STUDIO OF SIR PETER PAUL RUBENS | Diana and her nymphs hunting | 彼得・保羅・魯本斯爵士畫室 | 《狩獵中的女神黛安娜與仙女》
Property from a European Private Collection
STUDIO OF SIR PETER PAUL RUBENS
Siegen 1577–Antwerp 1640
Diana and her nymphs hunting
oil on canvas
183 x 386 cm.; 72 x 152 in.
183 x 386公分；72 x 152英寸
The following condition report is provided by Hamish Dewar who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's:
The very large canvas appears to be structurally sound and the overall pattern of craquelure is secure. I did not have access to the reverse of the canvas, which has a backboard, but the canvas is certainly lined.
The paint surface has a reasonably even varnish layer and a number of significant retouchings are visible in natural light, particularly in the darker pigments of the animals and background where the retouchings appear to cover numerous historic losses. Inspection under ultraviolet light confirms that there are extensive and numerous retouchings which are most concentrated in the darker pigments and around the outer edges. There would appear to be far fewer retouchings on the flesh tones of Diana and her nymphs which appear to be more well preserved. There may be further retouchings which I could not identify under ultraviolet light.
The very large painting would therefore appear to be in stable condition and no further work is required for reasons of conservation. The extent of retouchings applied in the past should be noted.
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Commissioned in November 1636 by Philip IV of Spain (1605–1665) for his hunting lodge outside Madrid, the Torre de la Parada;
Charles II of Spain (1661–1700); documented in the 1700 inventory drawn up after his death; as hanging in the first room of the Torre de la Parada (as 'Pedro de Vox [Paul de Vos] y Rubenes');
Philip V of Spain (1683–1746); documented in the 1747 inventory drawn up after his death; as hanging in the first room of the Torre de la Parada;
Ferdinand VI of Spain (1713–1759);
Thence by descent;
Joseph Bonaparte (1768–1844), who took the painting out of Spain;
From whom purchased in 1838 by Alexander Baring, 1st Baron Ashburton (1774–1848), Bath House, Piccadilly, London;
Thence by descent to Francis Denzil Edward Baring, 5th Baron Ashburton (1866–1938);
Purchased by Asher Wertheimer, London, in 1907;
Acquired by Benjamin Thaw (1859–1933), Pittsburgh, before 1912;
Mrs Benjamin Thaw, Pittsburgh and Paris;
Her sale, Paris, Baudoin, 15 May 1922, lot 38 (probably withdrawn);
By whose Executors sold, London, Christie’s, 24 June 1932, lot 127 (as 'Sir P. P. Rubens'), 135 guineas to Floyd for Owen Smith;
Sir H. F. Owen Smith;
Mrs E. Hugh Smith, London, by about 1955 (according to a mount in the Witt Library, London);
Sold by order of Trustees, London, Christie’s, 21 April 1989, lot 60 (as studio of Sir Peter Paul Rubens), for £104,500;
Where acquired by the father of the present owner.
1700 Inventory, no. 18: 'Una Pintura da quarto varas de ancho de la Monteria de Diana con marco dorado los Animales de Pedro de Vox y las figuras de Rubenes tasada en 150 Doblones';
1747 Inventory: no. 23: 'Otro de dos varas y media de alto y quarto y media de ancho, Diana cazando con sus Ninfas y marco dorado. 9000';
J. Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné..., IX (Supplement), London 1842, p. 338, no. 352 (as joint work of Rubens, Snijders and Wildens);
G. F. Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, vol. II, London 1854, p. 102 (as Rubens, with animals by Snyders and landscape by Wildens, 'an admirable specimen of the unbounded power of Rubens’ dramatic genius');
G. Cruzada Villaamil, Rubens Diplomático Españnol, Madrid 1874, p. 321, no. 24 (as figures by Rubens and animals by Paul de Vos, described as lost);
M. Rooses, L'œuvre de P. P. Rubens, histoire et description de ses tableaux et dessins, Antwerp 1890, vol. III, p. 73, no. 588 (as joint work of Rubens, Snyders and Wildens); p. 76, no. 592; vol. IV, pp. 349–50, no. 1163 (as the figures by Rubens and the animals by Paul de Vos, described as lost);
W. R. Valentiner, 'Gemälde des Rubens in Amerika', Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, 23, 1912, pp. 268 and 271, no. 41 (as Rubens in collaboration with his pupils);
W. R. Valentiner, Aus der Niederländischen Kunst, Berlin 1914, p. 166 (as Rubens in collaboration with his pupils);
M. Díaz Padrón, 'La Cacería de venados de Rubens para el Ochavo del Alcázar', Archivio español de arte, 1970, p. 144;
S. Alpers, Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, vol. IX, The Decoration of the Torre de la Parada, Brussels and London 1971, pp. 54, 98, 110, 201 and 203–05, no. 20, and p. 205, under no. 20a, reproduced fig. 97 (as Rubens and ? P. de Vos, whereabouts unknown);
M. Díaz Padrón, Museo del Prado, Catálogo de Pinturas, I. Escuela Flamenca siglo XVII, Madrid 1975, p. 247 (as Rubens in collaboration with Paul de Vos);
M. Díaz Padrón, La pintura flamenco del siglo XVII en España, unpublished doctoral diss., Universidad Complutense, Madrid 1976, vol. 3, fols 882–83;
J.S. Held, The Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens. A Critical Catalogue, Princeton, New Jersey, 1980, vol. I, p. 272, under no. 186 (as studio, possibly a copy);
P. Lecaldano and E. Camesacsca (eds), Alle tot nu toe bekende schilderijen van Rubens, Vol II: Het werk vanaf 1620, Rotterdam 1980, p. 170, no. 1078, reproduced (as workshop, 1636–38, whereabouts unknown);
D. Bodart, Rubens, Milan 1985, p. 200, no. 918;
A. Balis, Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, vol. XVIII, part II, Hunting Scenes, London–Oxford 1986, pp. 31 and 83 (as animals fairly certainly painted by De Vos);
M. Jaffé, Rubens, Catalogo Completo, Milan 1989, pp. 353 and 356, no. 1264 (as a studio work);
H. Robels, Frans Synders, Munich 1989, p. 490, no. A315 (as workshop of Rubens);
B. Ducos in L’Europe de Rubens, exhibition catalogue, Musée du Louvre-Lens, Lens, 22 May – 23 September 2013, p. 110–111, no. 59, reproduced in colour, and p. 305, no. 60, reproduced again (as Rubens and De Vos for the animals [?]);
A. Georgievska-Shine and L. Silver, Rubens, Velázquez, and the King of Spain, Farnham 2014, p. 231 (as location unknown);
A. Vergara, 'La serie de la Torre de la Parada', in Rubens: Pintor de bocetos, F. Lammertse and A. Vergara (eds), exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Madrid 2018, pp. 216 and 222 n. 16 (as based on the sketch in the Prado; doubting the attribution of the figures to Rubens).
Lens, Musée du Louvre-Lens, L’Europe de Rubens, 22 May – 23 September 2013, no. 59, reproduced (as Rubens and De Vos for the animals [?]).
This large canvas was part of a major royal commission given to Rubens and his studio by Philip IV of Spain (1605–1665). It formed part of a series of more than sixty works painted between the end of 1636 and early 1638 to decorate the King’s hunting lodge, the Torre de la Parada, near Madrid. The composition was designed by Rubens himself, but the execution of the canvas was thereafter entrusted to his studio, and as the earliest records indicate, with the animals being painted by his fellow Fleming and frequent collaborator Paul de Vos. Listed in the inventories of 1700 and 1747, this painting was later taken from the Spanish royal collection by Joseph Bonaparte (1768–1788), whom Napoleon had made King of Spain in 1808, before disappearing from sight just over a century later.
The Torre de la Parada was built in 1635–36 around an older sixteenth-century tower located on a hilltop at El Pardo, about ten miles from Madrid. The commission for its interior decoration was given to Rubens in November 1636; by January 1637 – just a few weeks later – Rubens had completed the sketches. The canvases were finished by November that year but in spite of being urged to send them to Spain without delay, Rubens insisted they be allowed to dry thoroughly before being packed off. There are no contemporary descriptions of the Torre’s interior; furthermore in the early eighteenth century the hunting lodge was sacked by invading Austrian soldiers, so any reconstruction of its original appearance is no easy task.
Writing in 1971, Alpers was the first to connect Diana and her Nymphs hunting with the Torre de la Parada project in her volume devoted to the decoration of the Torre published as part of the Corpus Rubenianum.1 At that time this painting’s whereabouts were not known. Nearly all of the paintings identified by Alpers as forming part of the cycle are housed today in the Museo del Prado, Madrid, approximately two thirds of the original series. None is signed but their quality goes some way to determining the extent of Rubens’ involvement and the degree of workshop participation.
Rubens was in charge of the project, overseeing its execution by artists of his choice. The works that have been identified as part of the commission, together with the preparatory oil sketches, give some idea of the enormous task he faced. The scale of the project, which was completed in about a year and a half, meant that Rubens collaborated with other painters – among them Jan Cossiers, Jacob Jordaens, Cornelis de Vos, Erasmus Quellinus, Theodoor van Thulden – all of whom worked from oil sketches by Rubens to maintain conceptual unity. A further sixty or so animal paintings were commissioned from Frans Snyders for the Torre, and Diego Velázquez, Rubens’ leading Spanish contemporary, provided hunting portraits of the royal family.
The preparatory sketch for this painting was acquired by the Prado in 2000.2 Both the finished painting and the sketch show a stag fighting off four hounds, using its antlers to constrain two of them. The hind meanwhile darts off to the left. Diana leads the chase and aims her spear at the stag. Three companions follow in her wake, of which the final one blows a hunting horn; another hound accompanies her. Rubens’ profound understanding of classical literature is manifest in the works he designed for the Torre, which draw their inspiration from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. While the subject of this painting is in keeping with the mythological theme of the whole series, as Ducos rightly points out, the Ovidian source is not explicit – there is no Actaeon being hunted down here. Rather Diana and her Nymphs is an evocation of hunting, appropriate to the picture’s original location. Where exactly it was displayed in the hunting lodge is not known but Ducos suggests the ideal place to view it is from the right at a steep angle. This has the effect of bringing the figure group into sharp relief in a way that is reminiscent of an antique frieze.
Smith, Waagen and Rooses considered this canvas to be a collaborative work between Rubens, Snyders and Wildens, while Valentiner opted for a less specific attribution to Rubens and pupils. Jaffé viewed it a workshop piece. Held, who knew the work only from a photograph, maintained than the figures were not by Rubens. In the opinion of Díaz Padrón, this painting was among those painted by Rubens himself in collaboration with Paul de Vos.3 Alpers referred to the 1700 inventory, where the painting is attributed to Rubens and ‘Pedro de Vox’, pointing out the orthographic error (the name should read Paul not Pedro). For her, the attribution to Rubens, Snyders and Wildens seemed unlikely, given the context of the series. She attributed the painting to Rubens and perhaps de Vos, with the caveat that any discussion was hampered by the absence of reliable photographic evidence. Arnout Balis, following first-hand inspection of the canvas, judged the animals to be almost certainly the work of Paul de Vos. Vergara, writing recently about Rubens' preparatory oil sketches for the Torre de la Parada series, has rejected the attribution of the figures in the finished painting to Rubens, while for Ducos, Diana and her Nymphs hunting preserves all the energy of the oil sketch and is a work by Rubens and an animal painter, probably De Vos.
NOTE ON PROVENANCE
This imposing painting, with its sweeping composition, used to belong to Alexander Baring (1774–1848), the son of Sir Francis Baring, founder of the great banking dynasty. His strong interest in the arts and collecting led him to amass one of the most important nineteenth-century collections. Created 1st Baron Ashburton in 1835, Alexander Baring's pictures were divided between his country estate, The Grange, Northington, Hampshire, and Bath House, London, later known as the ‘Palazzo di Piccadilly’, when the collection was expanded by his son and heir, William Bingham Baring, 2nd Lord Ashburton (1799–1864). On a visit to the London house in 1851, Gustav Waagen saw Diana and her Nymphs hanging with other works by Rubens and gave a full account of the collection, describing the late Lord Ashburton as follows: ‘Uniting an ardent love for the fine arts with extraordinary wealth, he expended very large sums in the gratification of his taste, and succeeded in acquiring a choice collection of Dutch and Flemish pictures from the most celebrated cabinets in Europe’.4
1 Alpers 1971, see especially pp. 203–05. The painting is not listed in the 1794 inventory drawn up during the reign of Charles IV (1748–1819); see Alpers pp. 351–54.
2 P07765; oil on panel, 26.6 x 57.2 cm.; formerly in the collection of Major General Harold Wernher, Bart., Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire; see Held 1980, vol. I, p. 272, no. 186, reproduced as plate 195.
3 See Díaz Padrón 1975, p. 247.
4 Waagen 1854, vol. II, p. 97.