This richly documented catalogue, which was published in three languages, accompanied the exhibition organized in 2010-11 by the ‘Forum der Draiflessen Collection’ in Mettingen. The Draiflessen Collection was established in 2009 by the Dutch Brenninkmeijer family, founders of the international clothing chain C&A, in order to preserve and relate the history of the family and its business, but also to mount internationally attractive exhibitions in its new purpose-built museum. Credo was the first such exhibition and, as is made clear in the preface to the catalogue, the theme of the visualization of prayer is one that accords with the devoutly Catholic faith of the Brenninkmeijer family.
The nucleus of the exhibition, conceived by guest curator Ursula Härting, was the Cumberland Apostle Series (Stansstad, Switzerland, Private Collection), consisting of thirteen half-length depictions of Christ and the Twelve Apostles, each of whom represents one of the twelve articles of the Christian Credo. The set was painted in Rubens’s workshop in the late 1610s or earlier 1620s, and according to the organizers of the exhibition, the master himself was partially involved in its execution, a point of view which has not convinced the author of this review. The Cumberland Series is one of several sets executed after the famous editio princeps painted by Rubens shortly after 1610 and known as the Apostolado Lerma, after the Duke of Lerma who acquired the series between 1614 and 1618 and which is today in the Prado in Madrid. The Cumberland Series owes its name to the fact that in 1917 this set was owned by Ernst-August of Cumberland, the last Duke of Brunswick and Lüneburg.
The lasting value of this lavishly edited book lies in its detailed status quaestionis, not only of the Rubens series but of the Apostolado subject in general as well as many other aspects related to prayers such as the Our Father and the Rosary, all of which are discussed in the 154 catalogue entries. In addition, ten essays by various authors – Ursula Härting, Alexandra Dern, Markus Vinzent, José Juan Pérez Preciado, Letizia Ruiz Gomez, Ulrich Heinen, Léon Lock, Christian Hecht, Moritz Jäger and Stefanie Thomas – provide a wider focus and examine many different iconological and typological aspects of the representation of apostles, and thereby also illuminate the great influence of Rubens’s series, which inspired the artistic production of a younger generation of important Antwerp Baroque artists, including Anthony van Dyck, Artus Wolffort, Jacob Jordaens and Gerard Seghers. But the essays also address other very different questions, from the use and purpose of statues of the apostles in Southern Netherlandish churches to artistic depictions of The Rosary in the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries.
This is a standard publication and it may be clear that any further research of this particular and very important aspect of Christian iconography will greatly benefit from this important book.
Antwerp, Centrum Rubenianum
Tragically, Alexandra Dern passed away on August 29, 2011. She was only 43.