Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 15771640)
Pen and brown ink; 15 1/2 x 10 1/4 in. (39.5 x 26 cm)
Inscribed at lower left: P Rubens, 342
Verso: Study of the Belvedere Torso, red chalk, ca. 16012
Purchase, 2001 Benefit Fund, 2002 (2002.12a)
These rapidly executed sketches represent Rubens's first ideas for an altarpiece commissioned by the Church of the Augustinian Fathers in Antwerp, now in the city's Royal Museum of Fine Arts. At top center, Saint Catherine kneels before the Virgin and Christ Child, while to the left is a more detailed study of her drapery. Below, several other saints are depicted with gentle outlines. In the foreground, from left to right, Saints George, Sebastian, and William of Aquitaine pay homage to the Virgin. Although Rubens later altered the composition, he incorporated several elements from this early stage of his creative process into the painting.