The Holy Women at the Sepulchre
c. 1611-14
Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577-1640)
On View

On the third day after the Crucifixion, women visiting Christ's tomb are greeted by two angels surrounded by a blazing light of celestial radiance [Luke 24:4]. The angels deliver the astonishing news of the Resurrection. Each woman reacts differently to the miraculous announcement, contemplating the profound significance of what they have heard.

Working under the influence of Roman art, Rubens gives a deeply sculptural effect to this dramatic composition. Using highly rounded forms, with clear contours and rich colors, he creates a surging movement of rhythmic undulations from left to right. Though the exact identity of each figure has fallen into question, recent debate has convincingly suggested that the woman shielding her eyes with her veil is Mary Magdalene. The central figure is the Virgin Mary, whose form is derived directly from the Roman "Pudicitia," now in the Vatican.


  • Artist Name: Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577-1640)
  • Title: The Holy Women at the Sepulchre
  • Date: c. 1611-14
  • Medium: Oil on panel
  • Dimensions: framed: 46 x 53-3/4 in. (116.8 x 136.5 cm); panel: 34-1/2 x 42-1/4 in. (87.6 x 107.3 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1972.51.P
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

Possibly commisioned by a member of the Clarisse family, Antwerp ca. 1617.
probably Friedrich Karl Lang (1766-1822), ca. 1796 – ca. 1804 to;
[Dominic Artaria, buying for];
Johann Rudolf, Count Czernin collection, (Vienna, 1757-1845);
Czernin Collection, Vienna (on loan to Residenzgalerie, Salzburg from 1955-1971).
[Pinakos, Ltd., sold 30 April 1971 to];
[Thomas Agnew and Sons, London, stock J7255 as Holy Women and the Two Angels, sold 1972 to];
The Norton Simon Foundation.
Dillon, F., Rubens, pl. CCXV
Burchkhardt, Jakob, Erinnrungen aus Rubens, p. 39
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Steinberg, Leo, Source: Notes in the History of Art, pp. 77-79
Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, cat. 890 p. 348
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White, Christopher, The Age of Rubens, fig. 6 p. 152
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Sutton, Peter, The Age of Rubens, fig. 6 p. 152
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Mundler, O., Zeitschrift fur bildende Kunst, p. 48
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Held, Julius S., The Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens, fig. 16 pp. 52, 440-441, 505
De Grummond, Nancy, The Ringling Museum of Art Journal, fig. 10 pp. 78-90
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von Bertuch, Carl, Bemerkungen auf einer Reise aus Thüringen nach Wien in Winter 1805 bis 1806,
Coffey, Susan C., Peter Paul Rubens, col. pl. 3, 3a pp. 9-14, cover
Meij, Dr. A.W.F.M., Rubens, Jordaens, van Dyck and Their Circle, fig. 2 p. 316-318
Keiser, E., Müchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst, p. 132
Jaffé, Michael, Wadsworth Anthenaeum Bulletin, pp. 12-13
P.P. Rubens, Des Meisters Gemälde, p. 204
Frimmel, Theodor von, Kunstchronik, p. 542
Katalog der Residenzgalerie Salzburg mit Sammlung Czernin und Sammlung Schönborn-Bruchheim, pl. 7 pp. 72-73
Waagen, Gustav F., Die vornehmsten Kunstdenkmäler in Wein, no. 24 p. 298
Held, Julius, Source: Notes in the History of Art, pp. 66-76
Haag, Sabine, Elke Oberthaler and Sabine Pénot, Vermeer: Die Malkunst, pp. 70, 72-73, 137; ill. 10-11, 286-289
Lehmann, F. R., P. P. Rubens: Menschen und Mächte des Barocks, ein Zeitbild,
Stechow, Wolfgang, Rubens and the Classical Tradition, fig. 48 p. 55, 58
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Additional Artwork by Artist

David Slaying Goliath Peter Paul Rubens c. 1616
Meleager and Atalanta and the Hunt of the Calydonian Boar Peter Paul Rubens c. 1618-19
Portrait of Anne of Austria, Queen of France Peter Paul Rubens c. 1622-25

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