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    Sale 7575

    Old Master and British Pictures

    25 April 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 66

    Attributed to Sir Anthony van Dyck (Antwerp 1599-1641 London)

    A vanitas: Two boys blowing soap bubbles - a sketch

    Price Realised  


    Attributed to Sir Anthony van Dyck (Antwerp 1599-1641 London)
    A vanitas: Two boys blowing soap bubbles - a sketch
    oil on paper laid down onto a larger panel
    25¼ x 20¾ in. (64 x 52.7 cm.)

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    Michael Jaffé published this sketch in 1979 as 'an unfinished, but well-preserved, Van Dyck of about 1617', noting that the 'brush-work itself has a rough impastive vigour, matched by the vibrant alternation in the fleshing between ruddy warmth and cool, optical grey' (op. cit., p. 41). He related this sketch to the Study of a Nude Youth, in the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin (no. 175). He also associated it with another, similar study formerly with Goudstikker, which he gave in full to Van Dyck, and with a painting in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, which he considered to be by an imitator of Van Dyck. He loosely connected this group to the pen-drawings of chubby infants on pages sixty-four and sixty-five of Van Dyck's Antwerp Sketchbook. Eric Larsen gave the Goudstikker picture and the Stockholm picture unreservedly to Van Dyck (see literature below, nos. 314 and 315), while rejecting the Dublin picture (op. cit., see no. A25), and recorded this picture as a studio replica. This composition was evidently very popular, existing as it does in various versions; it was not only repeated by Van Dyck's contemporaries, but also later, as the English copy of this picture - made while it was in the collection of Sir Joshua Reynolds - attests.

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    (possibly) Van Huls; sale, London, 1722, lot 198.
    Sir Joshua Reynolds; Christie's, London, 11-14 March 1795, lot 51 [=4th day of sale], as Rubens (175 gns. to Adey).
    John Willet Willet; sale, Peter Coxe, London, 15 May, 1813, lot 116, as Rubens (136 gns.).
    Sir Mark Mastermans Sykes; Christie's, London, 22 May 1824, lot 68, as Rubens, where purchased by Seguier for the
    Earl of Darnley, Cobham Hall (when recorded by Waagen).
    W. von Schwabach, Berlin.
    Central Picture Gallery, New York; Sotheby's, New York, 17 January 1985, lot 153, as Van Dyck.
    Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, New York, 30 January 1997, lot 227, as Sir Anthony van Dyck.


    J. Smith, Catalogue Raisonné., etc., II, 1830, p. 198, no. 715, as Rubens, 'A finished study, painted with a rich impasto of colour'.
    G. Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, 1854, III, p. 23, as Rubens, 'Of wonderful charm of nature; painted with an admirable body in a delicate transparent golden tone'.
    F.G. Stevens, On the Pictures at Cobham Hall: An Address Delivered in the Picture Gallery, 27 July, 1877, p. 6, as Rubens.
    M. Rooses, L'Oeuvre de Rubens, 1890, IV, p. 99, as 'Deux enfants font des boulles de savon...Equisse d'une authenticité fort douteuse'.
    M. Jaffé, 'A Vanitas by Van Dyck', Apollo, January 1979, pp. 38-41, pl. 1, as Van Dyck around 1617.
    E. Larsen, The Paintings of Anthony van Dyck, 1988, II, pp. 425-6, no. A44, illustrated, as a studio replica.


    London, British Institution, 1828, no. 115 (when lent by the Earl of Darnley).
    Manchester, Catalogue of the Art Treasures of the United Kingdom, 1857, no. 540, as by Rubens (catalogued by George Scharf).