Each page circa 200 by 145 mm; 7 7/8 by 5 3/4 in, inset into the album pages, 435 by 260 mm; 17 1/8 by 10 1/4 in, and interleaved with blank pages. In a nineteenth century English yellow morocco binding, tooled in gold, titled RUBENS on the spine, stamped on the verso of the first end-paper: J.Wright Binder.
Jacques-Gabriel Huquier, his sale Paris, 9 November 1772, lot 136, to Jacques Chérau;
Sir Thomas Lawrence, probably bought in 1825, his sale London, Christie's, 19 June 1830, lot 447;
Samuel Woodburn, his sale London, Christie's, 14 June 1860, lot 1623, 57.15.0, to Evans;
Ambroise Firmin-Didot, his sale Paris, 13 June 1884, lot 35, unsold, reoffered, his sale 18 May 1910, lot 151, 4.000 frs., to Martine, Comtesse de Béhague;
by descent to the Marquis de Ganay,
sale of his estate, Monaco, Sotheby's, 1 December 1989, lot 69, to Mrs. Rosekrans
Vinci, et al., La Raccolta Leonardesca della Contessa de Béhague, 1980-81
J.D. Passavant, Tour of a German Artist in England, London 1836, vol.I, p.253 (saw the MS. at Woodburn's);
Mary Philadelphia Merrifield, in a letter to Mr. M. Johnson, dated 4 August 1845, mentions the MS. in the collection of Mr. Woodburn;
Kate T. Steinitz, Leonardo da Vinci's Trattato della Pittura: A Bibliography of the printed editions 1651-1956, Copenhagen 1958, p.128. no. E,9; pp. 169-170;
M. Jaffé, Van Dyck's Antwerp Sketchbook, London 1966, in the Introduction, then described pp.89-91 and summarized p.304-305; illus. pls. liv. Lxxv-lxxx;
M.Jaffé, Rubens in Italy, Oxford 1977, p.12;
A. Vezzosi and C. Pedretti, La Raccolta Leonardesca ella Contessa de Béhague, Vinci 1980, pp. 54-69;d
A. Vezzosi and C. Pedretti, Leonardo's Return to Vinci, The Countess de Béhague Collection, Johnson Reprint Coorporation 1981, pp. 54-69;
A.-M.S. Logan, 'Leonardo, Poussin, Rubens and the Ms. De Ganay,' Essays in Northern European Art presented to Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann on his Sixtieth Birthday, Doornspijk 1983, pp. 142-7;
H. Braham, Rubens Paintings, Drawings, Prints in the Prince's Gate Collection, London 1988, pp. 51-53
This volume, written in a fine secretarial hand, has been extensively discussed by Michael Jaffé in his introductory essay in Van Dyck's Antwerp Sketchbook (loc. cit.), as an important record of lost writings and drawing by Rubens. Professor Jaffé suggests that it was made, probably with publication in mind, perhaps at the wish of a member of Rubens's family, at some date between 1651 and 1692.1 It derives from Rubens's so-called Pocketbook, a compendium of drawings and writings which he made between roughly 1600 and 1635. The Pocketbook later belonged to Roger de Piles (1635-1709) who published a portion of it in 1708, but then it was almost completely destroyed in a fire in 1720 in the quarters at the Louvre of André-Charles Boulle, ébéniste to Louis XIV. Professor Jaffé has been able to identify several drawings which survived the fire (Jaffé, op. cit., p.302), but otherwise the De Ganay manuscript and another transcript in a different late 17th century hand (so-called MS. Johnson, now in the Princes Gate collection at the Courtauld Institute, London), together with Van Dyck's Antwerp Sketchbook at Chatsworth, are the only three surviving sources for our understanding of this aspect of Rubens's work.2
The volume contains seventeen pages of text, some written on both sides of the page, in pen and brown ink, in Latin, with chapters bearing the following titles: Figurae Humanae Elementa Tria constituantur; De Figurae Humanae Elementis Cubo, Circulo et Triangulo, vel Pyramide Speciatim; De Forma Virili; De Figura Humanae Statibus Sive Modis Standi; De Figurae Humanae Motibus; De Pueris; De Statuis; Super Figura Humana Discursus Cabalisticus; De Formae Foeminea. The text reveals Rubens's familiarity with theoretical writers of antiquity, such as Pythagoras, as well as those of more modern date such as G.P. Lomazzo and Leonardo.
The remaining forty-nine pages are drawings, most in pen and brown ink, with several in black or black and red chalk, inscribed in Latin and Flemish, which relate to the texts. Parts of the text, and seventeen figures distributed through seven pages of the drawings, derive from the French edition of Leonardo's Trattato della Pittura (see the following lot), printed in 1651, eleven years after Rubens's death. This provides a terminus post quem for the de Ganay manuscript.
Rubens made copies after Leonardo's paintings, and is recorded as having studied Pompeo Leoni's collection of Leonardo drawings, and he could have known the theoretical writings through manuscript transcriptions. But the relationship between the Pocketbook notes, the de Ganay manuscript and the French edition of the Trattato is yet to be fully clarified. Neither MS. Johnson nor Van Dyck's Antwerp sketchbook contain the figures which relate to the 1651 printed Trattato.
The contents of the de Ganay manscript were published by C.-A. Jombert in 1773, with the title Théorie de la Figure Humaine with forty-four plates by Aveline made from the drawings (without the annotations). Five of the pages of drawings were not engraved by Aveline. The text was translated into French by Jombert.
1. Jaffé, op.cit., pp. 37-38
2. Rubens' Pocketbook will be the subject of a forthcoming volume in the Corpus Rubenianum series, written by Arnout Balis and David Jaffé. For the most recent commentary on the Pocketbook, and a summary of the most recent literature, see D. Jaffé, 'Rubens's lost 'pocketbook': some new thoughts,' The Burlington Magazine, CLII, February 2010, pp. 94-8
3. Jaffé, op.cit., p.35
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