PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF PROFESSOR EGBERT HAVERKAMP-BEGEMANN
More than two hundred drawings by other artists, reworked by Rubens, are known, and in some cases, as here, Rubens’s intervention is so comprehensive that it is hard to determine even what nationality the underlying copy originally was. In this case, suggested attributions have included Pieter Coecke van Aelst or his circle (Müller Hofstede), Hans Süss von Kulmbach (A.E. Popham), Federico Zuccaro (Michael Jaffé) and an anonymous mannerist working in the orbit of Spranger (George Keyes, in the 1977 Rudolf sale catalogue). Finding a resolution to this conundrum is not made any easier by the fact that no prototype for the composition has so far been identified.
The drawing began life as a rectangular sheet, but was at some point converted into an oval, with parts of the paper from the cut corners being used to make the additional strips at the sides (as is clear from the inconsistent direction of the lines in the paper in these areas), the whole sheet, in its new format, being pasted down onto a new backing. Although Rubens frequently did enlarge or otherwise adapt the format of his reworked copies, Belkin believes that the changes seen here were made by a later owner of the drawing, possibly Lankrink. In any case, Rubens was responsible for the comprehensive reworking of the drawing itself, redrawing contours, adding accents in boldly applied pen and ink, and creating three-dimensionality and modelling with skilful additions in yellowish-green bodycolour and white oil paint.
The sheet can be related, as Belkin has noted, to a group of drawings that Rubens seems to have collected and reworked in the 1630s.3 At this time, he seems to have been particularly interested in sculptural figures of this kind, perhaps in connection with his designs for figural elements in decorative programmes on which he was working, such as the 1635 triumphal entry of the Cardinal Infante Ferdinand into Antwerp, or the Triumphal Chariot of the Victory of Calloo.
1. Belkin, op. cit., 2009, gives the date of the Rudolf sale as 13 May 1974, and includes in the provenance another owner (Francis Thompson, Cape Town) between that date and the 1977 sale, but the drawing was in fact consigned in 1977 from the Rudolf collection, where it had been continuously since at least the time of the 1962 exhibition
2. See A.M. Logan and M. Plomp, Peter Paul Rubens, The Drawings, exh. cat., New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005, pp. 4-7, 15-18
3. Belkin, op. cit., 2009, nos. 82-85
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