About the Image:
In 1612, the owners of Antwerp's Plantin Press, Jan and Balthasar Moretus, asked their friend Peter Paul Rubens to create thirteen illustrations for a new Catholic prayer book called Breviarium Romanum. Rubens completed these drawings, including one of the Assumption of the Virgin, by March 1614. Balthasar Moretus, a childhood friend of Rubens, later wrote fondly of him, praising his perfect and amiable character. Rubens was known for returning to the subject of the Assumption of the Virgin throughout his career, and in this particular version, he used a controlled, classical composition inspired by Titian's altarpieces. He also incorporated the dramatic foreshortening and ebullient style of Baroque Italian painters. Rubens began with a chalk underdrawing that he then covered with pen, ink, and wash. The figure of the Virgin shows several pentimenti, or changes of mind, which suggest that this drawing was one of several studies and not the final sheet used by the engraver.