barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham

Peter Paul Rubens (1577 – 1640)

A Portrait of a Carmelite Prior

Antwerp, about 1616

Oil on wood

79.5 x 65.5 cm


A man dressed in the austere habit of the Carmelite order prays in front of a crucifix. 

The order was dedicated to contemplative prayer.  The man’s identity is not known, but his rapt gaze and the sympathetic treatment of his hands suggest a sincere and deep faith. The portrait may date from 1616 when Rubens was painting a large altarpiece for a Carmelite church in Brussels.  The artist himself was devout and he painted a number of portraits of ecclesiastics.


Purchased 1999 with contributions from The Art Fund and the Friends of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts (No.99.1)

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