The two panels with music-making angels (compare GE 139) are mentioned in a transport list of 1710 related to their purchase as two pictures, “worauff siengende undt auff instrument schlagende engell, von Rubbens” (“with angels singing and playing instruments”. In the older catalogues of the
Collections they were thus initially listed as works by Adriaen Hannemann until Wilhelm Bode attributed them to Rubens in 1888.

In the left painting an angel is playing the lute, while two others are singing from a book that is resting on the thigh of the angel in the front. Supported by dark clouds, the angels are brightly illuminated, their radiantly colourful clothing making them stand out against the night sky. The postures and faces of the angels correspond to common types in Rubens’ repertoire. In particular, the head of the violin-paying angel, depicted in three-quarter profile, is a frequently used motif.

Rubens’ group of angels was likely created in connection with an uncompleted project for a “Coronation of the Virgin” for the high altar of Antwerp Cathedral (1611). Today it is preserved as a modello in the Hermitage. Starting from the oldest catalogues of the Collections, however, the two pictures are described as wings not of an altar but of an organ case.

The figure of an old man standing in a niche on the reverse of the panel probably represents St Joachim, the father of the Virgin Mary.
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Peter Paul Rubens
Three Music-Making Angels, on the reverse side of St Joachim, 1615/1620
Oil on canvas
height 212 cm, width 98 cm
Inv.-No. GE136
Provenance: acquired by Prince Johann Adam Andreas I von Liechtenstein in 1710 from the Antwerp merchant Jan Peeter van Bredael
Further works on display
Decius Mus relating his dream, 1616/1617
Decius Mus preparing for Death, 1616/1617
The Death of Decius Mus, 1616/1617
The Obsequies of Decius Mus, 1616/1617
The Dismissal of the Lictors, 1616/1617
The Interpretation of the Victim, 1616/1617
The Trophy, 1616/1617
The Assumption of the Virgin, c. 1637
Venus in Front of the Mirror, 1614/1615
Oil sketch of Mars and Rhea Silvia, c. 1616/1617
Mars und Rhea Silvia, c. 1616/1617
The Discovery of the Infant Erichthonius, c. 1616
Satyr and Maid with Fruit Basket, 1615
The Lamentation, c. 1612
Christ Triumphant over Sin and Death, 1615/1622
Double Portrait of Albert and Nikolaus Rubens, c. 1626/1627
Portrait of Jan Vermoelen, 1616
Portrait of Clara Serena Rubens, c. 1616
Henry IV seizes the Opportunity to conclude Piece, 1628
The Victory of Henry IV at Coutras, 1628
The Consecration of Decius Mus, 1616/1617
The Obsequies of Decius Mus
St. Catherine in the Clouds, 1620/1621
Four Music-Making Angels, on the reverse side of St Anne, 1615/1620
Apollo in the Chariot of the Sun, 1621/1625
The Conversion of St. Paul, 1601/1602
Perseus and Andromeda
The Virgin adorned with flowers, 1609/1610
Psyche taken up into Olympus, 1621
Landscape with Milkmaids and Cows, 1616
Allegory of war, 1628
The Hunt of Meleager and Atalanta, 1628 (?)
The Assumption of the Virgin, modello, 1637
Ganymede, 1611/1612
Diana´s Hunt, 1628
St. Francis of Assisi before the Crucified Christ, 1625
Portrait of a Monk (?)
Adoration of the Magi, 1609/1610
The Visitation, 1611/1612
Portrait of Nicolaas Rockox, 1615
Samson and Delilah, c. 1610
Related themes
Rubens in Wien
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