Thence by descent until sold, on the premises, Christie’s, 7 July 1894, lot 24, for £320 to Shepherd;
With Charles Sedelmeyer, Paris, 1898;
Matthew Chaloner Durfee Borden (1842–1912), New York;
His posthumous sale, New York, American Art Association, 13–14 February 1913, lot 27;
Mrs Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge (1882–1973), Madison, New Jersey;
By whose Executors sold, New York, Sotheby’s, 23 January 1976, lot 137 (as after Sir Anthony van Dyck, Portrait of a man);
Private collection, Germany, 1976;
From whence sold, Vienna, Dorotheum, 21 October 2014, lot 29 (as attributed to Sir Anthony van Dyck).
Sedelmeyer Gallery, Illustrated catalogue of 300 paintings by old masters, Paris 1898, cat. no. 21;
E. Schäffer, Van Dyck: des Meisters Gemälde. Klassiker der Kunst, Stuttgart 1909, p. 243;
W.R. Valentiner and A.F. Jaccaci, Old and modern masters in the collection of M.C.D. Borden, privately printed, New York 1911, p. 68, cat. no. 15, reproduced in colour;
G. Glück, Van Dyck: des Meisters Gemälde. Klassiker der Kunst, Stuttgart 1931, p. 357;
E. Göpel, Ein Bildnisauftrag für Van Dyck; Antonis van Dyck, Philipp le Roy und die Kupferstecher. Veröffentlichungen zur Kunstgeschichte, vol. 5, Frankfurt am Main 1940, p. 116, cat. no. 235;
S. Barnes, et al., Van Dyck: A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, New Haven and London 2004, p. 407, cat. no. III.AI6 (as a copy of a lost original).
The gentleman depicted is known to be Hubert du Hot thanks to prints by Adriaen Lommelin, who engraved the portrait in the same sense, and on the second state included the identification of the sitter. (In the third state of the print, the man’s head was actually replaced, and identified as the engraver Schulte Adams Bolswert.) A painted copy of the portrait in the Musée de la Chartreuse, Douai is inscribed, upper right: AET . 58 . A . 1632 ., which is an accurate indication of the sitter’s age and a very probable reflection of the original date of execution.2 Du Hot was a French nobleman born in Lille before 13 December 1573 (when he was christened in the church of Sainte-Catherine). He was a 'connétable souverain' (a ministerial post, roughly translatable as 'Grand Officer of the Crown') of the Confraternity of Saint Barbara, and married Marie Baillet, daughter of Robert and Marie Vendeville, with whom he had two children.3
The present work shares many characteristics with Van Dyck's other portraits from this period, particularly in the assured, fluid brushstrokes which characterise the sitter's features and expression. Influenced by techniques he had learned in Italy, Van Dyck started to paint more and more thinly, with a much reduced use of impasto, in more transparent layers of glazes. He has executed the head of the sitter here particularly sympathetically, imbuing Du Hot with a sense of benevolent dignity and shrewd intelligence, not unlike the portrait of Alexander della Faille, today in the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels.4
When Van Dyck returned to Antwerp from his trip to Italy in 1627 his reputation was such that demand for his work had increased substantially, particularly for portraiture, resulting in an extraordinary level of output during these five years. Van Dyck was famed for his speed of execution, but he also employed a number of assistants in his studio to expedite the supply of these commissions. As with many other portraits from this time, Van Dyck sketched the head (and probably the hand) of the present sitter from life, directly onto the canvas, before his studio worked up the background and drapery. Van Dyck himself would then have retouched and finished these areas, completed the likeness, and added such details as the ruff. Indeed, one can see the penumbra around du Hot's head, indicative of where Van Dyck's initial sketch of the head and the background colour meet, as well as the development of the artist’s thought process in having changed his mind from picturing du Hot in a flat collar – just visible below the paint surface – to having him wear the finely-pleated ruff, brought to life with rapid, deft brushstrokes to create a convincing sense of volume. In the 2004 publication, Horst Vey speculated as to whether the sitter's single hand protruding from his clothing might originally have been intended to rest on a support, such as the arm of a chair, or the handle of a sword, which may be hidden beneath his cape.
This work is first recorded in the collection of Sir Andrew Fountaine, collector and amateur architect, at Narford Hall, Norfolk, where it remained for over 100 years. In his account of his visit to Narford, Waagen described the present portrait as 'very life-like' – a tribute as pertinent then as it is today.
1 Written correspondence from Dr Susan J. Barnes, 17 July 2015; Dr. Malcolm Rogers, 12 October 2017; and Professsor Christopher Brown, 13 November 2017.
2 Oil on canvas, 107 x 93 cm.; inv. no. 197; for image, see Joconde: Portail des collections des musées de France website.
3 D. du Péage, Recueil de généalogies Lilloises. Mémoires de la Société d'Études de la Province de Cambrai, vol. 2, Lille 1907, pp. 534–35.
4 Inv. no. 575; see Barnes et al. 2004, p. 312, cat. no. III.81.
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