Oct. 24: Christ’s odd stomach

I’ve often wondered about Christ’s odd stomach in Ruben’s “The Tribute Money” at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. Clearly it represents no anatomical feature.

Rubens The Tribute Money 1612

All I can think is that there must have been a foreground figure–some child or dwarf or crouching somebody–who turned out to be a distraction. Billowing out the cloak would be a simple way of covering him.

It would be interesting to know if the piece has ever been x-rayed, which, presumably, would clear the matter up. The Legion says that, due to the volume of email it receives, it doesn’t answer questions about works of art, but if any renegade working there happens to notice this, and has the answer, I’d be intrigued, and happy to pass it along.