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Details & Cataloguing

Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale

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Sir Anthony van Dyck
ANTWERP 1599 - 1641 LONDON
PORTRAIT OF QUEEN HENRIETTA MARIA (1609–1669)
later inscribed, centre left: Henrietta Maria
oil on canvas, extended
127 by 81.3 cm.; 50 by 32 in. (extended in the 18th century by another hand, possibly Sir Joshua Reynolds, to create a full-length portrait of 223.6 by 130.8 cm.; 88 by 51 1/2  in.)
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Provenance

First recorded in the collection of George Greville, 2nd Earl of Warwick (1746–1816) in 1798;

Thence by descent to David Greville, 8th Earl of Warwick (1934–1996);

From whom acquired in situ; 

Thence to the present owner.

Literature

D. H. (att. to Richard Gought), 'Pictures in Warwick Castle', in Gentleman's Magazine, vol. 68, October 1798, p. 836;

Anon., 'Pictures and Articles of Curiosity', in Inventory of the Contents of Warwick Castle, (Warwickshire Record Office CR1886/466), Ms., circa 1800, n.p. (listed hanging in the Gilt Room);

W. Field, An Historical and Descriptive Account of the Town and Castle of Warwick, Warwick 1815, p. 216 (listed as a 'Henrietta Maria – wife of Charles I – whole length – by Vandyck', hanging in the Little Study);

J. Smith, A Catalogue Raisonne of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters, 9 vols, London 1831, p. 218, no. 462;

S. Woodburne, Notes on the Paintings at Warwick Castle, (Warwickshire Record Office CR1886/783/12), Ms., 1832, no. 38 (listed hanging in the 1st Drawing Room – ‘very fine quality of Van Dyck’);

G. F. Waagen, Works of Art and Artists in England, 3 vols., London 1838, vol. III, p. 155;

C. W. Spicer, The Vitruvius Britannicus, Part V, History of Warwick Castle, London 1844, p. 36 (listed hanging in the Gilt Room);

H. T. Cooke, Warwick Castle and its Founders, 1846, vol. II, p. 5 (listed hanging in the Gilt Drawing Room);

H. T. Cooke, An Historical and Descriptive Guide to Warwick Castle…, Warwick 1847, p. 56 (listed as hanging in the Gilt Drawing Room);

Cooper’s, History of Warwick and Guide to the Castle, illustrated, 1850, p. 86 (listed hanging in the Gilt Room);

W. Kendall, Inventory of Warwick Castle, (Warwickshire Record Office CR1886/783/16), Ms., 1853 (listed hanging in the Gilt Drawing Room);

G. F. Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, 3 vols., London 1854, vol. III, p. 213;

Anon, Inventory of Warwick Castle, (Warwickshire Record Office CR1886/703), Ms., circa 1870 (listed hanging in the Gilt Drawing Room);

F. E. Warwick, ‘Warwick Castle’, in The Pall Mall Magazine, vol. XI, January–April 1897, p. 37 (listed as 'the bust by Van Dyck, the rest completed by Sir Joshua Reynolds', hanging in the Cedar Drawing Room);

Anon., Inventory of the contents of Warwick Castle, (Warwickshire Record Office CR1886/703), Ms., 1900 (listed hanging in the Cedar Drawing Room);

L. Cust, Anthony Van Dyck. An historical study of his life and works, London 1900, p. 266;

The Countess of Warwick, Warwick Castle & its Earls from Saxon times to the present day, 1903, p. 808;

‘Warwick Castle, Warwickshire. The seat of the Earl of Warwick – II’, in Country Life, June 1914, p. 845 (illustrated hanging in the Cedar Drawing Room);  

G. Gluck, Van Dyck. des Meisters Gemälde, Klassiker der Kunst, Stuttgart 1931, p. 560;

O. Millar, 'Notes on three pictures by Van Dyck', in The Burlington Magazine, vol. CXI, July 1969, p. 417 (as a very good version of the Barberini portrait);

E. Fahy in E. Fahy and F. Watson, The Wrightsman Collection. Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture, vol. V, New York 1973, p. 306 (as one of the two best versions made in England before the Barberini portrait was sent to Rome); E. Fahy ed., The Wrightsman Pictures, New York 2005, p. 124 (listed under versions/copies);

J. Farington, The Diary of Joseph Farington, ed. K. Garlick, A. Macintyre & K. Cave, 16 vols., New Haven and London 1978–84, vol. V, p. 1588 (seen at Warwick Castle, 15 August 1801);

S. J. Barnes, N. De. Poorter, O. Millar & H. Vey, Van Dyck. A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, London 2004, p. 528, no. IV.124 (as by Van Dyck).

Catalogue Note

This particularly fine painting, probably Van Dyck’s most brilliant late portrait of the Queen, is an autograph version of a picture the artist painted in 1636–37 for Cardinal Francesco Barberini (The Wrightsman Collection, New York). Acquired by the 2nd Earl of Warwick (1746–1816), who amassed possibly the greatest collection of portraits ever seen in England, it is believed to have been extended by Sir Joshua Reynolds to its present dimensions in the late eighteenth century to fit with the series of such portraits that decorated the principal state rooms of Warwick Castle.

Recorded in the Cardinal’s collection in Rome in 1639, the prime version of this portrait was probably intended as a gift for the ‘Cardinal Protector of England’ from the Queen herself (a devout Catholic who was regarded in Rome since her marriage to Charles I as the guardian angel of English Catholics) as a gesture of thanks for a large group of Italian pictures he had sent her earlier that year. Barberini also supervised the commission to Bernini for marble busts of both the King and Queen (though the latter was never executed), for which Van Dyck painted portraits as a guide in 1635 and circa 1639 respectively (see figs 1 & 2).

As was customary with Royal portraiture, before Barberini’s picture was shipped to Rome Van Dyck painted another version: the Warwick portrait. It is this picture, which is particularly finely painted in such passages as the handling of the lace and jewels, as well as modelling of the arms and hands (which are painted with an exceptionally fresh touch) upon which later studio copies, such as those at Eastnor Castle; in the collection of the Earl of Pembroke, at Wilton House; and in the National Portrait Gallery, London, are based. In addition to the quality of the handling, a number of noticeable differences between the two prime versions, particularly in the folds of the sleeves and the position of the crown, indicate that they are both the work of the master reinterpreting his own work, rather than the work of studio assistants. Securing royal subjects for sittings was notoriously difficult, and it had been common practice since Holbein’s era for artists to produce multiple versions of the same portrait from a sitting when dealing with crowned heads of state. Van Dyck only produced four independent prototypes of Henrietta Maria, excluding portraits of her with the King, of which the Barberini/Warwick type is the last official state portrait.1 Of the second prototype, painted in 1632 for the King’s Bedchamber at Whitehall, no fewer than four autograph versions exist, including those in the Royal Collection, the Loyd Collection, on loan to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, the Northumberland Collection, at Alnwick Castle, and the Cowdray Collection.

Henrietta Maria, daughter of Henri IV of France and Navarre, and Maria de’ Medici, was born at the Palais du Louvre in November 1609. Brought up mainly at Saint Germain, her early years were marred by political instability within France; her father was assassinated only six months after her birth. When Henrietta Maria was married at age fifteen to Prince Charles, later King Charles I, in 1625, it was unprecedented for a Catholic princess to be sent in marriage to a protestant court. Their marriage was, however, close and intimate; they had seven children and the King often heeded the opinion of his wife. Henrietta Maria was known to have been an amusing, active, pious, tenacious, and politically engaged Queen with an independent and highly developed taste in the arts. The 1630s, when this painting was executed, was a time of great happiness for Henrietta Maria as she enjoyed a life of peace that revolved around her husband and children, her palaces and her faith.

Even as Charles I became increasingly unpopular, and the defiantly protestant government gained power, Henrietta Maria retained a resilient hopefulness and confidence in her husband’s support beyond London. When the situation in London became increasingly unsafe the King and Queen fled. Charles I was not to return to London until the eve of his execution, and Henrietta Maria would not return until after the Restoration. The Queen did not hide quietly; from exile in Holland and France she campaigned on behalf of her husband and religion; she attempted to rally support, funds, and armies; she sold her jewels and possessions and sent her money to England to aid the King's cause until she had nothing left and could not afford to even heat her apartments. Henrietta Maria did not hear of her husband’s execution in 1649 for over a week. The news is said to have changed her forever and she wore a simple black dress for the rest of her life. She spent her remaining years in France and in England, travelling back and forth across the channel, devoted to promoting her son’s claim to the throne, to bringing up her youngest child, and to her own religious practice.

Depicted here in contemporary fashionable dress, the Queen is shown gracefully posed in an elegantly simple saffron-yellow gown, with a broad lace collar and cuffs, her soft dark brown eyes gazing tenderly towards the viewer with an expression that is remarkable for its lack of hauteur given her royal status. Her relatively modest jewels consist of a simple, large faceted diamond at the centre of her corsage, attached by a bow to a long string of pearls, together with another string of pearls at her throat and large pearl earrings. The only indication of her royal authority is hinted by the little imperial crown on the table beside her, whilst the position of her hands, folded with the palms up, one on top of the other just below the waist, suggests that she is expecting the impending arrival, on 17 March 1637, of her sixth child, Princess Anne. It is a masterpiece of restrained regal elegance, and a beautifully calm, tender portrait of one of the most dynamic women of her generation. 

First recorded at Warwick Castle in 1798, this picture was most likely acquired by George Greville, 2nd Earl of Warwick (1746–1816), one of the greatest collectors of the eighteenth century. The son of the 1st Earl and his wife Elizabeth Hamilton, sister of the great cognoscente Sir William Hamilton, British Envoy in Naples, the 2nd Earl inherited the family seat in his mid-20s. Educated at Eton, and having attended both Edinburgh and Oxford Universities, in 1776–77 he finished his training with a Grand Tour of the continent, visiting Naples and Venice, and on his return to England was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and Member of Parliament for Warwick. The 2nd Earl made it his life’s work to adorn the family seat following the extensive renovations to the castle’s interiors that had been carried out by his father, which he himself had added to further. Using his uncle in Naples, as well as a network of other agents across Europe, he filled the house with classical marbles, bronzes, silver gilt, rock crystal, Limoges enamels, Etruscan vases, richly carved furniture and exquisite pietra dura tables. His most distinguished area of collecting, however, was in seventeenth-century paintings, declaring to his uncle in 1779 ‘fine portraits are what I particularly desire’, and by 1806, when an inventory of the collection was taken, he had acquired no less than thirty-one paintings by or attributed to Van Dyck, and twelve by Rubens. In addition to Flemish paintings he collected pictures by the Italian masters and also patronised contemporary English painters, such as George Romney and Sir Joshua Reynolds; such that, by the time of his death, he had transformed what had been a fairly modest inheritance into a collection that vied in magnificence and splendour with Beckford’s at Fonthill Abbey. In 1785 John Byng described the rooms in the castle as 'sash'd with taste, and abound with a valuable collection of Vandyck portraits',2 and sufficient was its fame by 1806 that the Prince Regent, that most profligate of British collectors, paid a visit to the castle and 'went through all the apartments and viewed, en virtuoso, the valuable collection of pictures'.3

Originally a half-length portrait, like the Barberini picture, soon after the painting was acquired by the 2nd Earl it was extended to its present format so that it could be incorporated into the series of full-length portraits that decorated the principal state rooms of the castle, first in the Gilt Room and later in the Cedar Drawing Room (see fig. 3). This extension is traditionally associated with Reynolds, who we know from documentary evidence relating to other collections carried out similar adaptations and restoration on paintings for major patrons.4 Given the longstanding relationship between Sir Joshua and the family, and the Earl’s position as one of his most important patrons (Reynolds had first painted Warwick as a boy, aged 8, and had been heavily patronised by his father), as well as the evident quality of the handling in the extensions, it seems highly plausible that it could be by his hand, and certainly could well have been done in his studio. It is interesting to note that of the three other full-length portraits of Henrietta Maria by Van Dyck at least one, that painted for Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange, and now in the Schlossmuseum, Oranienburg, has also been extended, both at the top and bottom of the canvas. As, too, has a portrait of the Queen in the Northumberland collection, one of the four previously mentioned Whitehall Bedchamber paintings, which was extended on both sides in the early nineteenth century to fit a frame designed by Giovanni Montirolo as part of the redecoration of the interior of Alnwick Castle carried out for the 4th Duke.

1. An additional three informal head studies of the Queen were produced by Van Dyck for Bernini circa 1639–42, for which the artist struggled for a number of years to secure a sitting, one of which is illustrated as fig. 1.

2. C. B. Andrews (ed.), The Torrington Diaries, vol. I, London 1934, p. 230.

3. The Morning Chronicle, 9 September 1806.

4. See E. W. Harcourt (ed.) The Harcourt Papers, 13 vols, 1880–1905, vol. III, Oxford 1880, p. 230, for an account of Reynolds working on a copy of Rubens’ The Carters.

Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale

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