Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Samson and Delilah, ca. 1610
London, National Gallery
From the museum website
Shortly after his return from Italy, Rubens made this oil painting about 1610 for Burgomaster Nicolaas Rockox, the famous art connoisseur and patron of the master. It is without doubt Rubens’ most important work from his early Antwerp period. This Old Testament tableau has a moral significance and is a warning about the consequences of unbridled lust.
Four hundred years later, this beautiful work once more adorns its place to be in the Rockox House. London’s National Gallery is lending it out for the celebration of the Rockox House as a museum.
The Rockox House is bringing a number of other exquisite pieces from Nicolaas Rockox’ rich collection back to Antwerp, including a painting by Frans II Francken from Rockox’ art room! This work, which is currently part of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen in Munich, is included in this exhibition. Painted art rooms are fascinating time documents, probably not entirely truthful, but they provide a sufficiently clear image of the art collection of a patrician.
In Franckens’ tableau we recognise the beautiful diptych by Quinten Metsys, ‘Christ the Saviour and Mary at Prayer’. This work from the Rockox collection is part of the vast collection of the KMSK (Royal Museum of Art) in Antwerp.