106
106

PROPERTY FROM THE FAMILY OF EMILE WOLF

Circle of Sir Peter Paul Rubens (Erasmus Quellinus II?), retouched by Sir Peter Paul Rubens
SCIPIO AFRICANUS WELCOMED OUTSIDE THE GATES OF ROME, AFTER GIULIO ROMANO
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106

PROPERTY FROM THE FAMILY OF EMILE WOLF

Circle of Sir Peter Paul Rubens (Erasmus Quellinus II?), retouched by Sir Peter Paul Rubens
SCIPIO AFRICANUS WELCOMED OUTSIDE THE GATES OF ROME, AFTER GIULIO ROMANO
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Old Master & British Works on Paper

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Circle of Sir Peter Paul Rubens (Erasmus Quellinus II?), retouched by Sir Peter Paul Rubens
SCIPIO AFRICANUS WELCOMED OUTSIDE THE GATES OF ROME, AFTER GIULIO ROMANO
Black chalk and pen and brown ink and wash, heightened with white, cream and greyish gouache, on two joined sheets of light brown paper
432 by 590 mm
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Provenance

Prosper Henry Lankrink (1628-1692; L.2090);
Probably the Hon. John Spencer (1708-1746),
and thence by descent to his grandson, George John, 2nd Earl Spencer (1758-1834; L.1532);
Dr. Edward Peart (1756/8-1824; L.891);
The Hon. Charles Greville (1763-1832; L.549),
by inheritance to his nephew, George Guy, 4th Earl of Warwick (1818-1893; L.2600);
Emile Wolf New York,
thence by descent

Exhibited

Birmingham, Alabama, Birmingham Museum of Art, Rubens and Humanism (catalogue by J.D. Farmer), 1978, no. 46 (as Rubens, second version)

Literature

M. Jaffé, Rubens and Italy, Oxford 1977, p. 43, 110, note 20 (as Rubens, mid-1630s);
Anne-Marie Logan, 'Rubens exhibitions, 1977-78', Master Drawings, vol. XVI (1978), p. 447 (as copy by an unidentified artist);
Jeremy Wood, Copies and Adaptations from Renaissance and Later Artists. Italian Artists. I. Raphael and his School, (Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, part. XXVI), London/Turnhout 2010, vol. I, p. 350, under no. 75 (as a copy)

Catalogue Note

This grand drawing relates not only to the composition of one of a major set of tapestries illustrating the life and triumphs of the Roman general Scipio Africanus, designed, probably in the 1530s, by Giulio Romano, but also to another drawing of the same large scale, an anonymous 16th-century copy after Giulio's composition which was heavily reworked by Rubens.1 It seems likely that that drawing, formerly in the collection of Pierre Crozat (and by strange coincidence sold in New York only this past January2), served as the basis for this reinterpretation of the same composition, apparently executed by a member of Rubens's studio, and Jaffé and Farmer's opinion that this is a second version entirely drawn by Rubens himself is not shared by the current generation of Rubens scholars.  All the same, the quality and energy of the handling in certain passages, such as the horses' heads in the foreground or the face and plumed helmet of the standing figure to the far left, strongly suggest that the master himself intervened in places, to improve his assistant's efforts.  

Jeremy Wood, who agrees that this drawing appears to be retouched by Rubens, has also kindly pointed out, the provenance of the other version may provide the explanation as to why Rubens might have wanted to have a high quality second version made.  It seems very likely that the other drawing and another reworked copy after Giulio, the Hylas captured by the Nymphs, in the Lugt Collection3, were sold, still during Rubens’s lifetime, to Bishop Anthonius Triest of Ghent (1576-1657), and it is therefore totally plausible that Rubens would have had a member of his studio make copies of the drawings before they left, and also that he would have gone to the effort of working these drawings up in his characteristic way, to inject them with greater power and life. Although Rubens frequently reworked copies after compositions by earlier artists, these were normally copies from a different period, which he needed to rework to inject them with his own visual idiom.  This would not normally be necessary for copies made in his own studio, which would by definition be copying works that were also accessible to him in the originals, but in this case the imminent departure of the original drawings could have justified his making an exception. 

The studio member most likely to have been charged with the task of making these copies is Erasmus Quellinus, who was heavily involved, during the 1630s, in the copying and interpreting of many of Rubens’s designs for engraved frontispieces, and who frequently drew in the combination of broad, rather flat washes and extensive gouache highlights that we see here.  A rather comparably executed copy after the Lugt Collection drawing, though seemingly not as extensively reworked, was formerly in the collection of Michael Jaffé, and is now on loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.4  It was also probably made as a record for Rubens when the prototype passed to the Bishop of Ghent.

During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, this imposing sheet passed through several of England's finest drawings collections.  In precisely what order remains slightly unclear, since three of the collectors whose marks it bears (Spencer, Peart and Greville) lived at much the same time, but we have given above what we believe to be the most likely sequence of ownership.

1. J. Wood, op. cit., pp. 350-3, no. 75, pls. 11, 16, fig. 189

2. Sale, New York, Christie's, 24 January 2017, lot 86

3. Inv. 1044; Wood, op. cit., pp. 301-7, no. 49, pls. 8-9, fig. 128

4. Wood, op. cit., p. 301, fig. 129

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