Probably Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, Governor of the Southern Netherlands (see note);
The Radcliffe family of Hitchin Priory, Hertfordshire;
Thence by descent through the Radcliffe family at Hitchin Priory until 1965;
Hertford County Council, who purchased Hitchin Priory from the Radcliffe family in 1965 where it remained in situ until the Priory was sold by Hertford County Council in 1983, whereupon the painting was moved to Ossley Place, Hertfordshire, until sold in 2003.
S. Speth-Holterhoff, Les Peintres Flamandes de Cabinets d’ Amteurs au XVIIe Siècle, Brussels 1957, pp. 143-4, reproduced plate 59;
Maîtres Flamands du dix-septième siècle: du Prado et de collections privées espagnoles, exhibition catalogue, Brussels, Musée Royaux de Beaux-Arts de Belgique, 7 May - 13 July 1975, pp. 141-2, under cat. no. 40;
M.-L. Hairs, Dans le sillage de Rubens: les peintres d’ histoire anversois au XVIIe siècle, Liège 1977, p. 203;
Z. Filipzak, Picturing Art in Antwerp, 1550-1700, 1987, pp. 58-62;
I.G. Wilmers, The Paintings of Cornelis Schut the Elder (1597-1655), dissertation, columbia (New York) 1991, pp. 393-8, nos. A76 & A77;
A. Scarpa Sonino, Cabinet d’Amateur. Le Grandi Colleczioni d’Arte nei Dipinti dal XVII al XIX Secolo, Milan 1992, pp. 92-4;
G. Wilmers, Cornelis Schut (1597-1655): a Flemish Painter of the High Baroque, Brepols 1996, pp. 62-6, 93-4, 148, cat. no. A83, and probably pp. 147-148, no. A82, plate A82 .
This recently rediscovered painting appears to have belonged to Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, Governor of the Southern Netherlands from 1647-1656, and is depicted in a painting by David Teniers the Younger (signed and dated 1653, formerly Rothschild collection, sold London, Christie's, 8 July 1999, lot 224), showing the room in the Coudenberg Palace in Brussels where the Archduke displayed his collection (fig. 2). Whilst a number of the paintings depicted by Teniers were later transported to Vienna and today can be found in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, others, including the present work, do not appear in the 1659 inventory of the Archduke's collection and may have been left behind on his departure from Brussels in 1656. The picture of Susanna and the Elders represented by Teniers in the ex Rothschild picture is of more upright format than the present picture but Teniers frequently changed the proportions of the paintings he depicted in his 'Gallery Paintings' and as the compositions accord so closely in other respects that there can be little doubt that they are one and the same picture.
A similar painting is depicted in another work by Teniers entitled The Artist's Studio now at Raby Castle, collection of The Lord Barnard, (fig. 2; Wilmers, Literature, 1996, pp. 147-148, no. A82, plate A82). Hairs and Speth-Holterhoff (see Literature) have both argued that this is likely to be the same painting as the one shown in the ex Rothschild picture, believing that the differences between the two compositions could be accounted for by artistic licence. Wilmers, however, takes a different view and believes that Teniers' paintings record two different, albeit highly similar, works by Schut. She observes that the picture recorded in Lord Barnard's Teniers follows more closely Schut's etching of the composition (see fig. 1) than does the present work. In the latter, 'Susanna's torso and right arm are longer and her face is oval rather than round; the elder to the left is seen in three-quarters view rather than full-face, his fead is tipped forward and the shape of his turban is different; the fountain to the right is adorned with a sculpture of a nude female with water spurting from her breasts rather than with a cluster of bird-like shapes, and; the overturned pitcher is of an ornate, embossed design rather than a simple pottery vessel' (Wilmers, op. cit. p. 148). Whilst it is, of course, possible that Schut did paint two similar versions of this composition, both of which were known to Teniers, it is perhaps more likely that Schut made an etching and a single painting that was a variaint of this, and that Teniers had access to both the painting and the etching, using the latter as the model for the picture shown in the painting now at Raby Castle.
Schut had earlier treated the subject of Susanna and the Elders in a picture of different composition (apparently signed, oil on canvas, 204 by 320 cm.), formerly with Galerie S. Hartveld but lost during World War II and now known only through photographs and copies (see Wilmers, op. cit. pp. 93-94, no. A29, plate A29).
A copy of the present picture (oil on canvas, 108 by 106 cm.) was sold Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 17/19 November 1953, lot 191 (see Wilmers, op cit., pp. 148, under cat. no. A83, reproduced p. 396, plate A83a).
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