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Rubens executed this Descent from the cross for the fraternity of the Mall, at Antwerp, and it was placed over the altar of that body, in the cathedral of the town. The picture was usually enclosed by two doors, likewise painted by Rubens, to have which opened a permission was necessary; this it was often difficult to obtain, and was never granted but at a certain hour of the day, when the proper light fell on the picture. The cicerone, trusted to show this chef-d'œuvre, allowed but little time to view it; and, to increase the fee, he expected for his trouble, did not fail to give a full account of the presents that princes and distinguished personages had bestowed on him as a mark of their satisfaction. It has been said that Louis XIV desired to possess this picture, but was refused. Such an assertion is doubtful, but it is certain that, at the time of the conquest of Flanders in 1794, it was brought to Paris.

It was generally apprehended at that time that this picture, being continually exhibited to the public, would lose a part of its former reputation, which had been increased by the quackery made use of in allowing it to be seen. These fears were vain; for the Descent from the cross was as highly admired in the gallery of Paris as it had been in the church at Antwerp. In 1815 the picture returned to that town, but was not restored to its former place; it is now in the cross-aisle of the cathedral, and though the doors have been re-hung, they are usually open. The finished engraving from this picture is by Lucas VorsA design of it is possessed by the Museum of Paris. Height, 14 feet 1 inches; breath, 10 feet 4 inches.





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Le corps de Jésus-Christ est déjà porté à l'entrée du sépulcre; Joseph d'Arimathie et saint Jean s'apprêtent à l'y placer, tandis que les saintes femmes exhalent leurs douleurs. Cette composition, assez souvent répétée par un grand nombre de peintres de toutes les écoles, a reçu en Italie le nom de Pitié. On y voit toujours la Vierge avec deux ou trois saintes femmes, qui portent également le nom de Marie. L'une est la sœur de la Vierge, dont le mari se nommait Alphée ou Cléophas, et mère de saint Jacques le mineur. La seconde est femme de Zébédée, mère de saint Jean et de saint Jacques le majeur; elle porte aussi le nom de Salomé. La troisième est Marie-Madeleine, que l'on confond souvent avec la femme pécheresse qui répandit des parfums sur les pieds de Jésus-Christ et les essuya avec ses



The body of Jesus Christ is already carried to the mouth of the sepulchre; Joseph of Arimathea and saint John are preparing to place it therein, while the holy women are weeping around. This composition, often treated by many painters of all the schools, has received in Italy the name of Pity. The Virgin is always seen with two or three holy women all of whom bear the name of Mary. One of them is the sister of the Virgin, the wife of Alpheas, called also Cleophas, and the mother of saint James the less. The second is the wife of Zebedee, the mother of saint John and saint James the great; she bears also the name of Salome. The third is Mary Magdalene, who is often confounded with the penitent woman that anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped them with the hair of her head.

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