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PETER PAUL RUBENS (studio) 1577 Siegen – Antwerp 1640
The Prophets David and Daniel (after RAPHAEL) ca. 1600
red chalk with white heightening; 354 x 301 mm (14 x 11 7/8 inches)
Jeffrey Whitehead, London
Hugo Helbing, Munich, June 19, 1897, lot 252
Maurice Marignane, Paris
I, Q. van Regteren Altena, acquired in January of 1927
Rubens exhibition held by Jacques Goudstikker, August 5–October 1, 1933, no. 69
[according to a pencil note on Van Regteren Altena’s mount]
Rubens in Italien: Gemälde, Ölskizzen, Zeichnungen, Wallraf Richartz Museum, Cologne, 1977, no. 69 (as by Rubens)
Anne Marie Logan, Peter Paul Rubens: The Drawings, exhibition catalogue, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, under no. 114
Jeremy Wood, Corpus Rubensianum: Copies and Adaptations from Renaissance and later artists, part 1: Raphael and his School, London/Turnhout 2010, vol. 1, pp. 229f.; vol. 2, fig. 74
The drawing was long considered to be by Rubens. With the discovery of another drawing depicting the same two figures and either fully drawn or, more likely, at least retouched by Rubens (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), our drawing is now mostly seen as a copy of the other sheet. It was undoubtedly executed in Rubens’ studio and Jeremy Wood has suggested an attribution to Erasmus Quellinus (1607–Antwerp–1678). However, some scholars, most notably Michael Jaffé, still uphold the attribution to Rubens and suggest that the drawing was executed during the artist’s second stay in Rome 1605–08. For Jaffé it was used as the model for the New York sheet.
The drawings depict the two prophets painted by Raphael above the entrance to the Chigi Chapel in Santa Maria della Pace in Rome. The fresco was commissioned by Antonio Chigi in 1511 and the composition is sometimes also referred to as Jeremiah Dictating the Word of God to Baruch. When Rubens travelled in Italy during his twenties between 1600 and 1608, he intensely studied the works of art he encountered. He did not always copy the compositions himself but used the work of copyists, some perhaps even commissioned by himself, to add his own retouches and pentimenti. The drawings then became reference points to which the artist would return throughout his career. Raphael’s two prophets were never adapted into one of Rubens’ own compositions. The Italian master’s dynamic and sculptural treatment of drapery, however, left a strong impression on the young Rubens. It is echoed by many of the figures in the religious scenes painted by Rubens upon his return to Antwerp.
FLEMISH, first half of the seventeenth century Allegories of Temperance and Prudence (after figures by RAPHAEL)
pen and brown ink with wash and white heightening, laid down on an eighteenth-century mount; 268 x 210 mm (10 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches)
The mount inscribed below by Richardson Rubens.
Jonathan Richardson, sr. (1665–1745), London (his drystamp Lugt 2184; on verso of mount in pen and ink his shelf marks P. 96./ Zg. 94./ LL. 16.)
Sir Francis Ferrand Foljambe (1750–1814), Osberton Hall, Scofton near Worksop, Nottinghamshire;
thence by descent
The two female allegories in this intriguing drawing both derive from models by Raphael. The figure on the right is fairly closely copied from the sibyl furthest to the left in the fresco decorating the arch in the Chigi Chapel in Santa Maria della Pace in Rome of ca. 1511. The source for the woman seated in the front is somewhat more obscure. Her pose—especially in its original form before the bold retouching that pulls both her legs back into a crouching position—is clearly based on the muse seated on the right just below Apollo in Raphael’s “Parnassus” in the Stanze di Raffaello in the Vatican, also painted in 1511. The figure represents Erato, holding a kithara, here turned into a bridle (the attribute of Temperance), with her left hand. The head of Raphael’s muse, however, is turned back and looks up to Apollo whereas the female virtue in our drawing is looking to the right. Yet there are other permutations of Raphael’s invention that might have served as a model for our draftsman. Erato turns into Ariadne in Primaticco’s “King Minos Judging the Dead” in the Galerie d’Ulysse in Fontainebleau. Primaticco’s frescos, executed between 1541 and 1570, were visited by Rubens between 1622 and 1625 and copied in a ravishing sketch (now in the Louvre); they were also widely disseminated through Theodoor van Thulden’s set of etchings, published under the title Les Traveaux d’Ulysse in Paris in 1640, and could therefore easily have found their way into a Flemish workshop by the mid-seventeenth century.
Nicholas Turner has pointed out that a much earlier reinterpretation of these Raphaelesque models into figures of the Four Cardinal Virtues can be found in the monochrome fresco on the facade of the town hall of Cento—the first public commission executed by the young Guercino in 1613 (e-mail of January 8, 2014). However, some repositioning has already happened and it seems less likely that this fresco (known today only from two preliminary drawings) provided the direct model for our drawing. Another argument against the Guercino model are the annotations found on our drawing, all of them apparently color notes (whereas Guercino’s fresco was a grisaille): Next to the right arm of the figure on the left one can read “wit doorschynich” (transparent white); at the lower center “F. geelachtich wit” (yellowish white), immediately above this “E. brokaat” (brocade), and next to the head of the figure in the background “G.omberagtich” (amber-like). Jeremy Wood has kindly transcribed these annotations for us. He further notes: “As the inscribed upper case letters on the figures are F, G, H, it suggests that the drawing was larger and with more figures with at least five more color notes (A–E). These figures may have been the remaining five Virtues, or maybe just the two other Cardinal Virtues (Justice and Fortitude)” (e-mail of January 17, 2014).
There are various stylistic elements that lead to a comparison of our drawing with a sheet in the École des beaux-arts in Paris depicting Saints Distributing Alms. It is attributed to Abraham van Diepenbeck (1596 s’Hertogenbosch–Antwerp 1675) and it appears to be preparatory to an oil sketch by the artist in the Johnson Collection in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The drawing does not, however, show many similarities to other drawings by Diepenbeck whose drawn oeuvre has hardly been established. Stefan Hautekeete dates the drawing equally late but instead sees a closeness in “face type, clothing, and attitude” to Erasmus Quellinus the Younger (1607–Antwerp–1678). “Quellinus as author of this drawing would also explain the classicizing touch that is echoing the sixteenth century” (e-mail of March 5, 2014).
While we believe that due to its “fluent construction” and “new optical conception” of the way light is represented falling on to the figures (Jonathan Bober in conversation) our drawing presupposes the art of Rubens, made by an artist who might even have been to Italy in the first decades of the seventeenth century, some scholars have argued for an earlier origin. Stijn Alsteens has linked it to Frans Floris the Elder (1519/20–Antwerp–1570), comparing it especially with The Metamorphosis of Cyane from the Weld-Blundell Collection, now in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, one of the few fully accepted sheets by Floris (e-mail of December 7, 2013). While Arnout Balis does not agree with an attribution to Floris, he would nevertheless like to keep the drawing “certainly [in] the circle of that master, and not Rubens. The closest match for [him] is Crispijn van den Broecke” (ca. 1524 Mechelen–Antwerp before 1591; e-mail of February 10, 2014). Both attributions would place our drawing in Antwerp within the second half of the sixteenth century.