Studio of Frans Pourbus II (Antwerp 1569-1622 Paris)
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Studio of Frans Pourbus II (Antwerp 1569-1622 Paris)

Portrait of Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua (1562-1612), half-length, in ceremonial armour and ruff, wearing the Order of the Golden Fleece; and Portrait of Eleanor de' Medici, Duchess of Mantua (1567-1611), half-length, in a richly embroidered black dress embellished with diamonds, a lace ruff and pearl headdress

Details
Studio of Frans Pourbus II (Antwerp 1569-1622 Paris)
Portrait of Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua (1562-1612), half-length, in ceremonial armour and ruff, wearing the Order of the Golden Fleece; and Portrait of Eleanor de' Medici, Duchess of Mantua (1567-1611), half-length, in a richly embroidered black dress embellished with diamonds, a lace ruff and pearl headdress
oil on canvas
29¼ x 21 7/8 in. (74.2 x 55.5 cm.)
a pair (2)
Provenance
Museo Mylius, Palazzo Mylius, Milan; sale, Milan, 1929, as 'Frans Pourbus II', to the following.
Heinrich Heer, Switzerland, and by descent to the present owner.
Special notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Alexis Ashot
Alexis Ashot

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Lot Essay

Having annulled his first, childless marriage to Margerita Farnese, Vincenzo Gonzaga married Eleanor de' Medici in 1584, with whom he shared a maternal grandfather, Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor. Eleanor bore him six children, the youngest of whom was espoused to the Emperor Ferdinand II. Vincenzo was a major patron of the arts and sciences, and turned Mantua into a vibrant cultural centre, employing among others the itinerant painters Frans Pourbus and Sir Peter Paul Rubens. Pourbus spent a year working at the Court of the Archdukes Albert and Isabella in Brussels before being appointed Chief Portrait Painter to Vincenzo Gonzaga, in 1600. The present portraits relate to half-length portraits of the sitters that Pourbus executed shortly after his arrival in Mantua, in c. 1600-1602; that of Vincenzo is now lost, but that of Eleanor is preserved in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence (see B. Ducos, Frans Pourbus Le Jeune (1569-1622), Quetigny, 2001, pp. 203-7, nos. P.A.22 and P.A.19 respectively). The originals include richly draped curtains behind the sitters and Eleanor is shown holding her necklace. Pourbus continued working for the Gonzaga family in different guises - in 1607 he was in Naples and advised the Duke to purchase Caravaggio's Judith Beheading Holofernes (Rome, Barberini) and the Madonna of the Rosary (Vienna, Kunsthistoriches Museum) - until 1616, when he became Court Painter to Louis XIII. We are grateful to Dr. Paul Huvenne, Director of the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp, for his thoughts on this pair of portraits.

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