C. Barwell Coles, Alpha Place, 24 Westbourne Park Villas, London and of the Les Champs Elysées, Paris;
His deceased sale, London, Christie's, June 14, 1856, lot 19, as 'G. van Huysum' (for 14 guineas to Fawcett);
Edward Robinson, Lismara, White Abbey, Belfast;
His sale, London, Christie's, November 26, 1906, lot 58 (as 'F. Francks') for 17 guineas to Wagner;
Josef Cremer collection, Dortmund ;
His sale, Berlin, Wertheim, May 29, 1929, lot 53, for 4 400 DM, to Bestgui;
Charles de Bestegui, Chateau de Groussay, near Paris;
His sale, Chateau de Groussay, Sotheby's, June 3, 1999, lot 533, where acquired by the present owner.
This is one of only three surviving paintings by Willem van Haecht depicting the interior of a kunstkamer (picture gallery) and shows the visit of Alexander the Great to the studio of Apelles who is busy painting Campaspe's portrait. The painting is as notable both for this historical anecdote, which was undoubtedly intended to eulogise the role of both patron and artist in the eyes of contemporaries, as it is for the depiction of the kunstkamer itself, a genre unique to Antwerp and that was favoured by other artists such as David Teniers the Younger and Frans Francken the Younger, the latter of whom is generally credited with its invention earlier in the century.
From 1628, on becoming a master of the Guild of St. Luke, Van Haecht was employed as curator of the art collection of Cornelis van der Geest (d. 1638), a prominent merchant in Antwerp and patron of the young Rubens. Van Haecht held this position until his death in 1637. Van der Geest's collection was one of the most important in Antwerp and it was immortalised by Van Haecht's recording of a visit there by the Archduke Albert and Archduchess Isabella in 1628 which is now in the Rubenshuis, Antwerp. Some of the paintings included in the present work actually belonged to Van der Geest, such as the Portrait of a scholar by Quentin Metsys (Stadel, Frankfurt) and the small Danae by Van Haecht himself, both in the lower right foreground. Amongst the other works are some of the most celebrated by both 16th century and contemporary painters; at the far left is Titian's Education of Love (Galleria Borghese, Rome), above the fireplace is Van Dyck's Achilles amongst the daughter of Lycomedes (Schoenborn Collection, Pommersfelden), in the middle of the right hand wall Correggio's Venus and Cupid with a Satyr (Louvre, Paris) and immediately below is Sebastiano del Piombo's Portrait of Ferry Carondolet and his secretaries (Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid). The inclusion of such Italian works which were certainly not in Antwerp at this time mark the present work out for special attention and, although not a true depiction of an actual picture cabinet it is, in effect, a picture of an idealised cabinet based on that of Cornelis van der Geest. A further unsigned but superior version of the present work, in which many additional works line the walls and which includes a view through an arch to two further galleries, is in the Mauritshuis, The Hague.1
Amongst the paintings that can be identified in the present work are:
Back Wall (left to right)
Titian, Venus blindfolding Cupid (Rome, Galleria Borghese)
Sir Anthony van Dyck, Achilles among the daughters of Lycomedes (Pommersfelden, Schönborn collection)
Gerard Seghers, The Denial of St. Peter (lost)
Bernard van Orley, Alexander banishing the shoemaker (Leipzig, Museum der bildenden Künste)
Correggio, Venus and Cupid with a Satyr (Paris, Louvre)
Sir Peter Paul Rubens, A drunken Satyr (Vienna, Akademie der bildenden Künste)
Sebastiano del Piombo, Portrait of Ferry Carondolet with his secretary (Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza)
Otto van Veen (?), Venus at the Forge of Vulcan (lost)
On the Floor
Domenico Mancini (?), A Warrior with a sword (lost)
Frans Snyders, The Game Larder (Stratford-upon-Avon, on loan to the National Trust at Charlecote)
Willem van Haecht, Danaë
Quentin Metsys, Portrait of a Man (Frankfurt, Städelsches Kunstinstitut)
Campaspe's attendant holds a print of The Judgement of Paris by Marcantonio Raimondi after Raphael (from which Van Haecht borrowed the pose of Paris for that of Apelles).
Of the remaining, smaller works, while an artist can usually be indentified, the image is too generic or indistinct to allow an identification of a particular work in the artist's oeuvre.
1. See Broos under Literature, p. 137, or H.R. Hoetink (ed.), The Royal Picture Gallery. Mauritshuis, The Hague 1985, pp. 190-1, no. 36, reproduced.
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