Harvesting manna (Recogida del maná)

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Harvesting manna (Recogida del maná)
Almost square in format, this tapestry tells one of the most famous tales of the Exodus. Despite being smaller than other pieces in the series, Rubens conceived the story along the same lines: Solomonic columns frame a scenario in which a curtain is pulled, in this case held by a cord, thus making it possible to contemplate the characters as if they were performing.

The help of God

In this very well-known episode, manna is harvested in the middle of the desert during the endless travels of the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land (Exodus 16, 9-21). It shows Moses in the foreground, raising his head and hand towards heaven, so as to make apparent where the manna is coming from. It can be seen in the tapestry as large raindrops.

At Moses' feet, one man bends to harvest the divine nourishment, while another one helps a woman put a basket on top of her head. They are followed by another woman already loaded and accompanied by a boy. The spiral arrangement of these figures links heaven and earth in a beautiful composition.


I am the living bread that came down from heaven

In addition to this aesthetic achievement, the representation enhances the importance of the Eucharist, inasmuch as Jesus Christ identifies himself with the true manna: ‘I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever’ (John 6, 48-51).


Present and absent marks

The lower selvage shows the mark of the weaver but not that of Brussels, lost as a consequence of the improper preservation, damaged in its central lower part.


Series Apotheosis of the Eucharist

Model Cartoon copied from an original by Rubens

Manufacture Brussels. Manufacture by Frans van den Hecke. Mid-17th century

Fabric Silk and wool, 7/8 warps per cm

Size 410 x 435 cm

Location Church of San Millán de la Cogolla, Oncala (Soria)

Origin A donation by Bishop Juan Francisco Ximénez del Río, c. 1800

On display Hangs from the church’s crossing, to the right of the presbytery



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