Portrait of Nicolas Trigault in Chinese Costume

Artist: Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, Siegen 1577–1640 Antwerp)

Date: 1617

Medium: Black, red, and white chalk, blue pastel, and pen and brown and black ink on light brown laid paper

Dimensions: 17 9/16 x 9 3/4 in. (44.6 x 24.8 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Purchase, Carl Selden Trust, several members of The Chairman's Council, Gail and Parker Gilbert, and Lila Acheson Wallace Gifts, 1999

Accession Number: 1999.222


Rubens drew this sensitive portrait while the Jesuit missionary to China was in Antwerp in 1617. Trigault, born in 1577, the same year as Rubens, had gone to China in 1610 but had returned to Europe to raise funds and gather a library. Rubens was close to the rector of the Jesuit College in Antwerp, and in 1615 construction began on a new Jesuit church for which Rubens eventually created two altarpieces and a magnificent series of ceiling designs.