HUBERT ROBERT (PARIS 1733-1808)
HUBERT ROBERT (PARIS 1733-1808)
HUBERT ROBERT (PARIS 1733-1808)
HUBERT ROBERT (PARIS 1733-1808)
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WORKSHOP OF PETER PAUL RUBENS (SIEGEN 1577-1640 ANTWERP)

Head of a sphinx in profile

Details
WORKSHOP OF PETER PAUL RUBENS (SIEGEN 1577-1640 ANTWERP)
Head of a sphinx in profile
black chalk, heightened with white, on light brown paper
18 ¾ x 15 in. (47.6 x 38.1 cm.)
(2)together with a copy attributed to the circle of Peter Paul Rubens, Head of sphinx in profile, red chalk (ii)
20 x 14 5⁄8 in. (50.6 x 37.3 cm.)
Provenance
i:
Padre Sebastiano Resta (1635-1714), Rome (L. 2992).
John, Lord Somers (1651-1716) (L. 2981).
Jonathan Richardson, Sr. (1667-1745), London, (L. 2184, his mount with associated shelfmarks ‘P. 19 [...]/ N. 43: Zt. 21 zt’, and the attribution ‘This Dr: in my L.d Somers’s/ collection stood Thus ascrib’d,/ but I believe ’tis of Rubens'.
Jan van Rijmsdijk (active 1730-1788⁄1789), London (L. 2167).
Mrs. H. Fröhlich.
with P. & D. Colnaghi, London (Exhibition of Old Master Drawings, April-May 1952, no. 16, as by Rubens).
Acquired from the above by Michael Jaffé (1923-1997), Cambridge; his heirs ; Christie’s, London, 7 July 2010, lot 343 (as attributed to Rubens).
Acquired by the present owner at the above sale.

ii:
E.A. Wringham, Alnwick; Sotheby’s, London, 22 July 1965, lot 147 (without attribution).
Michael Jaffé (1923-1997), Cambridge; his heirs; Christie’s, London online, 27 November - 5 December 2019, part of lot 17 (as Circle of Rubens).
Acquired by the present owner at the above sale.
Literature
i:
M. Jaffé, ‘Rubens’ Drawings at Antwerp’, The Burlington Magazine, XCVIII, no. 642, September 1956, p. 314, n. 5 (as by Rubens).
M. Jaffé, Jacob Jordaens 1593-1678, exhib. cat., Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, 1968-1969, p. 165, under no. 159, pl. IV (as by Rubens).
J. Wood, ‘Padre Resta’s Flemish Drawings. Van Diepenbeeck, Van Thulden, Rubens, and the School of Fontainebleau’, Master Drawings, XXVIII, no. 1, Spring 1990, p. 45, n. 20 (citing Landsowne MS. 802 at the British Library, London, as Annibale Carracci).
M. Merrony, Mougins Museum of Classcial Art, Mougins, 2011, p. 296 (as by Rubens).
V. Herremans, ‘Peter Paul Rubens and the Decoration of the Jesuit Church in Antwerp’, Jaarboek Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten/Antwerp Royal Museum Annual 2013-2014, Antwerp, 2017, p. 59 (as by Rubens).
R. Fabri and P. Lombaerde, Rubens. The Jesuit Church of Antwerp, London and Turnhout 2018 (Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, XXII (3)), pp. 29, 86, 117, 119, 163-166, no. 7a, fig. 63 (as attributed to Rubens or retouched by him).
A.-M. Logan and K. Lohse Belkin, The Drawings of Peter Paul Rubens. A Critical Catalogue. Volume Two. 1609-1620, Turnhout, 2022, I, p. 294, under no. 4 (as not by Rubens).

ii:
R.-A. d’Hulst, ‘Jordaens’, The Art Bulletin, LI, 1969, p. 384 (as not by Jordaens).
Fabri and Lombaerde, op. cit., p. 164, under no. 70, fig. 70, p. 238 (as after Rubens).
Exhibited
i:
Helsinki, Suomen Taideakatemia Ateneum, P.P. Rubens. Luonnoksia ja piirustuksia sekä grafiikkaa mestarin teosten mukaan/ P.P. Rubens. Skisser och teckningar samt grafik efter mästarens verk, 1952-1953, no. 49 (as by Rubens).
Antwerp, Snijders & Rockox House Museum, Baroque Influencers. Jesuits, Rubens, and the Arts of Persuasion, 2023, p. 146, fig. 10, p. 200 (as attributed Rubens, or as Annibale Carracci retouched by Rubens; essay by R. Fabri and P. Lombaerde).
Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins, 2020-2023 (Inv. no. MMoCA94MA).

ii:
Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, Jacob Jordaens 1593-1678, 1968-1969, no. 159, ill. (as by Jacob Jordaens after Rubens; catalogue by M. Jaffé).
Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins, 2019-2023 (Inv. no. MMoCA280MA).

Brought to you by

Claudio Corsi
Claudio Corsi Specialist, Head of Department

Lot Essay


Arguably the most important architectural project in seventeenth-century Antwerp was the Jesuit church initially dedicated to Ignatius Loyola, and later to Saint Charles Borromeo. Built between 1615 and 1621 by the architects Pieter Huyssens and François d’Aguilon, it boasts decoration in part designed by Peter Paul Rubens, Antwerp’s foremost painter and a champion of the Catholic Church (Fabri and Lombaerde, op. cit.). Rubens produced in the first place numerous paintings, including two major altarpieces, both now at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (Gemäldegalerie, inv. 517, 519; see H. Vlieghe, Saints II, Brussels 1973 (Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, VIII), nos. 104, 115, figs. 6, 40). However, he also contributed to the decoration of the architecture and sculptural elements with several drawings, of which three for the façade are generally accepted as autograph (Morgan Library and Museum, New York inv. I,233, 1957.1; and British Museum, London, inv. Oo,9.28; see Logan and Belkin, op. cit., I, nos. 396-398, II, figs. 516-518).

The present drawing, of impressive dimensions and great eloquence, was made as a design for the sphinxes decorating the volutes at the top of the façade of the church, on either side of the pediment. It has been suggested that the drawing is the result of three different stages by different hands (Fabri and Lombaerde, op. cit., p. 164), but it remains open to debate whether this is the case. The traditional suggestion that it is a drawing by or attributable to Annibale Carracci (the attribution it carried in the collection of Padre Resta, as recorded in the manuscript catalogue of his collection; see Wood, op. cit.), retouched by Rubens, should probably be dismissed; it is difficult to imagine the sheet being anything else than a drawing expressly made as a design for the sculptures, either by a workshop assistant of Rubens, or by an assistant whose work was later retouched by the master (the latter view is taken in Fabri and Lombaerde, op. cit., p. 165). In any case, as a powerful design for an important element of the church’s façade, it is a significant work, illustrating Rubens’s workshop’s deep involvement in the shaping of one of Antwerp’s major religious monuments. The drawing’s prestige is further underscored by the existence of a full-scale period copy in red chalk, also included in this lot (ii).

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