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Amongst van Delen's most elaborate and successful compositions, this splendid palace courtyard has been dated by Blade (see Literature) to the mid 1630s. Rivalled by only a handful of paintings for the opulence of its baroque architectural setting, the scene is lent further splendour by the skilfully executed throng of well-dressed figures, painted by Anthonie Palamedesz., that populate the central foreground. Palamedesz. provided the figures for a number of van Delen's best works, including the large canvas in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, of 1640 and the 1641 dated Palace exterior in the Niedersachische Landesgalerie, Hanover.1 In several other works Palamedesz' figures themselves become the focus of the painting, filling the majority of the picture plane, and van Delen's setting is relegated to a supporting role; see, for example, the Musical company in a palace interior in the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam.2
Although van Delen often borrowed motifs from the graphic works of Hans and Paul Vredeman de Vries this setting seems to be entirely of van Delen's own imagination. His earlier works, prior to circa 1630, are rather more sedate and reliant on the Vredeman de Vries designs, but by the time he painted the present work the fullness of the Antwerp Baroque style had taken a firm grasp of him; his palette is brighter and lighter, his architecture is dominated by pink, white and black marble, and decorated with an excess of sculpture.
1. Blade, op. cit., cat. Nos. 63 and 64 respectively, reproduced figs. 70 and 81.
2. Ibid., cat. no. 54, reproduced fig. 147.
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