Among the greatest achievements of Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) are his designs for the Triumph of the Eucharist tapestry series. The set of twenty monumental tapestries was commissioned by the Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia, daughter of Phillip II of Spain and governor general of the Southern Netherlands, as a gift to the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales (Convent of the Barefoot Royals) in Madrid. The scenes in this series display Rubens’ vast pictorial resources, his enormous creative capacity, and the vitality he infused into everything he painted.
The Triumph of the Eucharist tapestries are considered some of the finest made in Europe in the seventeenth century. Six of Rubens’s designs for the tapestries, brilliantly detailed oil sketches on wood panel, are highlights of the collection of the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid. Unfortunately, additions to the wooden supports, introduced after the paintings were created, made the panels considerably larger than Rubens intended and over time caused serious damage to the original sections. With the aid of the Getty Foundation’s Panel Paintings Initiative, the panels have been restored and returned to their original dimensions by the Prado, and the magnificent oil sketches can once again be placed on public view.
The restoration and recent study of the panels and the tapestries shed new light on the creation, display, and history of the Eucharist series. This lushly illustrated volume not only provides new insight and information about the series, it presents stunning photography of the beautifully restored paintings and tapestries, which are testaments to the brilliance of this master artist of the Baroque period.