1017618On the 28th of June 1577, Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens was born in Siegen, Westphalia (now Germany). The Getty Museum in Los Angeles holds one his more unusual works, an oil sketch entitled Blessed Virgin Mary as Woman of the Apocalypse (ca. 1623-24, Oil on panel, 25 x 19 3/8 in). The piece is inspired by a figure from Chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation (ca. 95 AD) and was meant to serve as the modello for the vast altarpiece that Rubens executed for the high altar of the cathedral at Freising, now preserved in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich. The bishop who commissioned it wanted a subject “applicable to all feast days of the Blessed Virgin”. The wings that are attached to the Virgin are now more clearly identifiable as “eagle’s wings.”

The Virgin’s identity has been the subject of a wide variety of…

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