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Peter Paul Rubens, The Miraculous Draught of Fishes

Key facts
Full title The Miraculous Draught of Fishes
Artist Peter Paul Rubens
Artist dates 1577 - 1640
Date made 1618-19
Medium and support Black chalk, pen and oil on paper, stuck on canvas
Dimensions 55 × 85 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1861
Inventory number NG680
Location Room 18
Collection Main Collection
The Miraculous Draught of Fishes
Peter Paul Rubens

According to the Gospel of Luke (5: 1–11), Christ one day approached two fishing boats on the Sea of Galilee. After boarding one and preaching from it, he told the fishermen to cast their nets. Although they had worked all night and caught nothing, the fisherman agreed; when they hauled the nets back in, they were near breaking from the bountiful catch. Astounded by this miracle, the fishermen became disciples of Christ.

The composition of this sketch is based on the central panel of a triptych made by Rubens for Notre Dame au delà de la Dyle, the church of the Mechelen Fishmongers’ Guild. The sketch was used as the basis for an engraving by Schelte à Bolswert, who worked for Rubens in Antwerp.

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