Rubens and the Dominican Church in Antwerp

Art and Political Economy in an Age of Religious Conflict


This book is about the Dominican church in Antwerp (today St Paul’s). It is structured around three works of art, made or procured by Peter Paul Rubens: the Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary cycle (in situ), Caravaggio’s Rosary Madonna (Vienna) and the Wrath of Christ high altarpiece (Lyon). Within the artist’s lifetime, the church and monastery were completely rebuilt, creating one of the most spectacular sacred spaces in Northern Europe. In this richly illustrated book, Adam Sammut reconceptualises early modern churches as theatres of political economy, advancing an original approach to cultural production in a time of war. Using methodologies at the cutting edge of the humanities, the place of St Paul’s is restored to the crux of Antwerp’s commercial, civic and religious life.

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Adam Sammut, PhD (1990, University of York) is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of History of Art at the University of York. He has published articles on Dutch and Flemish art in Review of Scottish Culture, Dutch Crossing and Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek.
List of Figures
List of Illustrations
List of Tables


Part I: The Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary Cycle, 1568–1671

1 Guns and Rosaries: The Ecclesia Laicorum as a Realm of Memory
 1 Iconoclasm and the Revolt
 2 Places and Realms of Memory
 3 The Art of Memory and the Art of Preaching
 4 The Enemy Within
 5 Conclusion

2 The Mystery Machine: The Cycle as a Proponent of Piety and Peace
 1 Antwerp and the Archdukes
 2 Joannes Boucquet, ‘A Highly Distinguished Prior’
 3 The Rosary Brotherhood
 4 Peace and Pictura Sacra
 5 Conclusion

Part II: Caravaggio’s Rosary Madonna, c.1603–51

3 ‘Outstandingly Great Art yet Not High in Price’: The Rosary Madonna as a Sacred Commodity
 1 Made in Rome
 2 The Entombment
 3 The Death of the Virgin
 4 ‘A Very Dear Friend of Caravaggio’s’
 5 Conclusion

4 Four Liefhebbers and a Funeral: Procuring The Rosary Madonna for Profit, Fame and Love
 1 Love Actualised
 2 Friends with Benefits
 3 The Gift Economy
 4 Two Become One
 5 The Art-Lover Formerly Known as Prince
 6 The Godly Feast
 7 The Art of the Deal
 8 Conclusion

Part III: Rubens’s Wrath of Christ High Altarpiece, 1618–42

5 Apocalypse Later: Michaël Ophovius and the Ecclesia Fratrum
 1 The Archaeology of the Choir
 2 Unemotional Rescue
 3 Back to Basics
 4 ‘The Hangman’s Noose for the Bishop’s Mitre’
 5 ‘Tears of Blood’
 6 Hero-Worship
 7 Rubens and ’s-Hertogenbosch
 8 Heart of Glass
 9 Conclusion


References 447
Index 515
All scholars interested in Rubens, Netherlandish art, Caravaggio, Italian art, stained glass, Antwerp in the seventeenth century, the Dutch Revolt, Habsburg Spain and the display of religious art in situ.
Keywords: Jan Brueghel I, Hendrik van Balen, Caravaggio, Counter-Reformation (also Catholic Revival), Abraham van Diepenbeeck, Anthony Van Dyck, Eighty Years’ War, Isabella Clara Eugenia, Hendrick Goltzius, ’s-Hertogenbosch (also Den Bosch), Jacob Jordaens (also Jacques), battle of Lepanto, Michaël Ophovius (also Ophoven), Spanish Netherlands (also Belgium, Southern Netherlands), Rome.
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