Museum press release, 7 November 2008
New light on Rubens’ Adoration of the Magi
Peter Paul Rubens’ Adoration of the Magi, one of the showpieces at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (KMSKA) in Antwerp, has been subjected to close scientific examination as part of the museum’s ongoing Rubens project. Aspects studied include its genesis and restoration history, the painting techniques applied and the painting’s iconography. The findings shall be presented to the public in a dossier presentation that runs from 29 November 2008 to 1 March 2009. A two-metre-high platform will allow visitors to come eye to eye with the Holy Family and the three Magi and their suite.
Peter Paul Rubens completed The Adoration of the Magi, an altarpiece for the presbytery of the Premonstratensian Abbey of St. Michael in Antwerp, around 1624. The portrait of the commissioner of The Adoration of the Magi, Abbot Matheus Irsselius, which Rubens delivered along with the altarpiece to compensate for its high cost, is on loan from Copenhagen for the duration of this show. Together with the other exhibited works and video presentations, it will contribute to a better understanding of the altarpiece, the meaning of which is explained in the context of the Counterreformation in Antwerp and the role of the Norbertines in this movement.
The Rubens Project
The purpose of the Rubens project is to study the Royal Museum’s collection of 28 paintings, one drawing and 665 prints by Rubens as systematically and comprehensively as possible with a view to the compilation of a revised collection catalogue. On the basis of archival documents, we explore the history, provenance and past restorations of the works, while an analysis of the material and technical aspects provides insight into the style and technique of Rubens and his assistants, the creative production process and the dating of the pieces. The study is conducted in collaboration with domestic and foreign documentation centres, universities, polytechnics, research institutes and museums. In addition to resources from the museum’s own research budget, the project receives generous support from The Getty Foundation.
Also in the context of the Rubens project, the Museum has launched a Rubensbulletin, an online publication consisting in scientific contributions on the oeuvre of Rubens and his assistants, and intended for scholars and other interested readers (see www.kmska.be). The second issue, which is due to appear at the start of the forthcoming exhibition on 29 November 2008, shall be devoted in its entirety to The Adoration of the Magi. It is the museum’s intention to develop the Rubensbulletin into a forum for an international Rubens network.