The prophet Elias is comforted by the angel

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The prophet Elias is comforted by the angel
This is the fifth tapestry of the series, and depicts the moment when the prophet Elias, fleeing in despair to the desert, was comforted by an angel. According the first book of Kings in the Old Testament, he was being pursued by Queen Jezebel. On his way, an angel appeared to him, offering him a glass of water and a large load of bread, both of which would give him the strength to walk for forty days and nights to reach Mount Horeb.

The angel comforts the prophet

Rubens reinterprets this biblical tale; tradicionally, the prophet is depicted deep in sleep, but here Elias is awake and actively receives the food and drink which the angel presents to him as he becomes weaker and weaker. Elias is barefoot, wearing a garment of camelskin and covered with a white cloak.

A foreshadowing of the Eucharist

This tale is another of the episodes in the series which foretells the Eucharist, where the cup of water, presented as a chalice, and the loaf of bread both evoke the future establishment of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

A tapestry within a tapestry

This tapestry again uses the technique of a tapestry within a tapestry. Here, it is held with a single rope, held up by a large ring from a mascaron and tied to solomonic columns. This technique is clearly seen in the way the lower part of the false tapestry is supported by the architectural base, decorated with scrolls. Conceived to form a pair with the tapestry about the manna in the desert, Rubens used identical decorative techniques in both of them.

The creative process

The draft and the model are conserved in the Musée Bonnat in Bayonne, while the cartoon belongs to the Musée du Louvre, although it is kept in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Valenciennes in France.


The marks of the weaver and place of manufacture can be seen in the lower selvage: IAN GEUBELS BdB.

Series The Triumph of the Eucharist

Fifth tapestry in the series

Model Peter Paul Rubens, 1626-1628

Manufacture Jacob II Geubels, Brussels, 1627-1632

Fabric Silk and wool

Size 485 x 415 cm

Location Monastery of the Descalzas Reales

Origin Collection of the Monastery of the Descalzas Reales

On display Hall of Tapestries

National Heritage Inv. 00610320


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