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Rubens and the Northern Past: The Michielsen Triptych and the Thresholds of Modernity

Lynn F. Jacobs
The Art Bulletin
Vol. 91, No. 3 (September 2009), pp. 302-324
Published by: College Art Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40645509
Page Count: 23
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Rubens and the Northern Past: The Michielsen Triptych and the Thresholds of Modernity
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Abstract

Rubens's Michielsen Triptych draws on the Netherlandish past not simply in its format but also in its structuring of the spaces of the triptych. Like many Early Netherlandish triptychs, Rubens's work creates ambiguous relations between center and wings, establishing "miraculous thresholds" between zones that appear to be simultaneously connected and disconnected. The miraculous thresholds of Rubens's triptych negotiate relations between the donors and God and between the meanings inhering in Christ's life and metaphysical status—even as they convey Rubens's awareness of the connection between the triptych's traditions and the early modern interrogation of the spaces between art and reality.

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