Unknown French artist
The Assumption of the Virgin
Second half of seventeenth century, after a 1647 engraving of a 1644 painting by Simon Vouet, cast ca. 1650–1700
18 3/4 x 12 1/4 in. (47.4 x 31.2 cm)
Lifted by cherubim, the Virgin rises from her tomb while the apostles look up in astonishment. The sculptor based his composition on an engraving, and he expertly employed his repertoire of tools to achieve the bronze relief’s pictorial effects. He sharpened the figures’ flaring robes with chisels, creating a sparkling contrast of light and shadow that offsets the polished backdrop of pilasters, steps, and tomb. Meticulous matte punching conveys the cloudburst’s radiance.
This French bronze is paired with an oil sketch by Rubens of the same subject and size. The bold three-dimensionality of Rubens’s figures and the pictorial illusionism of the relief underscore the fluid interplay between painting and sculpture during the Baroque period.