After Sir Peter Paul Rubens
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 1… Read more Property sold at the direction of Brenda, Lady Cook, formerly from the Cook Collection, Doughty House, Richmond (lots 169 and 170)
After Sir Peter Paul Rubens

The Virgin and Child with Saints George, Jerome, Mary Magdalene and three others

After Sir Peter Paul Rubens
The Virgin and Child with Saints George, Jerome, Mary Magdalene and three others
oil on canvas
89½ x 79¾ in. (227.4 x 222.7 cm.)
Apparently first recorded in the Palazzo S. Giacomo Balbi (owned by the Balbi della Piovera), Genoa, when in the possession of Francesco-Maria Balbi, in 1758, and copied by Fragonard there in 1761.
Recorded again in 1780, as the principal painting in the fourth Salon. Acquired by Andrew Wilson (1780-1848) (with fifteen other pictures) 5 November 1805, and acquired from him in London by
Walsh Porter (d. 1809) as 'The Family of Rubens'.
Walsh Porter; London, 12 March ff. 1810, lot 13 (unsold).
Walsh Porter; Christies, London, 14 April 1810, lot 49 (unsold). (An annotation in a sale catalogue, probably by John Smith, stated that the picture was with the King in 1823).
Joseph Gillot, Birmingham; (+) Christies, London, 3 May (5th day) 1872, lot 350 (sold 1230 gns., buyer's name indistinct).
Sir Francis Cook, 1st Bt. (1817-1901), Doughty House, Richmond, by 1875, and by descent to his great-grandson, Sir Francis Cook, 4th Bt., by whom given to Brenda, Lady Cook.
C.N. Cochin, Voyage d'Italie, III, 1759, p. 281.
C.G. Ratti, Instruzione di quanto può vedersi di più bello in Genova, 1780, p. 190.
W. Buchanan, Memoirs of Painting, II, 1824, pp. 195-6.
A. Rosenberg, P.P. Rubens, K. der K., 1905, pp. 422 and 485.
E. Dillon, Rubens, 1909, pp.172 and 232.
J.O. Kronig, A Catalogue of Paintings at Doughty House in the Collection of Sir Herbert Cook, II, 1914, no. 331.
R. Oldenbourg, P.P. Rubens, K. der K., 1921, p. 471, under note to p. 426.
P. Rosenberg & B. Bréjon de Lavergnée, Panopticon Italiano, II 1986/2000, under no. 339.
M. Jaffé, Rubens Catalogo Completo, Milan, 1989, under no. 1386.
Special notice
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium

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Lot Essay

The prototype of this painting is the altarpiece in Rubens funerary chapel in the Sint-Jacobskerk, Antwerp. It was selected by Rubens himself a few days before his death in 1640, and the cost of constructing the chapel was borne by Rubens' estate. Apart from the years of the French occupation of the Netherlands (1794-1815), it has never left the chapel. The chapel was created between 1641 and 1645/50, by which time the altarpiece was very probably installed. The altarpiece is on panel and measures either 221 x 195, or 211 x 195 cm. With such a very specific gathering of Saints it seems unlikely that it was executed by Rubens 'on spec', rather it had probably been commissioned a few years before the artist's death and not yet delivered, hence its availability.
It is presumed that the making of the copy in the chapel would not have been permitted. Therefore the most acceptable dating of it would have been after the artist's death and before the installation of the prototype as the altarpiece. Maybe it was offered to the disappointed patron, who had commissioned the original. Several authorities, most recently Michael Jaffé, have described it as being contemporary with the prototype and the work of a pupil. There has been no speculation as to the identity of the copyist. One possible candidate is Jan Boeckhorst, who is known to have worked up Rubens' paintings after his death (H. Vlieghe, 'Jan Boeckhorst als Mitarbeiter', in the exhibition catalogue Jan Boeckhorst, Antwerp/Münster, 1990, pp. 75-81).
In the years between Cochin's description of the copy (op. cit., in which he relied on the printed list supplied by the owner) and Ratti's account in 1780, the legend had grown that it had some direct connection with Rubens' family. Indeed, in the first Walsh Porter sale, it was described as the 'Family of Rubens'; in the second sale of his collection it was said that Rubens had depicted himself in the character of St. George. Earlier speculation, even more embroidered, was last referred to by Jaffé.
So far as concerns family resemblances, for the head of the Infant Christ, Rubens may well have turned to a drawing he had made of his son Frans (b. 1633). The pose of St. Mary Magdalene is similar, but not the same, as that of Helena Fourment in Het Pelsken (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum).
Both Paul Pontius' engraving after the Sint-Jacobskerk original, which was not made under Rubens' supervision, and Fragonard's copy of the present picture show a much greater height to the composition that allowed for the inclusion of the whole of St. George's flag.

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