While he was mainly known for painting mythological paintings depicting nude women, Peter Paul Rubens also created political and religious works during his lifetime. The following are some of the paintings he completed before his death.
The Massacre of the Innocents
It's a painting that portrays the biblical take where King Herod ordered his Roman soldiers to kill all the male children born in Bethlehem. He painted The Massacre of the Innocents at the beginning of the 17th century upon his return from Italy, where he had gone for an eight-year sojourn. The artist spent most of his time in Italy studying other influential artists like Master Caravaggio.
The Elevation of the Cross
On his return to his hometown, he got commissioned in 1610 to create his first major altarpiece. It was a work of art encouraged by a biblical story that portrayed Christ on the crucifix. The story is found in the Gospel of Mathew and shows the crucifix being raised to take on an upright position with Christ on it.
Its central part shows a highly charged moment where the panels attached to the sides portray the grieving viewers' reactions, including the two thieves who were crucified beside Christ. The focal point of the painting is when Christ is surrounded by well-built men struggling to pull, push, and lift the heavy cross upwards. The bulge in their muscles is an indication of the emotional and physical strain they are undergoing.
Some of the artists' most revered works can be found at the London Banqueting House. All one has to do is look upwards to the ceiling to see the only situ ceiling painting created by Ruben that's still surviving. The painting is commonly called Ruben's Ceiling. It was a work of art commissioned by king Charles I. Peter Paul Rubens created the entire painting in his Antwerp studio and then shipped it to London for installation.
It was later fitted in the ceiling in 1636. The work was highly detailed and was made up of three canvasses: The Peaceful Reign of James I, The Apotheosis of James I, and The Union of the Crowns. King Charles I commissioned it as a commemorative work of art dedicated to his father's reign, King James I, who passed away in 1625.