- Museum number
Studies for the Fall of the Damned, and for a lion hunt; two studies, one for the large dragon and struggling figures at the foot of the picture, lion rampants and animals fighting. c.1614-18
Pen and brown ink
Verso: Studies for the same subject; groups of figures rising, some supported by angels at right
Pen and brown ink
- Production date
Height: 573 millimetres
Width: 485 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The upper half of this sheet shows a sketch of a lion hunt which can be connected with the hunting scenes that Rubens produced for the Elector of Bavaria c.1615-1618. The lower half of this sheet depicts a compositional study preparatory to Rubens’ ‘Fall of the Damned’ that dates to circa 1620 and is now in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich (inv. KdK 194). This immediacy of this imposing painting is pre-empted in the rapid pen strokes with which Rubens composed the present studies. A more finished version of the lower section of the recto (containing struggling figures related to the Munich 'Fall of the Damned') is in the Musée Bonnat, Bayonne (inv. RF50875). In style, the Bayonne sheet resembles the large series of drawings connected with the 'Fall of the Damned' also in the British Museum, that are considered to be the work of studio assistants with some reworking by Rubens (see inv. Nos. 1994,0514.33- 36 and Oo,3.9).
Lit: J. Held, 'The Oil Sketches', pp.407-09; J. Held, 'Selected Drawings', New York, 1986, pp.55 and 109, cat.no.101, fig.90, and p.124; I. Seligman, 'Lines of Thought', London, 2016, no. 57, p. 99.
Entry from J. Rowlands, ‘Rubens: Drawings and Sketches’, exhibition catalogue, British Museum,1977:
The dragon and the mass of animals and men on the lower half of the recto were drawn in preparation for the lowest part of the 'Fall of the Damned' in Munich. Some have mistakenly assumed that this part of the painting was executed by an assistant, a proposal to which an examination of the original, in our view, lends no support.
On the upper part of the sheet, and now appearing upside down because the paper was originally folded, are two sketches for a 'Lion hunt'. In its composition it is most closely related to a 'Lion hunt' belonging to a series of hunting scenes, probably painted about 1615-16 for the Elector of Bavaria. Although the original of this was destroyed in a fire in Bordeaux, we can to some extent gauge its appearance from the best surviving studio replica, that formerly in the collection of Captain E. G. Spencer-Churchill. It seems very likely that this is the painting listed by Rubens in his letter to Sir Dudley Carleton of 28 April 1618: "Hunt of Men on Horseback and Lions begun by one of my pupils, after the one that I made for his Most Serene Highness of Bavaria, but all retouched by my hand".
It is very likely that all these studies were drawn at the same date, 1621, the year when according to the artist's nephew, the 'Fall of the Damned' was painted. The sketches for a 'Lion hunt' appear to derive from the Elector of Bavaria's painting; however, Rubens could be reinterpreting the composition afresh for use in the 'Fall of the Damned'.
The delicate and somewhat faint drawings on the verso are for the 'Assumption of the Blessed', a painting now in Munich and, it seems, executed entirely by assistants in Rubens's studio.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1977 BM, Rubens drawings and sketches, no.89
1978, BM, Gainsborough and Reynolds in the BM, no 270
2016 3 Sep - 6 Nov, Poole Museum, 'Lines of thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to now', no. 57
2017 1 Jan - 25 Feb, The Brynmor Jones Library Art Gallery, University of Hull, 'Lines of thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to now', no. 57
2017 12 Mar - 5 May, Ulster Museum, Belfast, 'Lines of thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to now', no. 57
2017 May - Sep, New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, 'Lines of thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to now', no. 57
2017-2018 Oct - Jan, RISD Museum, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, 'Lines of thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to now', no. 57
- Previous owner
Previous owner/ex-collection: Prosper Henry Lankrink (L.2090)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Sir Joshua Reynolds (L.2364)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Sir Thomas Lawrence (L.2445)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Paul Huart
Previous owner/ex-collection: Samuel Woodburn (Christie's, London, 7.vi.1860/798 as 'Sir P.P. Rubens - The first idea for the celebrated picture of the lion hunt; and, on the same sheet, a sketch of monsters and serpents - bistre pen, Very spirited' bt Roupell for £4-0-0)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Robert Prioleau Roupell
Previous owner/ex-collection: William Russell (Christie's, London, 11.xii.1884/463 as 'Rubens - The battle of the Bridge - pen and ink, heightened with white (Grosvenor, 1877, No.915')
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Thibaudeau acted as an agent for the British Museum at the Russell sale in December 1884, see 1885,0509.1574-1607. Some of the other drawings Thibaudeau purchased at the same sale were subsequently sold to the British Museum in 1885; see 1885,0509.33-51 and 1885,0711.271-303.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number