Peter Paul Rubens was commissioned to create an altarpiece for the Church of the Augustinian Fathers in Antwerp, resulting in his famous work, “Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints.” The artwork now resides in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp. This oil painting depicts the Virgin Mary seated on a marble and porphyry throne within a church. The infant Christ is on her lap, while two saints flank her on either side.
The painting also features a group of saints and angels offering vases of roses, lilies, a crown, and a pyx. These additional details add depth to the piece by emphasizing the importance of these religious symbols. Rubens’ use of chiaroscuro creates contrasts between light and shadow that accentuate certain elements over others.
Critics praised “Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints” as one of Rubens’ most impressive works, comparing it to Cologne’s Virgin in The Rose Bower. Interestingly enough, this particular piece is representative of Rubens’ earliest creative concepts thanks to its underlying sketches that served as first drafts before being developed into an oil painting.