Master of the Brandon Portrait (active England, c. 1530), Portrait of Charles Brandon (c. 1485-1546), 1st Duke of Suffolk, half-length, wearing the Order of the Garter. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2011

oil on panel; 22¾ x 18¼ in. (57.8 x 46.4 cm.). Estimate $300,000 - $500,000

Provenance: Charles Edward Hastings Clifton, 11th Earth of Loudoun, Doninton Park, by whom bequeathed to
Edith Maud Abney-Hastings, 12th Countess of Loudoun, Scotland.
with Norbert Fischman, London.

Literature; P. Ganz, 'A Portrait of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, by "The Master of Queen Mary Tudor"', The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, LXX, no. 410, May 1937, pp. 204-07, 210-11, as 'The Master of Queen Mary Tudor'.
M.J. Friedländer, 'Ein Vlämischer Portraitmaler in England', in Gentsche Bijdragen tot de Kunstgeschiedenis, IV, 1937, pp. 5-18.
N. Toussaint, 'Le Maître des Portraits Brandon', in B. de Patoul and R. Van Schoute, Les Primitifs flamands et leur temps, 1994, pp. 514-515, as 'Maitre des Portraits Brandon.'
M. Ainsworth, Gerard David: Purity of Vision in an Age of Transition, New York, 1998, pp. 36-8, 53, nts. 7, 54, and nts. 54-56, as 'Master of the Brandon Portrait.'

Exhibited: London, South Kensington Museum, The First Special Exhibition of National Portraits Ending with the Reign of King James the Second, April 1866, no. 71, as 'Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, K.G., by Hans Holbein'.
Derby, The Fine Arts Exhibition, 1870, no.6 as 'Hans Holbein'.
London, The New Gallery, Exhibition of the Royal House of Tudor, 1890, no. 38, as 'Hans Holbein'.
Manchester, Exhibition of the Royal House of Tudor, 1897 as 'Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, K.G., but Hans Holbein'.

Notes: In the nineteenth century, when the present painting was in the collection of the Marquess of Hastings, it was thought to be an autograph portrait by Hans Holbein of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham. It was catalogued as such in several exhibitions, including the Special Exhibition of English Portraits at the South Kensington Museum (1866) and the Exhibition of the Royal House of Tudor in Manchester (1897). Around 1930, when the painting was in the possession of the dealer Norbert Fischman, Paul Ganz rightfully recognized the sitter as Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. The scholar published this finding in 1937 (op. cit.) and, in the same article, identified four other portraits by the same hand. Since two of these works were believed to represent Mary Tudor, Ganz dubbed the artist the Master of Queen Mary Tudor.

Working independently, Max J. Friedländer published an article in the same year that offered a more convincing argument concerning the painting's authorship and has since come to be widely accepted. Friedländer connected the portrait of Charles Brandon to a preparatory drawing of a head from circa 1512-1515 in the Cabinet des Dessins, Musée du Louvre, Paris (fig. 1). The study appears on the verso of one of six sheets that form the so-called Klinkosch sketchbook. The book, which was preserved in its original state until 15 April 1889 when it was unbound and its sheets were sold separately, had been attributed to several artists (for the history of the Klinkosch sketchbook, and its attributions, see M. Ainsworth, op. cit., p. 53, nt. 7.) Maintaining that the drawings were all by the same artist and having linked the Louvre study to the Brandon portrait, the German scholar argued that the sketchbook and the painting were the efforts of a follower of David working in England around 1530. Friedländer named this artist the Master of the Brandon Portrait, and ascribed to him five additional portraits executed in a South Netherlandish style very close to that of David: the Portrait of the Duke of Buckingham (Munich, in the collection of V. Nemes), a Portrait of a young man (Munich, private collection), a Portrait of a young holding a glove and a rose (London, private collection), and a Portrait of a man with a Samson medal (The Hague, Mauritshuis). Another portrait linked to this group by Friedländer was sold at auction in 1983 as 'Attributed to Joos van Cleve' (Sotheby's, London, 6 July 1983, lot 5).

The scholar proposed three possible identities for the Master of the Brandon Portrait, all artists working in London in the third decade of the fifteenth century: Gerard Horenbout (1465-1541), Lucas Horenbout (1490/95-1544) and Jan Rav (active 1530s-1540s). Recognized as the likeliest candidate by Friedländer and subsequent scholars (Toussaint, op. cit. and Ainsworth, op. cit.), Rav is known through a Latin inscription 'JOANNES CORVUS FLANDRUS FACIBAT' (John Raven of Flanders was making this) that appeared on the now-destroyed frames of two Tudor portraits: Bishop Foxe (Oford, Corpus Christi College) and Mary Tudor, Duchess of Suffolk, whom it should be noted was the third wife of Charles Brandon. Jan Rav entered the Painters' Guild in Bruges in 1512 and may be the same individual recorded as 'Jehan Raf, peintre de Flandres', who created a map of England in 1532 and a 'pourtraict de la ville de Londres' in 1534 (destroyed) for King François Ier, as well as the 'John Raven born in Flanders', who was granted denizenship in London in 1544.

The present portrait was probably painted around 1530, when Charles Brandon was aged 45. Sumptuously attired in silk, gold brocade and brown fur, the sitter proudly wears the chain of the Order of the Garter, from which the bejeweled and enameled figure of Saint George hangs. In keeping with the sartorial trends of this period, Charles also sports a gold hat badge inscribed with the motto: 'Je tiens ... en sa cord...'. Following a well-established Northern portraiture convention, Charles rests his left hand on a parapet at the base of the frame, thereby heightening the impression that he occupies three-dimensional space. His right hand rests on the hilt of his dagger, underscoring his prominence as a military leader prepared to defend his king and country at a moment's notice. The composition is illuminated from an unseen source outside of the upper left corner. Along with the shadow cast by the imposing sitter, two additional shadows line the left and upper edge of the panel, creating the pictorial illusion that these are cast by the frame itself. This combination of strong directional lighting with a cool monochromatic background is typical of Netherlandish portraiture in this period.

Charles Brandon's appearance here can be compared to a portrait in a private collection in London (Friedländer, op. cit., p. 8), one representing the Duke at a younger age, prior to 1513, which sold at auction at Leopold Hirsh, London, in 1933 (Friedländer, op. cit., p. 6), and most tellingly, to a double portrait of Charles and his wife (Bedfordshire, Woburn Abbey), which was engraved by G. Vertue in 1748 (Ganz, op. cit, p. 205), in which the Duke once again appears wearing the Order of the Garter and gold hat badge. In all of these paintings, the viewer is confronted with the same commanding figure: almond eyes, a square, planar face, tightly pressed lips, a strong nose and (with the exception of his portrait as a young man) his distinctive beard.

Charles Brandon was the son of Henry VII's standard-bearer, Sir William Brandon, who was slain at Bosworth Field by Richard III. Raised in the royal household, Brandon formed an extremely strong bond of friendship with the slightly younger Henry VIII. When the latter became king in 1509, he appointed Charles as one of his esquires, Chamberlain of the Principality of North Wales, and in 1511 Marshal of the Royal Household. On 15 May 1513, he was elevated to the peerage as Viscount Lisle and was awarded the Order of the Garter. In that same year, Charles accompanied the King and distinguished himself as a formidable military presence at the sieges of Terouenne and Tournai, as well as at the Battle of the Spurs. To reward him for his valor, Henry created Charles Duke of Suffolk on 1 February 1514. Charles traveled to France to participate in the jousts and festivities surrounding coronation of Mary Tudor, Henry VIII's sister, following her marriage to King Louis XII of France. Upon the death of Louis, Mary had many suitors, yet she had fallen in love with Charles, who secretly married the Dowager Queen of France in Paris in 1515. Charles accompanied Henry VIII to the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520, and in 1523 led the king's army victoriously into France. In 1536 he was instrumental in suppressing the religious uprising against Henry known as The Pilgrimage of Grace, and served as one of the judges at the trial of Catherine Howard. Charles remained an intimate friend of King Henry throughout his entire life, and died in 24 August 1545 at Guildford. He was buried in Saint George's Chapel, Windsor.

Christie's. Old Master & 19th Century Paintings, Drawings & Watercolors Part I, 26 January 2011, New York, Rockefeller Plaza www.christies.com