Our painting illustrates a scene from the New Testament known in art history as "Noli me tangere" in Latin (don't touch me). This episode is only found in the Gospel of Saint John (20: 14-18).
After the resurrection Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene while she was crying near the empty tomb. When she saw him, she did not recognize him, and thinking that he was a gardener, she asked him if he knew who had removed the body of Jesus. Jesus calling him by his first name, she recognized him right away and wanted to touch him. Christ answered him: "Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to my father".
The two figures are placed in the foreground in the heart of a wooded landscape. The Risen Christ appears as a gardener and the kneeling woman is Marie Madeliene
The painting captures the moment when Mary is about to get up to kiss Jesus and holds out her hand so that she can touch him and is warned by Jesus not to do so.
Her flying veil reveals both her sudden movement but also the emotions that are agitating her at this moment.
Marie wears a purple dress on a white blouse, decorated with a blue skirt, her yellow veil wraps over her shoulder and detaches from the body.
Next to her kneeling figure, a ciborium is placed, for the young woman came to the tomb to anoint the body of Christ.
Christ draped in a carmine-red cloak stands out against the background of the landscape. He is holding a shovel in his hand. The Crucifixion nail marks are clearly visible on his body.
The drapes are skilfully executed thanks to the many shades to demonstrate the crests and hollows of the fabrics, all in a movement that descends in cascade.
The two protagonists evolve within a garden, as evidenced by the vegetables, fruits and flowers scattered around them.
To the left of Marie-Madeleine, a wheelbarrow filled with different varieties of cabbage, radishes and onions. Vigorous artichokes grow next to the wheelbarrow as well as a delicate strawberry stalk. Some pumpkins are placed at the feet of the young woman.
On the Christ side, two flowering plants in pots, including a beautiful tall tulip on stem with red and white petals.
Two guinea pigs placed between two characters enjoy pods of peas.
To the right of Christ, across an imaginary river stands a city, which could be the representation of Jerusalem, the circular building alluding to the Temple of Jerusalem
To the left of the young woman, a hill dotted with trees shelters at her foot dug in the rock the tomb of Christ, the tombstone placed next to the entrance attests that the tomb is empty.
The setting sun coloring the sky with pink hues, bathes the scene in a soft and tender light which also serves to enhance the brightly colored clothes of Christ and Mary Magdalene.
A bare tree branch welcomes several birds including a large parrot.
Our work with a particularly harmonious composition is endowed with a rich palette of bright colors, typical of Antwerp.
The ribbon figures standing out in the foreground by their shimmering colors are skillfully integrated into the landscape and the still life painted with meticulousness and delicacy, this to form a work that is both refined and moving.
Circle of Jan Brueghel the Younger (Antwerp, 1601-1678) and Peter Paul Rubens (1570 - 1640).
Antwerp School, mid-17th century
Oil on copper, dimensions: h. 37.5 cm, l. 49.5 cm
Elegant ebonized frame in Flemish style.
Total dimensions: h. 71 cm, l. 58 cm
There are several variations of our table.
Jan Brueghel the Younger and his workshop produced several versions of this subject, with variations in the compositions, collaborating with figure painters. If the first versions were executed in association with Hendrick van Balen, those dating from the 1630s were produced with the help of surrounding artists or Pierre Paul Rubens' studio.
Among them, it is worth mentioning the one kept at the Kunsthalle in Bremen, by Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Bruegel the Younger, dating from the end of the 1630s. Another version with the characters painted by the workshop of Pierre Paul Rubens at the Musée des Fine Arts of San Francisco. We can also cite the painting sold at auction in Vienna, 19/04/2016, Dorotheum, lot no. 14.
Collaborations between artists, particularly in the field of landscape / still life and figures, were very common in Antwerp in the 17th century. Each painter drawing the best of his talent, the final work had the advantage of being particularly successful.