The Constantine series: Rubens and tapestries

Koen Brosens, 25 March 2012

In 1622 Peter Paul Rubens designed a series of tapestries about the history of Constantine, the twelve preparatory oil sketches for which have been preserved. In this series, Rubens once again demonstrated his profound knowledge of antique and Renaissance art. Furthermore, the medium of woven art was ideally suited to his often-praised sense of monumentality and aesthetic refinement.

The lecture followed the presentation of a new volume in the series Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard in Paris: Subjects from History: The Constantine Series (CRLB XIII(3)). Koen Brosens’s critical research of archival material and other sources makes this new volume in the Corpus the first monograph to deal with the tapestry series in all its multiple facets. Brosens made a number of new discoveries: thus, he revealed that the structure of the series was conceived differently from previous descriptions, and that the general assumption that the series had been commissioned by Louis XIII was incorrect.