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Saint CatherineEnlarge image

Saint Catherine, c. 1620

Peter Paul Rubens; Lucas (the Elder) Vorsterman ?
Flemish, 1595 - 1675
etching and engraving on laid paper
29.6 x 20.1 cm trimmed; plate: 29.4 x 19.9 cm
Purchased 1931
National Gallery of Canada (no. 3848)

Rubens carefully controlled the production of prints after his works, fostering close relationships with printmakers. St. Catherine is an exception: it was made by the painter himself. Rubens first etched the design into the copper plate – a technique suitable for someone not trained as an engraver. He then had a professional printmaker revise the plate in engraving under his direction; the text, likely added after his death, states simply, “Rubens made it.” The result is informal and less polished than the prints he habitually commissioned. Few impressions were printed during his lifetime, perhaps because he considered it an experiment, and to a man conscious of his public reputation, more private.

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