Rubens´s Triumphal Chariot of Kallo. Ancient Triumph and Antwerp festive tradition.
Schaik, A.H. van
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Abstract In 1638 Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) made an oil sketch representing The Triumphal Chariot of Kallo. It resulted from a commission by the Antwerp city council, related to the victory of the Spanish armies over the Dutch troops in the battle of Kallo. Rubens’s oil sketch is a design, combining the depiction of a triumphal allegory and the construction plan of a chariot. This chariot was supposed to ride in the annual procession, the Ommegang. The intention of the present thesis is to analyze Rubens’s oil sketch in the context of the Antwerp pictorial tradition. The central question is, to what extent Rubens’s invention of the triumphal chariot was influenced by traditional images of former Antwerp festive ceremonies. The study surveys the concept of the ancient triumph disseminated during the Renaissance, and concentrates on the triumphal celebrations in the Northern European tradition, especially in the city of Antwerp. Describing the historical context, the commission of the oil sketch will be related to the victory of Kallo and to the decorations of Antwerp Ommegangen and Joyous Entries. As a result of archival research, an until now unpublished seventeenth-century manuscript prescribing the scenography of an Antwerp Ommegang is presented. Triumphal chariots depicted by Renaissance artists and Dürer’s design of the Great Triumphal Car will be compared to Rubens’s design. The allegorical figures and maritime motives of the triumphal allegory in Rubens’s oil sketch will be compared to similar images in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century prints of the Chariot of Neptune and the Chariot of Antverpia. The baroque style of Rubens’s chariot will be compared to its Antwerp predecessors. Finally the thesis discusses the oil sketch’s influence on Jacob Jordaens’s work and describes the reconstructions of the chariot after Rubens’s design, illustrating the continuity of the Antwerp festive tradition.