Triumph of the Eucharist series (Triunfo de la Eucaristía)
This series, also called the Apotheosis of the Eucharist, was commissioned by Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo Luis Manuel Fernández Portocarrero. It follows Ruben’s cartoons for the series located in the monastery of the Descalzas Reales in Madrid, commissioned by Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia, from which many copies were woven, such as that preserved in the parish church of Oncala (Soria).
A present to adorn the cathedral
The six tapestries from the Triumph of the Eucharist were donated by Cardinal Portocarrero, and delivered to the cathedral on 31st January, 1701. Another six tapestries belonging to the same cardinal and dedicated to the history of the six saint archbishops of Toledo also came under the Primate Cathedral’s ownership in June 1702. Both hangings flaunt the coat of arms of the cardinal on the lower edging. These two series were intended to adorn the temple on the occasion of certain festivities, although nowadays only the ‘Apotheosis of the Eucharist’ is hung to embellish the exterior of the cathedral.
Triumph of the Faith
The theme is perfectly confined to the atmosphere of the Counter-Reformation, because it is an extolment of the Eucharistic mystery and of the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, as opposed to Protestant confessions. Therefore, there is no better time for public exhibition than the Corpus Christi festivities.
The edition in the Primate Cathedral
The series in Toledo is made up of six tapestries – in contrast to the first series’ twenty – copied from the edition kept at the Descalzas: ‘Abraham and Melchizedek’, ‘The Triumph of the Church’, ‘The Triumph of Divine Love’ (or of Charity), ‘The Victory of the Eucharist over Idolatry’ and ‘The Defenders of the Faith’.
The first one shows an episode from the Old Testament which foretells the Eucharist. The arrangement of the following three panels recalls the triumphs of classical origin, which were so widely represented during Renaissance. For instance, the main allegory appears on a chariot, surrounded by figures and symbols, as in those series dedicated to the Virtues. The last tapestry is dedicated to the defenders of the Faith, showing the figures of St. Jerome, St. Norbert, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Clare, St. Gregory the Great, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, with the dove of the Holy Ghost descending over them.
S. Cortes Hernández, Tapices flamencos en Toledo. Catedral y Museo de Santa Cruz, Madrid, 2002.
N. de Poorter, Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard. 2, The Eucharist series, Brussels, 1978.
N. de Poorter, De Triomf van de Eucharistie / The Triumph of the Eucharist (exhibition catalogue), Antwerp, 1997.
Models Peter Paul Rubens
Manufacture Brussels, workshops of Jan Franz Van den Hecke, 2nd half of 17th century
Fabric Wool and silk
Origin Cathedral of Toledo (preserved at Santa Cruz Museum)
On display Some of the tapestries in this series are exhibited inside the Cathedral of Toledo during the Corpus Christi festivities (a Thursday in May or June, 60 days after Easter Sunday)
MAZ and JPM