [side-by-side viewer]
Transmitted Light, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (preparatory drawing), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 17 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), transmitted light [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Rubens, transmitted light, detail, The Conversion of Saint Paul (preparatory drawing), The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 17a Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), transmitted light detail of camel and rider on the verso of the sheet flipped left to right to show original orientation [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 18a Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), detail of the edge of the larger paper addition showing a leg, partially erased with bodycolor, protruding from beneath the added sheet seen in ordinary light  [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 18b Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), detail of the erased middle ground figure who appears to be leaping onto the camel train [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 18c Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), detail of the man attending the saint erased with bodycolor in ordinary light [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Composite IRR, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (preparatory drawing), The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 19 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), image processed to show first composition, combined transmitted and ordinary light [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, Battle of the Greeks and Amazons, ca. 1602-04, drawing, pen and brown ink, over graphite, The British Museum, London
Fig. 20 Peter Paul Rubens, Battle of the Greeks and Amazons, ca. 1602–04, pen and brown ink, over graphite, 25.1 x 42.8 cm. The British Museum, London, 1895,0915.1045. © The Trustees of the British Museum [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 21 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Conversion-drawing-det-fallenfiguregroup_rev
Fig. 22 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), detail of fallen saint figure group [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 23 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), X-ray detail of fallen saint figure group [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 24 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), IRR detail of camel train and rider beneath the sky and landscape of the final design [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 25 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), composite IRR and X-ray detail of camel train and rider [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 26 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), detail of camel train and rider [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, Adoration of the Magi, 1609, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
Fig. 27 Peter Paul Rubens, Adoration of the Magi, 1609 and reworked 1628–1629, oil on canvas, 355.5 x 493 cm. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, P001638. © Museo Nacional del Prado (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
Infrared Reflectogram, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting), The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 28 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), infrared reflectogram [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 29a

Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph detail (A2) from the sky showing the dark, azurite-containing paint applied over the lighter, ultramarine sky in broad brushstrokes that do not conform closely to the cloud forms at the left edge. The shape of the brushstrokes suggests the use of a flathead brush typically used for spreading paint quickly and evenly.

[IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 29b Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph detail (A3) of impastoed paint to create the hair of the cherubic angel dragged over the bright, ultramarine sky. Thin scumble of darker, azurite-containing sky paint can be seen to the right of the angel’s hair and particularly at the top of the image. [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 30 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), detail of central horse group [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 31 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), X-ray detail of central horse group [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 32 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), detail of central horse group [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 33 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph detail (A25) of the raised hoof of the rearing dapple-gray horse showing the azurite sky paint brushed across the paint of the foreleg, indicating the order of painting with the dark sky paint added later. [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 34 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph detail (A26) of the foreleg of the rearing dapple-gray horse showing the azurite sky and gray drapery loosely painted up to and over the white foreleg, indicating that the adjacent horse and rider with gray drapery were added later in the painting process, after the change to the sky. [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 35 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), detail of the rider at the far left [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 36 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), X-ray detail of the rider at the far left [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, Study for the Adoration of the Shepherds, 1606-1608, drawing, Amsterdam Museum, Fodor Collection
Fig. 37 Peter Paul Rubens, Study for the Adoration of the Shepherds, 1606–1608, pen on paper, 14.0 x 15.2 cm. Amsterdam Museum, Fodor Collection, TA 18134 depicting a turbaned figure with an upturned face similar to the one painted out in the Conversion. (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 38 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), IRR detail of the painted-out turbaned figure [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 39 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), IRR detail of Saint Paul’s horse [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 40a Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph (A20) detail of Saint Paul’s left sleeve showing the blue drapery brushwork is applied over a paler, yellow costume. [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 40b Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph (A23) detail of the overpainted dagger of the initial composition now visible through the saint’s right arm due to the increased transparency of the upper paint. [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 40c Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph (A24) of Saint Paul’s face showing the particularly brief, schematic brushwork used to denote the facial features. [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 40d Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph (A42) of Saint Paul’s right hand, indicated with a few simple strokes of flesh-colored paint showing the remarkable brevity of the final, reworked position of the saint. [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 41 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph detail (A38) of drying cracks [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 42 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), detail of fallen saint’s attendants’ group [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 43 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), raking light detail of the figure group around Saint Paul [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 44 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), IRR detail of fallen saint’s attendants [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 45 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph (A22) of drying cracks visible in the back of the dog, suggesting an alteration to the contour. [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 46 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), microphotograph (A48) of detail of the yellow drapery visible beneath the gray paint of the rearing horse, indicating the rider was initially depicted with his leg over the horse. [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 47 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), IRR detail of the tussling horses [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 48 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), visible-light detail of Christ and putti [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 49 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), X-ray detail of Christ and putti [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 50 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), X-ray showing thin wooden addition strips added to the top and bottom edges of the panel support [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Fig. 51 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), panel reverse in raking light showing the “notches” cut into the vertical edges of the support [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 52 Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Defeat of Sennacherib, ca. 1617, oil on panel, Alte Pinakothek, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich
Fig. 53 Peter Paul Rubens, The Defeat of Sennacherib, ca. 1617, oil on panel, 97.7 x 122.7 cm. Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Death of Maxentius. ca. 1622, oil on oak panel, The Wallace Collection, London
Fig. 54 Peter Paul Rubens, The Battle of the Milvian Bridge and The Death of Maxentius, 1620, oil on oak panel, 38.3 x 64.5 cm. The Wallace Collection, London, P520. Wikimedia Commons   [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, A Lion Hunt, ca. 1614-1615, The National Gallery, London
Fig. 55 Peter Paul Rubens, A Lion Hunt, ca. 1614–1615, oil on panel, 73.6 x 105.4 cm. The National Gallery, London, bought 1871 (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
Annotated, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 56 Annotated image with microphotographs, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting) ca. 1610–1612, oil on oak panel, 95.2 x 120.7 cm, The Courtauld Gallery, London, Bequest of Antoine (Count) Seilern (artwork in the public domain) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (final painting), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 57 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
X-ray, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 58 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), X-ray [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
IRR, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (painting), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 59 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 1), infrared reflectogram [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (oil sketch), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 60 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 2) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
X-ray, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (oil sketch), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 61 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 2), X-ray [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
IRR, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (oil sketch), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 62 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 2), infrared reflectogram [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (preparatory drawing), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 63 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3) [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Composite IRR, Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (preparatory drawing), ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 64 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3),  image processed to show first composition, combined transmitted and ordinary light [IIIF multi-mode viewer]
Transmitted Light,Peter Paul Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul, ca. 1610-1612, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Fig. 65 Rubens, The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 3), transmitted light [IIIF multi-mode viewer]

Footnotes

  1. 1. Damon M. Conover, John K. Delaney, and Murray H. Loew, “Automatic Registration and Mosaicking of Technical Images of Old Master Paintings,” Applied Physics A 119 (2015): 1567–75, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00339-015-9140-1.

  2. 2. For a discussion of the dating of this panel, see E. Melanie Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution: Material Evidence in The Fall of Phaeton,” Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 11, no. 2 (Summer 2019): paragraphs 25–26 and 51, https://doi.org/10.5092/jhna.2019.11.2.1.

  3. 3. See E. Melanie Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution: Material Evidence in The Fall of Phaeton,” Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 11:2 (Summer 2019) DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2019.11.2.1

  4. 4. Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution.”

  5. 5. Julius Held, The Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens: A Critical Catalogue (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980), 578.

  6. 6. The role of the oil sketch within Rubens’s practice is discussed in “Rubens Presents. . . . The Origin and Formulation of the Painted Sketch,” in Friso Lammertse and Alejandro Vergara, Rubens, Painter of Sketches, exh. cat. (Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, and Rotterdam: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, 2018), 11–31, particularly 31n60, which discusses the term modello. A useful discussion of the evolution of terminology used for oil sketching in reference to Rubens’s use of preparatory works across a variety of media can be found in Linda Bauer and George Bauer, “Artists’ Inventories and the Language of the Oil Sketch,” Burlington Magazine 141, no. 1158 (September 1999): 520–30.

  7. 7. Count Antoine Seilern, Flemish Paintings and Drawings at 56 Princes Gate London (London: Shenval Press, 1955), 34–40.

  8. 8. Seilern, Flemish Paintings and Drawings, 34–40.

  9. 9. Julius Held, Rubens: Selected Drawings with an Introduction and a Critical Catalogue (Oxford: Phaidon, 1986), 93–94.

  10. 10. Held, The Oil Sketches, 579.

  11. 11. Held, The Oil Sketches, 579.

  12. 12. David Freedberg, Rubens: The Life of Christ after the Passion, Corpus Rubenianum 7 (London: Harvey Miller Ltd., 1984), 121–22.

  13. 13. See, for example, “Commission and Design: Written Sources on Rubens’s Sketches,” in Lammertse and Vergara, Painter of Sketches, 33–53.

  14. 14. See, for example, Arnout Balis, ““Fatto da un mio discepolo”: Rubens’s Studio Practices Reviewed,” in Rubens and His Workshop: The Flight of Lot and His Family From Sodom, ed. Toshiharu Nakamura, exh. cat. (Tokyo: National Museum of Western Art, 1994), 97–127.

  15. 15. A version of the Raphael/Marco Dente engraving was also engraved by Johannes Wierix in 1563 as Venus After Her Bath with Cupid; see cat. no. 1901 in Hollstein’s Dutch and Flemish Etchings: Engravings and Woodcuts, 1450–1700, vol. 67, The Wierix Family, part 9 (Belgium: Sound and Vision Publishers BV, 2004), 12–13. We are grateful to David Jaffé for drawing our attention to this source, which demonstrates the transmission of the Raphael prototype to Northern Europe. The Wierix engraving has a more muscular, heavyset Venus, with a differently placed left arm and knee, suggesting that Rubens drew upon the Marco Dente version.

  16. 16. The attribution of Adam and Eve to Rubens has been much discussed: d’Hulst and Vandenven give the work to Rubens in their discussion of his Old Testament subjects for the Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, while Jeremy Wood prefers an attribution to Rubens’s teacher, Otto Van Veen himself. See Roger-Adolf D’Hulst and M. Vandenven, Rubens: The Old Testament, Corpus Rubenianum 3 (London: Harvey Miller Ltd., 1989), 35–37, and Jeremy Wood, Rubens: Copies and Adaptations from Renaissance and Later Artists, Italian Artists, I. Raphael and his School. Corpus Rubenianum 26 (London: Harvey Miller Ltd., 2010), 35. For discussion of The Judgement of Paris, see David Jaffé et al., Rubens, A Master in the Making, exh. cat. (London, National Gallery, 2005), 11.

  17. 17. See the discussion of this painting in Jaffé et al., Master in the Making, 78–79, fig. 80.

  18. 18. Gerlinde Gruber with Geert van der Snkt, Stijn Legrand, and Koen Janssen, “Variations on the Theme of the Goddess of Beauty,” in Gerlinde Gruber, Sabine Haag, Stefan Weppelmann, and Jochen Sander, eds., Rubens: The Power of Transformation, exh. cat. (Munich: Hirmer, 2017), 79–85.

  19. 19. The suggestion that the painting traveled with Rubens hinges on whether the upper painting was made from the Michelangelo original, then in Fontainbleau, or was rather derived from a print from the painting or its cartoon. See cat. no. 30 in Jaffé et al., Master in the Making, 96. Wood feels that the painting was executed in Antwerp and that Rubens could not have seen the original work; see Wood, Copies and Adaptations from Renaissance and Later Artists, 35.

  20. 20. Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution,” paragraph 33, and Hans Devisscher and Hans Vlieghe, Rubens: The Life of Christ before the Passion: The Youth of Christ, Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard 5 (1), trans. Beverly Jackson (Turnhout: Brepols, 2014), 57–59.

  21. 21. Pierre Génard, P. P. Rubens: Aanteekeningen over den grooten Meester en zijne bloedverwanten (Antwerp, P. Kockx, 1877), 373.

  22. 22. David Rosen and Julius Held, “A Rubens Discovery in Chicago,” The Journal of the Walters Art Gallery 13/14 (1950–1951): 76–91.

  23. 23. SEM-EDX (scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive X-ray analysis) indicated that the intensely-colored green earth was a celadonite type, giving a spectra of Si, Fe, K, Mg, Al, known to come from Monte Baldo, near Verona. See Nicholas Eastaugh, Valentine Walsh, Tracey Chaplin, and Ruth Siddall, The Pigment Compendium: A Dictionary and Optical Microscopy of Historical Pigments (Amsterdam: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, 2008), 95, which may link to Rubens’s travels to Mantua. No green earth was found in any of the other works by Rubens in the Courtauld collection. See discussion of the use of local pigments in paragraph 45 and 46 and supports and primings in paragraph 24 of Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution.”

  24. 24. See, for example, cat. no. 6 in Lammertse and Vergara, Painter of Sketches, 68.

  25. 25. We are grateful to Victoria Button for her comments and advice on this watermark. We checked the watermark against those listed in Burchardt and d’Hulst, Rubens Drawings.

  26. 26. We are grateful to Jane Rutherston, senior book conservator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, for her advice on this topic. A quarto bound book is made up of full sheets of paper folded twice to produce sheets one-fourth of the original paper size. See “The Shape of Paper,” website of the Institut d’histoire du livre, particularly the table that comprises fig. 4, accessed January 11, 2021, http://ihl.enssib.fr/en/paper-and-watermarks-as-bibliographical-evidence/the-shape-of-paper. This book would have been half the size of Rubens’s Costume Book, which was made up from similarly sized sheets, folded only once, rather than twice, to create the book.

  27. 27. The two remaining sewing holes may have been the more bulky kettle stitches at top and bottom, which might have been sewn in. We are grateful to Kate Edmondson and Katharine Lockett, paper conservators at The Courtauld Gallery, and Bryan Clarke, visiting conservator, for their observations.

  28. 28. Held, Rubens: Selected Drawings, 94.

  29. 29. Kristin Lohse Belkin, The Costume Book. Corpus Rubenianum 24 (Brussels: Arcade, 1978), 47. Belkin discusses the Costume Book and concludes that it was drawn on loose sheets and subsequently bound together into a sketchbook.

  30. 30. Dimensions of both the Hippolytus and Conversion of Saint Paul drawings are given in Held, Rubens: Selected Drawings, 93.

  31. 31. Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution,” paragraph 5.

  32. 32. A deckle edge refers to the uneven or feathered edge on a sheet of paper produced by a handmade technique. The word “deckle” refers to the wooden frame around the sieve used to hold the fibers when they are lifted out of the water during the papermaking process. The irregular edge is formed when the fibers from the paper pulp slurry seep under the deckle frame and is an unavoidable artifact of the process. Single sheets of paper could be cut down to remove the deckle edge and produce a straight, smooth edge, but this might be seen as costly or wasteful unless the offcuts could be reused, as might be the case here.

  33. 33. We are grateful to James Stevenson for his advice on image processing techniques.

  34. 34. Seilern, Flemish Paintings and Drawings, 34–40.

  35. 35. Ian Tyers, dendrochronological consultancy report 422, April 2011, records of The Courtauld Gallery.

  36. 36. Freedberg, The Life of Christ, 114, and Held, Selected Drawings, 94.

  37. 37. Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution,” paragraphs 7–8. 

  38. 38. Freedberg, The Life of Christ, 116.

  39. 39. Held, Rubens: Selected Drawings, 84 (cat. no. 43).

  40. 40. Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution.”

  41. 41. Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution,” paragraph 30.

  42. 42. Held, The Oil Sketches, quoted in the entry for The Conversion of Saint Paul in Freedberg, The Life of Christ, 115.

  43. 43. For example, the Courtauld’s Landscape by Moonlight (1635–1640) in Helen Braham and Robert Bruce-Gardner, “Rubens’s ‘Landscape by Moonlight,’” The Burlington Magazine 130, no. 1025 (August 1988), 579–96. See also Christopher Brown, Making & Meaning: Rubens’s Landscapes (London: National Gallery, 1996); C. Brown, A. Reeve, and M. Wyld, “Rubens’ ‘The Watering Place,’“ National Gallery Technical Bulletin 6 (1982): 26–39; and George Bisacca, “Rubens’s Puzzle,” in Gruber et all, The Power of Transformation, 102–9.

  44. 44. Rubens is known to have used panel makers to extend his compositions; the National Gallery, London, has found instructions to the panel maker under the sky in Sunset Landscape with a Shepherd and his Flock, 1638. See Brown, Making & Meaning, 121.

  45. 45. Thanks to Graeme Barraclough for this suggestion. See the discussion of carpentry in Bisacca, “Rubens’s Puzzle,” 105.

  46. 46. Nico Van Hout and Arnout Balis, Rubens Unveiled: Notes on the Master’s Painting Technique, exh. cat. (Antwerp: Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, 2012), 42.

  47. 47. A Shepherd with His Flock in a Woody Landscape, ca. 1620, for example, has a thinner priming layer on the extensions. See Brown, Making & Meaning, 117.

  48. 48. Something also recently observed on the extensions to the Wallace Collection’s Rainbow Landscape; see Lucy Davis with Simon and Thomas Bobak and Michaela Straub, “The Making of the Two Great Landscapes,” in Rubens: The Two Great Landscapes, ed. Lucy Davis (London: Philip Wilson Publishers, 2020), 68–69.

  49. 49. d’Hulst and Vandenven, The Old Testament, 152 (cat. no. 47).

  50. 50. Hubert Von Sonnenberg, “Rubens’ Bildaufbau und Technik, I: Bildträger, Gruniereung un Vorskizzierung.” Maltechnik Restauro 85, no. 2 (1979): 6.

  51. 51. d’Hulst and Vandenven, The Old Testament, 152 (cat. no. 47).

  52. 52. Translated by the authors with assistance from Anne Puetz, from the Italian text in Rubens’s letter of May 12, 1618, to Dudley Carleton, in Rooses, Correspondance de Rubens, 2:149–50. The hunting scene offered for sale in this letter is listed in the previous letter, dated April 28, 1618 (p. 140), where it is described as “started by one of his pupils . . . after a painting made for the Duke of Bavaria” but “all retouched by his own hand.” The initial Wolf and Fox Hunt acquired by Carleton in 1617 was a cheaper version after a larger work sold to the Duke of Aarschot, acquired after he was unable to afford the prime version (see Arnout Balis, Rubens: Hunting Scenes, Corpus Rubenianum 18 [2] [London: Harvey Miller Ltd., 1986], 98, cat. no. 2). George Gage thought the quality of Carleton’s Wolf and Fox Hunt very high, considering it to be by Rubens’s hand and commenting: “The hunting peece of Rubens in my opinion is excellent, and perhaps preferable to the first, because when a Master doth a thing the second time, lightly it is for the better” (George Gage to Sir Dudley Carleton, November 1, 1617, in Rooses, Correspondance de Rubens, 2:119–20). However, Balis considers the most likely candidate for Carleton’s painting to be a studio work retouched by the artist version (see Balis, Hunting Scenes, 106–7, cat. no. 2b).

  53. 53. See Rooses’s commentary on Rubens’s letter to Sir Dudley Carleton dated April 28, 1618, discussing works he identifies as Prometheus Bound (ca. 1611–1612, now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art), Saint Sebastian (ca. 1614, now in the Staatliche Museen, Berlin) and Daniel and the Lions (ca. 1614–1616, now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington) in Rooses, Correspondance de Rubens, 2:140–144.  

  54. 54. The revisions identified were undertaken in two stages, probably in Italy and, later, in Antwerp. See Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution.” The image viewer allows comparison between mockups of the different compositional stages (fig. 38).

  55. 55. See discussion of the two works as potential pendants, as suggested by Michael Jaffé, in Gifford, “Rubens’s Invention and Evolution.”

  56. 56. See Christopher Brown’s argument in J. Plesters, “‘Samson and Delilah’: Rubens and the Art and Craft of Painting on Panel,” National Gallery Technical Bulletin 7 (1983): 30–49.

  57. 57. Translated from the Italian by the authors with assistance from Anne Puetz, in Rubens’s letter of May 12, 1618, to Dudley Carleton, in Rooses, Correspondance de Rubens, 2:149.

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DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2021.13.1.1
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Clare Richardson, Kate Stonor, "The Conversion of Saint Paul Series at the Courtauld: Rubens’s Artistic Process Revealed by New Technical Discoveries," Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 13:1 (Winter 2021) DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2021.13.1.1