THE RUBENS HOUSE IS PULLING ANOTHER STUNT

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 — A ‘new’ self-portrait by Anthony van Dyck, a masterpiece beyond doubt, has recently been discovered. It is almost identical to the famous Self-Portrait by Van Dyck at The National Portrait Gallery in London, which caused quite a stir a few years ago. And again, the Rubens House is the first in the world to show this new work to the general public. Together with six other new loans.

Van Dyck’s showpiece
Anthony van Dyck was Peter Paul Rubens’ most famous and most accomplished student. The self-portrait that has surfaced was commissioned by the English King Charles I. Self-portraits of successful artists were prized collectors’ items, of which Charles I had a small, but exquisite collection that included Titian, Bronzino, Giulio Romano, Rubens and Van Dyck. Charles I had tremendous admiration and affection for his court painter Anthony van Dyck, as evidenced by his words on Van Dyck’s tombstone in London: ‘Anthony van Dyck, who while he lived gave immortality to many’.

The Self-portrait in the Rubens House is almost identical to that of The National Portrait Gallery in London, except that Anthony’s moustache in this portrait is turned upwards. Van Dyck presents himself to Charles I in a formal manner. The drooping moustache on the painting in London suggests that Van Dyck created this portrait for himself. Until recently, the work was, due to it being repainted and re-framed in a rectangular mount, attributed to his successors. Research has now shown, though, that it is a real Van Dyck. Such a self-portrait was a real showpiece of an artist’s talents. The painter chose how he wanted to be seen. Choosing the right profile and vanity are certainly not only of our (facebook) time.

International premiere for Maerten de Vos
Not only Anthony Van Dyck’s Self-portrait is having its international premiere in the Rubens House, but also The Calumny of Apelles by Maerten de Vos. The talented De Vos may be less known to the general public, he is best introduced as Rubens’ forerunner.

The Calumny of Apelles was a theme with which De Vos could present himself as a learned Renaissance artist. Apelles, the most famous painter of the Hellenistic Period, was blasphemously accused of conspiracy against the Macedonian General Ptolemy. The latter was about to have Apelles executed when the truth about his innocence came to light and the painter was acquitted. The theme was rediscovered in the early 15th century when it enjoyed great popularity. In the Netherlands, Apelles was considered the personification of the perfect painter. That is how Rubens was repeatedly praised as ‘the Apelles of his time’. The panel by Maarten de Vos is now the only known painted version of the theme from the Netherlands. In 2019, the work will be on display in the refurbished Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp as a long-term loan.

LinkedIn at the time of Rubens
Another reason for a visit to the Rubens House is the Jupiter Head by Anthony van Dyck and the Study Head of an old woman by Jacob Jordaens. The Jupiter Head is an excerpt from the skilful work Jupiter and Antiope, of which Dyck produced several versions. The painting in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent is dated around 1620. Van Dyck was still young at that time and greatly influenced by his teacher Rubens. The expressive, muscular and bearded Jupiter is reminiscent of old men who feature in Rubens’ compositions. The study shows a hunched and horned Jupiter, disguised as a satyr, a lewd and cunning mythological hooved creature. The Study Head of an old woman by Jacob Jordaens is preliminary work. He was, besides Rubens and Van Dyck, one of the protagonists of Flemish Baroque painting. Even though Jordaens was greatly influenced by Rubens, he developed his own distinct style. Like many masters, he made studies of live models. He later used those expressive ‘heads’ in his paintings. The way the Antwerp master modelled the face of an old woman, with visible wrinkles in her neck and on her face and a blush on her cheeks, turns her into a distinctive and lively character.

The beautiful portraits of Elisabeth of France and of Ferdinando Gonzaga by the talented Frans Pourbus the Younger can also be admired at the Rubens House. The detail of the gold-coated armour of the young man and the attire embroidered with gold thread of the ten-year-old Elisabeth shows off Pourbus’ masterly talent as a portrait painter. Jan Cossiers creates an unknown, but reliable man in the lifelike portrait of a gentleman. Both painters were Rubens’ business relations. Rubens worked with Pourbus in the same studio in the Italian Mantua and with Cossiers in the 1630s on a regular basis.

The Rubens House continues to amaze
For many museums, it has become unaffordable to buy work by big names, including Van Dyck. The Rubens House loans work from private and public collections so that visitors can derive maximum enjoyment from the work of Rubens and his talented contemporaries. The new loans are all examples of paintings that can be admired at the Rubens House – the place where some of the artists spent part of their lives.

The Rubens House loans rotate regularly. Please visit our website for the latest information.
The Rubens House, Wapper 9-11, B-2000 Antwerp
www.rubenshuis.be

Nadia De Vree, Media Coordinator for Antwerp Museums and Heritage
+32 475 36 71 96, nadia.devree@stad.antwerpen.be

Responsible alderman: Philip Heylen, Alderman for Culture, the Economy, City and Neighbourhood Maintenance, Heritage and Religious Faiths

 

Appendix 1

Press release the Rubens House – 07.03.2016

The Rubens House is pulling another stunt

A ‘new’ self-portrait by Anthony van Dyck, a masterpiece beyond doubt, has recently been discovered. It is almost identical to the famous Self-Portrait by Van Dyck at The National Portrait Gallery in London, which caused quite a stir a few years ago. And again, the Rubens House is the first in the world to show this new work to the general public. Together with six other new loans. 

Van Dyck’s showpiece

Anthony van Dyck was Peter Paul Rubens’ most famous and most accomplished student. The self-portrait that has surfaced was commissioned by the English King Charles I. Self-portraits of successful artists were prized collectors’ items, of which Charles I had a small, but exquisite collection that included Titian, Bronzino, Giulio Romano, Rubens and Van Dyck. Charles I had tremendous admiration and affection for his court painter Anthony van Dyck, as evidenced by his words on Van Dyck’s tombstone in London: ‘Anthony van Dyck, who while he lived gave immortality to many’.

The Self-portrait in the Rubens House is almost identical to that of The National Portrait Gallery in London, except that Anthony’s moustache in this portrait is turned upwards. Van Dyck presents himself to Charles I in a formal manner. The drooping moustache on the painting in London suggests that Van Dyck created this portrait for himself. Until recently, the work was, due to it being repainted and re-framed in a rectangular mount, attributed to his successors. Research has now shown, though, that it is a real Van Dyck. Such a self-portrait was a real showpiece of an artist’s talents. The painter chose how he wanted to be seen. Choosing the right profile and vanity are certainly not only of our (facebook) time.

International premiere for Maerten de Vos

Not only Anthony Van Dyck’s Self-portrait is having its international premiere in the Rubens House, but also The Calumny of Apelles by Maerten de Vos. The talented De Vos may be less known to the general public, he is best introduced as Rubens’ forerunner.

The Calumny of Apelles was a theme with which De Vos could present himself as a learned Renaissance artist. Apelles, the most famous painter of the Hellenistic Period, was blasphemously accused of conspiracy against the Macedonian General Ptolemy. The latter was about to have Apelles executed when the truth about his innocence came to light and the painter was acquitted. The theme was rediscovered in the early 15th century when it enjoyed great popularity. In the Netherlands, Apelles was considered the personification of the perfect painter. That is how Rubens was repeatedly praised as ‘the Apelles of his time’. The panel by Maarten de Vos is now the only known painted version of the theme from the Netherlands. In 2019, the work will be on display in the refurbished Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp as a long-term loan.

LinkedIn at the time of Rubens

Another reason for a visit to the Rubens House is the Jupiter Head by Anthony van Dyck and the Study Head of an old woman by Jacob Jordaens. The Jupiter Head is an excerpt from the skilful work Jupiter and Antiope, of which Dyck produced several versions. The painting in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent is dated around 1620. Van Dyck was still young at that time and greatly influenced by his teacher Rubens. The expressive, muscular and bearded Jupiter is reminiscent of old men who feature in Rubens’ compositions. The study shows a hunched and horned Jupiter, disguised as a satyr, a lewd and cunning mythological hooved creature. The Study Head of an old woman by Jacob Jordaens is preliminary work. He was, besides Rubens and Van Dyck, one of the protagonists of Flemish Baroque painting. Even though Jordaens was greatly influenced by Rubens, he developed his own distinct style. Like many masters, he made studies of live models. He later used those expressive ‘heads’ in his paintings. The way the Antwerp master modelled the face of an old woman, with visible wrinkles in her neck and on her face and a blush on her cheeks, turns her into a distinctive and lively character.

The beautiful portraits of Elisabeth of France and of Ferdinando Gonzaga by the talented Frans Pourbus the Younger can also be admired at the Rubens House. The detail of the gold-coated armour of the young man and the attire embroidered with gold thread of the ten-year-old Elisabeth shows off Pourbus’ masterly talent as a portrait painter. Jan Cossiers creates an unknown, but reliable man in the lifelike portrait of a gentleman. Both painters were Rubens’ business relations. Rubens worked with Pourbus in the same studio in the Italian Mantua and with Cossiers in the 1630s on a regular basis. 

The Rubens House continues to amaze

For many museums, it has become unaffordable to buy work by big names, including Van Dyck. The Rubens House loans work from private and public collections so that visitors can derive maximum enjoyment from the work of Rubens and his talented contemporaries. The new loans are all examples of paintings that can be admired at the Rubens House – the place where some of the artists spent part of their lives.

The Rubens House loans rotate regularly. Please visit our website for the latest information.

The Rubens House, Wapper 9-11, B-2000 Antwerp

www.rubenshuis.be

 

Appendix 2

Maerten De Vos (1532-1603), The Calumny of Appeles, Oil on panel, Long-term loan, private collection, Luxembourg

On the right of it sits a man with very large ears, almost like those of Midas, extending his hand to Slander while she is still at some distance from him. Near him, on one side, stand two women – Ignorance, I think, and Suspicion. On the other side, Slander is approaching, a woman beautiful beyond measure, but full of passion and excitement, evincing, as she does, fury and wrath by carrying in her left hand a blazing torch and with the other dragging by the hair a young man who stretches out his hands to heaven and calls the gods to witness his innocence. She is conducted by a pale ugly man who has a piercing eye and looks as if he has wasted away in long illness; he may be Envy. Besides, there are two women in attendance on Slander, egging her on, tiring her and tricking her out. According to the interpretation of them given me by the guide to the picture, one was Treachery and the other Deceit. They were followed by a woman dressed in deep mourning, with black clothes all in tatters – Repentance, I think, her name was. At all events, she was turning back with tears in her eyes and casting a stealthy glance, full of shame, at Truth, who was approaching.

These are the words the Greek philosopher Lucian (125-180) used to describe The Calumny of Appeles, a lost, almost mythical painting dating back to the fourth century before Christ. Lucian explains how Apelles, the most famous painter of the Hellenistic Period, was blasphemously accused of conspiracy against the Macedonian General Ptolemy. The latter was about to have Apelles executed when the truth about his innocence came to light and the painter was acquitted at the last minute. In his painting, Apelles depicted in allegorical fashion, with a series of personifications of human states of mind and moral concepts, the unjust situation in which he had found himself.

Lucian’s text was rediscovered, translated and distributed in the early 15th century, and enjoyed great popularity both in the literature and the visual arts. In imitation of the Italian artists, such as Mantegna (1431-1506), Botticelli (1445-1510) and Zuccaro (ca.1540-1609), the theme also inspired northern artists. In the Netherlands, Apelles was considered the perfect painter personified. So Rubens was repeatedly hailed as ‘the Apelles of his time’. The Calumny of Appeles was also a label which a master could use to present himself as a learned Renaissance artist. Pieter Bruegel the Elder (approx. 1525-1569) and later Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) revisited the theme, but nobody devoted so much attention to it as Maerten de Vos. His panel is now the only known painted version of the topic originating from the Netherlands, something which contributes to the uniqueness and importance of the painting.

Maerten de Vos (1532-1603) grew up in an artistic family in Antwerp. He learned the trade from his father, Pieter de Vos, and Frans Floris (1517-1570). After his apprenticeship, he allegedly took a trip to Italy where he worked in the studios of Tintoretto (1518-1594). Back in Antwerp, he registered as master in the Guild of St Luke in 1558, which is when he pocketed his first major assignments. As with the other artists, the religious disputes and ongoing religious violence of the 16th century affected De Vos as a Lutheran. Initially, his work leaned towards Reformation. Thanks to a well-developed sense of adaptability, however, he also secured commissions from Catholic clients.  After the Fall of Antwerp in 1585, De Vos became a renowned painter of great Catholic altarpieces.

For his Calumny of Apelles, Maerten de Vos took his inspiration from a famous print by Giorgio Ghisi (1520-1582) after a painting by Luca Penni (ca.1500/1504-1556).  Ghisi’s print must have circulated in Antwerp in the last quarter of the 16th century. Some very specific elements – such as the safety net as the attribute of the character Fraud and the addition of Time as the father of Truth – are unique to both compositions. De Vos, however, did not blindly copy the print.  While ignoring those elements that did not entirely reflect the literary subtleties, he was undoubtedly familiar with Lucian’s description, which he followed faithfully.

In 1594, De Vos was involved in the city’s preparations for the Joyous Entry of Ernest of Austria in Antwerp. For this, he made preliminary drawings that show striking stylistic similarities with The Calumny of Appeles. It seems that he also used these drawings for the painting. The Calumny of Appeles was probably created in the last ten years of his life. The secular theme and completely naked figure of Truth make it a unique, significant and intriguing piece in his late works.

Many questions about this unknown masterpiece remain unanswered to this day.  For example, who this composition commissioned by? The legal theme and size of the panel suggest that the painting was intended for a public building, such as a court.  The client, however, may also have been a humanist collector with an interest in the ancient topic.   Also, the meaning of the scene and the underlying message have not been fully clarified to this day. For example, De Vos’ allegorical personification of Repentance was a contemporary religious character, and Jealousy hid a harness under his rags. Does the painting carry a veiled political or religious message? While those idiosyncrasies appeal to the imagination, they still raise many questions.

Having been in private collections for centuries, The Calumny of Appeles by Maerten de Vos is being presented to an international audience for the first time, at only a stone’s throw from the house of the master. From 2019 onwards, the work will form part of the collection of the new Museum of Fine Arts.  Until then, the painting can be admired at the Rubens House.

Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), Self-portrait, Oil on canvas, 1635-1641, Long-term loan, private collection

Anthony van Dyck was Peter Paul Rubens’ most famous and most accomplished student. The self-portrait that has surfaced was probably commissioned by the English King Charles I. Self-portraits of successful artists were prized collectors’ items, of which Charles I had a small, but exquisite collection that included Titian, Bronzino, Giulio Romano, Rubens and … Van Dyck. Charles I had tremendous admiration and affection for his court painter Anthony van Dyck, as evidenced by his words on Van Dyck’s tombstone in London: ‘Anthony van Dyck, who while he lived gave immortality to many’.

The Self-portrait in the Rubens House is almost identical to that of The National Portrait Gallery in London, except that Anthony’s moustache in this portrait is turned upwards. The drooping moustache on the painting in London is much more informal, suggesting that Van Dyck probably created this portrait for himself.

Until recently, the work was, due to it being repainted and re-framed in a rectangular mount, attributed to his successors. Research has now shown, though, that it is a real Van Dyck. As such, a self-portrait has now been added to the oeuvre of this Antwerp prodigy. Such a self-portrait was a real showpiece of an artist’s talents. The painter chose how he wanted to be seen.

Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) (attributed to), Study head of Jupiter, Oil on canvas, Long-term loan, private collection, Luxembourg

This Jupiter could be a study for Van Dyck’s compositions of Jupiter who, hidden in the form of a satyr, accompanied by an eagle, seduces a sleeping Antiope.  The painting Jupiter and Antiope in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent is dated around 1620. Van Dyck was still young at that time and greatly influenced by his teacher Rubens. The expressive, muscular and bearded Jupiter is reminiscent of the old men featured in Rubens’ compositions. The study shows a hunched and horned Jupiter, disguised as a satyr, a lewd and cunning mythological hooved creature. Thanks to the finished painting at the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent, it is possible to work out the role of the disguised god. After all, in the work by Ovid, the Roman poet, we read that Jupiter, the most prevalent seducer of the gods, seduced a sleeping Antiope. Out of this love tryst, twins were born.

Frans Pourbus de Jonge (1569-1622), Portrait of Elisabeth of France, later Isabella, Queen of Spain (1602-1644), Oil on canvas, Long-term loan, private collection, Luxembourg

The girl in this portrait is Elisabeth of France, daughter of Henry IV, King of France, and Maria de’ Medici. This recently rediscovered work by the Antwerp master Frans Pourbus the Younger shows the girl aged ten, richly bejewelled and wearing a dress embroidered with gold-thread. The painting is one of a series of royal portraits which Pourbus painted during his employ at the French royal court. Through her marriage in 1615 with the Spanish Philip IV, Elisabeth later became Queen of Spain.

Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678), Study head of an old woman, Oil on paper, transferred to panel, Temporary loan, private collection, Antwerp

Alongside Rubens, Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678) was one of the protagonists of Flemish Baroque painting. As a young painter, Jordaens may have worked in Rubens’ studio for a while.  Although he was greatly influenced by him, Jordaens developed his own style.

While Jordaens’ body of work includes a number of similar studies of old women’s heads which can be linked to some of his paintings, it has proved impossible so far to link this study to a specific work. Having said that, the woman depicted does seem to occur frequently in his work. The way the Antwerp master modelled her face, with visible wrinkles on her neck and face and a blush on her cheeks, turns the old woman into a typical, distinctive and lively character.

Frans Pourbus the Younger (1569-1622) (attributed to), Portrait of Ferdinando Gonzaga (1587-1626), Oil on canvas, Temporary loan, private collection, Antwerp

Like Rubens, Frans Pourbus the Younger was not only a master in Antwerp, but also a court painter of the Count of Mantua, Vicenzo Gonzaga. This portrait depicts the son of the Duke, Ferdinando Gonzaga, who later would succeed his father as ruler of the city. The detail of the gold-coated armour of the young man shows off Pourbus’ masterly talent as a portrait painter.

Jan Cossiers (1600-1671), Portrait of a gentleman, Oil on panel, approx. 1620, Temporary loan, private collection, Antwerp

Jan Cossiers was an assistant of Rubens. In the second half of the 17th century, he became one of Antwerp’s most important masters. Typical of Cossiers are his delicate, lifelike portraits. The painting now on display in the Rubens House is a good example of this. The young man’s left hand, which is resting securely on his waist, gives a self-assured and dignified impression. Cossiers’ work is strongly influenced by Carravagio. In this portrait, he carefully plays with light and shadow.

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Nadia De Vree

Media coordinator for Antwerp Museum and Heritage

Stad Antwerpen