John Constable, The Lock, Oil on canvas, 139.7 by 122 cm.; 55 by 48 in. (est. £8-12 million). Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Next week, The Lock, one of John Constable’s most famous compositions will reappear on the market for the first time in 160 years. The monumental landscape - depicting the countryside of the painter’s “careless boyhood” - will lead Sotheby’s London Evening auction of Old Master & British Paintings on 9th December. The sale will be further distinguished by museum-quality works, an unusually large number of which are from private collections and come to the market for the first time in several generations. These include two major Italian views by Vanvitelli, one of the last and finest depictions of the Madonna and Child by Jan Gossaert remaining in private hands, a late portrait of Henry VIII - among the greatest ever to appear on the market - and a masterful and famed portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria by the court painter Sir Anthony Van Dyck. 

Discussing the forthcoming sale, Alex Bell, Joint International Head and Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings Department said: “John Constable said it was the landscape of Essex and Suffolk, where he grew up, that 'made him a painter'. In 'The Lock', his intimate knowledge and love of this countryside is transformed through his mastery of painting into an icon of British Art. Alongside this masterpiece the sale features seminal works by earlier masters: from Jan Gossaert's 'Madonna and Child', a jewel of Northern Renaissance painting, and Anthony van Dyck's stately portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria, to stunning landscapes by Vanvitelli, the father of European view painting”. 

I was never more fully bent on any picture... my friends tell me it is my best.” John Constable
Painted circa 1824-5 when Constable was at the height of his powers, The Lock is one of only three major works by Constable left in private hands. This iconic image is the fifth in the series of six monumental landscapes popularly known as the artist’s ‘Six-Footers’, which for many define the pinnacle of Constable’s career. Together with his near contemporary, J. M. W. Turner, Constable was one of the most original artists of the early 19th century. Between them the two artists revolutionised the art of landscape painting forever, setting in train a movement that would find its fullest expression with the Impressionists. Constable is arguably the greatest ‘English’ painter in that his oeuvre represents the quintessential vision of English countryside the world over. 

Depicting a bucolic scene on the River Stour in the artist’s native Suffolk, and painted in response to the huge critical acclaim that greeted Constable's first treatment of the composition (exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1824), the picture to be offered this December was treasured by the artist. Retained by him in his studio until the end of his life, singled out by him for prestigious exhibitions, it was chosen as the basis for the engraving that was to make it among the most familiar and celebrated images in the canon of British art. Having remained in the same family collection for over 150 years, it now comes to the market for the first time since 1855 with an estimate of £8-12 million. 

I should paint my own places best – Painting is but another word for feeling. I associate my ‘careless boyhood’ to all that lies on the banks of the Stour. They made me a painter...’ 


John Constable, R.A. (East Berggholt, Suffolk 1776 - 1837 Hampstead), The Lock, inscribed on an old label, verso, in the artist's hand: Landscape: Barge passing a Lock / J. Constable R.A. 35 Charlotte St / London, oil on canvas, 139.7 by 122 cm.; 55 by 48 in. Estimate 8,000,000 — 12,000,000 GBP (10,937,597 - 16,406,395 EUR). Photo: Sotheby's.

Provenance:  he artist's sale, London, Foster's, 15-16 May 1838, lot 76, to Charles Birch for £131.5.0;

His sale, London, Foster's, 15 February 1855, lot 18, to W. Orme Foster, for £903;

William Orme Foster (1814–1900), at 6 Belgrave Square from 1855 to 1900, and later at Apley Park, Shropshire;

By descent to his grandson, Major Arthur William Foster (1884–1960);

By inheritance to his nephew, Major-General Edward Henry Goulburn (1903–1980);

By inheritance to his cousin, the father of the present owners.

Exhibited : Brussels, Exposition National des Beaux Arts, 1833 (as 'A Barge passing a Lock');

Worcester Institution, 1834, no. 141 (as 'Landscape – a barge passing a Lock on the Stour');

Birmingham, Society of Artists, 1838, no. 42;

Manchester, Art Treasures Exhibition, 1857, no. 298 (lent by W. O. Foster);

Wrexham, Museum and Art Gallery, 1876, no. 283 (lent by Mr Foster of Apley);

Birmingham, Museum and Art Gallery, Works of Art from Midland Homes, 1953, no. 5;

London, Tate Gallery, Bicentenary Exhibition, 1976, no. 312;

Manchester, City Art Gallery, 2007;

On loan to Tate Britain, London, April 2013 – August 2014.

LiteratureA Handbook to the Gallery of British Painting in the Art Treasures Exhibition, being a report of critical notices originally published in the Manchester Guardian, London 1857, p. 69;

Catalogue of Pictures etc. at Apley Park, n.d., circa 1900, p. 14;

P. Sketchly, 'British Landscape Painters', in The Art-Treasures Examiner, Manchester and London 1857, p. 71, reproduced; 

F. Simpson, 'Constable's 'Lock'': A Postscript', in Connoisseur, vol. CCXIX, March 1952, p. 39;

R. B. Beckett, 'Constable's 'Lock'', in The Burlington Magazine, vol. XCIV, September 1952, pp. 255-256, reproduced fig. 9;

R. B. Beckett, 'Constable's 'Lock'', in The Burlington Magazine, vol. XCV, March 1953, p. 100;  

L. Parris, I. Fleming-Williams & C. Shields, Constable: Paintings, Watercolours and Drawings, Tate Gallery bicentenary exhibition catalogue, London 1976, pp. 178–79, cat. no. 312, reproduced;

R. Hoozee, L'Opera completa di Constable, Milan 1979, pp. 132–33, no. 457, reproduced;

M. Rosenthal, Constable. The painter and his landscape, New Haven and London 1983, p. 152, reproduced pl. 188;

G. Reynolds, The Later Paintings and Drawings of John Constable, 2 vols, New Haven and London 1984, text vol., p. 164, no. 25.33. plates vol., reproduced pl. 603;

A. Dempsey et al., Constable. Le choix de Lucian Freud, Grand Palais exhibition catalogue, Paris 2002, p. 156; 

A. Lyles et al., Constable. The Great Landscapes, Tate exhibition catalogue, London 2006, p. 154;

'Art, City Spectacle: The 1857 Art Treasures Revisited', in Bulletin of the John Rylands Library of Manchester, 2009, vol. 87, no. 2, p. 96.

ENGRAVED: In mezzotint by David Lucas, 1834

Notes: John Constable is one of the most celebrated and influential of all English romantic artists, and his most famous paintings are among the best-loved images in British Art. This magnificent picture is such a painting, and is one of two versions by the artist of this much celebrated composition. It is also one of only three of Constable's major works left in private hands. The Lock is the fifth in the series of six monumental landscapes popularly known as the artist’s ‘Six-Footers’, which for many define the pinnacle of his career. Constable first exhibited an earlier version of the composition at the Royal Academy in 1824. The only upright landscape in the series, that painting, known today as the Morrison version, was extremely well received by the critics and sold on the first day of the exhibition – Constable’s only painting ever to do so. In common with the rest of the series, the view depicts a scene on the River Stour, at Flatford Lock near East Bergholt in Suffolk, where Constable was born. Beyond is a distant view of Dedham church, seen across the water meadows, with a barge passing downstream through the lock gates. Such were the scenes of the artist’s childhood, from which he always drew his deepest inspiration.

The year 1824 marks a turning point in Constable’s career. In addition to the triumph he had achieved with The Lock he sold two of his earlier ‘Six-Footers’ that year, The Hay Wain (1821) and View on the Stour (1822), to the Anglo-French dealer John Arrowsmith, and their reception in Paris won him a gold medal at the Salon in 1825. After years spent struggling for recognition both with the public and at the Academy, finally he was becoming a commercial success. Buoyed by the huge critical acclaim that had greeted the Morrison picture (fig. 2), and riding a wave of public demand, in 1825 Constable embarked on another version of the composition. ‘I am now finishing a copy of my Lock, which rejoices me a good deal - it is a very lovely subject’ he wrote to his wife Maria on 28 October, having written to his friend John Fisher two days previously ‘I have a half-length of a lock in hand - far better than usual'.1 It is this picture, the Foster version of The Lock, to which Constable is referring. Whilst this is the only occasion on which he made another version of one of his monumental Stour Valley series, Constable had been making copies of those of his pictures which had proved popular with collectors since the early 1820s, and it is a practise that would become increasingly common later on in his career, particularly with the numerous versions of his Salisbury Cathedral views.   


fig. 2. John Constable, R.A., the Morrison version, the first version of The Lock.

There were a number of sound reasons for Constable to produce another version of this particular picture. Constable had often complained to his friends of the pressure to complete his large scale canvases in time for the Academy exhibitions each summer, and having achieved success the first time round the production of another gave him the opportunity to further develop a tried and tested composition. It would also enable him to have a version of the composition from which to commission an engraving, and it is clear from the inclusion of a small group of birds in the sky upper right, above the trees, as well as the more emphatic rainclouds over Dedham, both of which are found in this version but which are absent from the Morrison picture, that David Lucas was working from the Foster version of the picture when he produced his highly impressive single plate mezzotint of the composition in the mid-1830s. A series of regularly-spaced pinholes around the edges of this picture, used by engravers in the transfer process for ‘squaring up’ the composition, further confirm that it is this picture upon which the mezzotint engraving, published in 1834 under Constable’s name, is based (fig. 1)


fig. 1. David Lucas after John Constable, The Lock, published 1834, Mezzotint on paper © Tate, London 2015

Finally, by painting another version of one of his most successful and critically acclaimed compositions to date, Constable could ensure that he would always have it to hand to send to future exhibitions, both in England and abroad. This indeed he did, sending the picture both to the Exposition National des Beaux Arts in Brussels in 1833, and the Worcester Institution in 1834. A label in Constable’s own hand giving the title of the picture (which is crucially very slightly different from that used at the RA exhibition in 1824), his name, and his address in London, which is attached to the back of this painting confirms that it was this picture that the artist sent to both these exhibitions, as opposed to the Morrison picture, which of course he had sold. This picture, however, he retained in his own collection until his death, and it was only sold in his studio sale in 1838. It has remained in private hands ever since, having only appeared at auction on one other occasion in 1855, when it achieved a world record price for the artist that was to remain unchallenged for more than a decade.

Together with his near contemporary, J. M. W. Turner, Constable was one of the most original artists of the early nineteenth century, and between them they revolutionised the art of landscape painting forever, setting in train a movement that would find its fullest expression nearly half a century later in France with the work of the Impressionists. However, whilst Turner is perhaps more commonly associated with the landscape of continental Europe through his sublime views of Italy and the Swiss Alps, Constable is arguably the greatest ‘English’ painter in that his work has become virtually synonymous in the popular imagination with his native landscape. Indeed to many his paintings represent the quintessential vision of English countryside the world over.

Constable’s Landscape: The Stour Valley and the Six Foot Series

'I should paint my own places best – Painting is but another word for feeling. I associate my 'careless boyhood' to all that lies on the banks of the Stour. They made me a painter...' Constable Country, as it has come to be known today – that area of the Stour Valley around Dedham Vale, on the border between Suffolk and Essex, bounded on the west by the village of Neyland, and on the east by the sea – has become synonymous with the great painter who immortalised its bucolic river meadows and shaded waterways.  A fertile and workmanlike landscape centred on the village and parish of Dedham, which had been a prosperous cloth-working town in the Middle Ages, in Constable’s day Dedham Vale was principally an agricultural centre, the main industry being founded on the production of wheat, barley and oats. Encompassing the villages of East Bergholt, Stratford St Mary, Langham and Stoke-by-Neyland, it is today an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and was a part of the country with which Constable was particularly intimate.

A white-glazed lobed jar, Song Dynasty

Map of Dedham Vale and the Stour Valley, from Mistley to Boxted, taken from the first edition of the one inch Ordinance Survey.

The artist's parents, Golding and Ann Constable, lived at East Bergholt, where the young painter was born and brought up. A prosperous miller and successful businessman, his father owned watermills at Flatford and Dedham, and a windmill on East Bergholt Heath. Golding traded corn and coal out of Mistley Wharf on the North Essex coast, operating a fleet of commercial barges on the river Stour (called lighters), as well as three dry-docks at Flatford for their construction and repair, and two sea going Thames barges for transporting goods between Mistley and London. He also owned a coal yard at Brantham and served as one of the Commissioners of the River Stour Navigation. Golding’s family had lived in the area for generations, and by 1774 he was sufficiently prosperous to buy a piece of land at East Bergholt and build a substantial mansion, where two years later his fourth child, John, was born, together with 93 acres of arable land around the village which the family farmed. The Constables’ social position, and the fact that his father owned a large portion of it, gave the young Constable unfettered access to much of the land around his childhood home, and an intimate knowledge of its gently rolling hills, picturesque villages, green riverbanks and luxuriant meadows. It was this visual reservoir, accumulated during the halcyon days of his childhood exploring along the banks of the Stour, that would not only inspire Constable’s earliest endeavours in paint but provided him with much of the raw materials for many of his greatest paintings.

It was also here, in this small area of Suffolk, that Constable met and befriended many of the people that would shape his later career. John Dunthorne, an early friend and mentor whose son would become Constable’s faithful studio assistant, owned the cottage near the gates of his parent’s house; John Reade, who lived at Old Hall, a large manor house opposite Golding Constable’s at East Bergholt who encouraged the young artist and let him sketch in his park (see fig. 4); Dr Rhudde, whose granddaughter Maria became Constable’s wife, was vicar of  East Bergholt Church; Sir George Beaumont, an early patron who played an important role in encouraging his love of painting, often visited Dedham to see his mother; and Dr John Fisher, later Bishop of Salisbury and the uncle of Archdeacon Fisher, Constable’s closest friend, who became one of the artist’s most important patrons was rector of nearby Langham. 


fig. 4. John Constable, Old Hall, East Bergholt, 1801, Private Collection, Image © Sotheby’s

The life force of the Vale was the river Stour itself, which was made navigable by an Act of Parliament in 1705, resulting in thirteen locks being installed along its length between Sudbury and the coast. Before the arrival of the railways in East Anglia, rivers and canals were the main arteries for trade, and these locks enabled the horse-drawn barges for which the area was so famous to negotiate the differences in river level and travel both up and down stream with relative ease. Stour lighters were usually linked together in pairs and pulled by a single horse, so the locks were designed to accommodate two lighters at a time. Each lighter could carry up to thirteen tons, and by pairing up the tonnage could be increased to twenty-six tons per journey, far exceeding the weight that could be transported by horse and cart. On the downstream journey the Stour lighters carried a variety of goods, particularly milled flour and Suffolk bricks, bound for London, whilst upstream they transported Newcastle coal to power the Sudbury brick factories, as well as iron, oil and night soil (i.e. manure - both human and horse!) to spread on the fields as fertiliser.

The lock at Flatford, which was adjacent to Golding Constable’s mill, was built in 1708 and originally consisted of a turf-sided structure. In 1776, the year Constable was born, it was replaced with the wooden lock gates seen in his paintings and sketches of the site. The new locks, towpaths and staunches (lock gates) needed constant attention, and the shoals of silt that built up due to the stagnation of the waters had to be regularly removed. In 1815 Abram Constable, the artist’s brother, who had inherited Flatford Mill from his father, wrote that ‘Flatford Locks are in a ruinous state, the Upper Gates therof cannot be opened without the Assistance of an Horse – also the Float Jump in the Float Meadow over the county river is very Ruinous and in Decay’2, and again in 1820 he wrote of Flatford Lock that it was badly leaking and the banks in a dangerous state.3 Constable produced a number of sketches of Flatford Lock during his lifetime, the earliest of which date to 1813 and show a rickety structure, with dense vegetation growing over the tow path. By 1823, when Constable revisited the scene in preparation for his 1824 Royal Academy composition, repairs had clearly been carried out, as his drawings from this date demonstrate (fig. 5). In 1838, one year after Constables death, the old lock that he had depicted so fondly was finally replaced, in a new position, where it can still be seen to this day.  


fig. 5. John Constable, Study for ‘The Lock’, pen and sepia wash with pencil on paper, c. 1825, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge © Bridgeman Images

The Lock is the fifth in a series of six monumental Stour Valley compositions, known as the artist’s celebrated ‘six footers’, which were exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1819 and 1825. These epic canvases represent the culmination of a process which he had begun as early as 1812 with a smaller view of Flatford Lock and Mill, and all share a common theme, each depicting a scene within a three mile radius of Constable’s family home in East Bergholt. All six have a very particular narrative, illustrating familiar scenes of everyday life on the river under a bright summer sky. They are, for many, Constable’s defining works, and include The White Horse (1819, National Gallery of Art, Washington), The Young Waltonians (1820, National Gallery, London), The Hay Wain (1821, National Gallery, London), View of the Stour near Dedham (1822, Huntington Library and Art Gallery, San Marino), The Lock, and The Leaping Horse (1825, Royal Academy of Arts, London). These six pictures largely cemented the artist’s contemporary reputation, and have served as the basis for his celebrated fame ever since.  

Constable’s love for the essentially flat and un-emphatic landscape of his native Suffolk, with its ‘gentle declivities, its woods and rivers…’4, so devoid of the sort of obvious pictorial potential that attracted artists and tourists alike to other regions of the country, such as the Lake District or Wales, was a notable deviation from the usual habits of contemporary landscape painters. Until at least 1821 Constable almost exclusively painted places that he knew, and with which he was completely familiar, in marked contrast, for instance, to Turner’s more typical practice and his voracious appetite for touring. This had obvious consequences for his art, for Constable knew his landscape, both over time and from numerous angles. He would have both seen it change over time and have been conscious of the degree to which a limited area of terrain could be differentiated topographically, with this local intimacy and memory both informing his paintings. This was a very different order of knowledge to that which most contemporary landscape painters possessed of their subjects, and applies equally to the local industry and figural activity within his pictures as it does to topographical familiarity. In The Lock the view is taken from Flatford, looking west across the Stour towards Dedham Heath, the area of raised ground seen to the left in the middle distance over which a rain shower breaks. Framed between the upright spars of the lock is a distant view of Dedham Church, illuminated by a burst of sunshine and seen across the river meadows, whilst the central foreground is dominated by the human activity of a lock keeper straining with a crowbar against the winch (known as a windlass) that will open the shutter to release the water from the lock, thus equalising the level of the river. Simultaneously he jams his knee into the gap between the windlass and the staunch to prevent it running back against the weight, as well as to give himself added leverage. Behind and to his right a bargeman steadies a Stour lighter against the racing current by feeding a rope around a snubbing post, whilst to the left the horse that has brought the barge downstream rests patiently, tended to by a boy and his dog. The scene is all movement and activity, with the sparkle of water as it cascades through the lock gates, the ripple of wind through the leafy foliage on the bank and in the trees, the scudding clouds on the horizon, and the pent up tension of both lock keeper and bargeman as they heave and tug against the strain. These are the scenes of Constable’s childhood, the everyday comings and goings of the river Stour, and he knows them with an intimacy that could be surpassed by no other artist. As he said himself – ‘…the sound of water escaping Mill dams… Willows, Old rotten Banks, slimy posts, & brickwork, I love such things… As Long as I do paint I shall never cease to paint such places. They have always been my delight.’   

Constable’s own description of his Lock as an ‘admirable instance of the picturesque’,5 closeting his work in the language of the academy, belies the revolutionary nature of this unique choice of subject matter. Indeed it was his very subject, as much as his loose impressionistic handling of paint and ground-breaking treatment of light, that so transformed landscape painting in Europe, and so inspired a younger generation of artists. View painting had, until this point, been exclusively dominated by the classical tradition of academic landscape, in the manner of Claude Lorraine and Gaspard Poussin, and had been propagated in England during the eighteenth century by artists such as George Lambert, Richard Wilson, even Gainsborough and the early works of J.M.W. Tuner. Constable’s monumental Stour Valley paintings, however, challenged convention by depicting un-idealised everyday landscapes on a grand scale traditionally reserved for religious and historical subjects, thus elevating the seemingly mundane to the heroic through scale. In this he pre-empted the work of artists such as Gustav Courbet and the French realists of the Barbizon School, including Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Jean-François Millet, by twenty years. Eugène Boudin too, the man who taught Monet to paint landscape, was heavily influenced by Constable’s work. Indeed it was the exhibition of this very picture at the 1833 Exposition National des Beaux Arts in Brussels, together with The Hay Wain at the Paris Salon in 1824, where Constable won a gold medal, which introduced his work to the French school of landscape painters and set in train a revolution in European art that would find its fullest expression half a century later in the work of the French Impressionists. During the 1870s both Monet and Picasso studied Constable’s work in London, and in 1873 Van Gogh acknowledged his debt to the English artist in a letter to his brother Theo, written from London. Whilst all these artists were influenced by the freedom of Constable’s brushwork, it was as much his subject matter as his treatment of paint that they found so radical, and so inspirational. The everyday, the ordinary and the commonplace made extraordinary. The ignoble made noble, a subject fit for the realms of high art. Look, for example, at Monet’s famous hay stacks (fig. 7), or the landscapes of Alfred Sisley and Vincent van Gogh (fig. 8), and find their inspiration in Constable’s Stour Valley paintings. Even today Constable’s art continues to inspire and influence, as was acknowledged by the late Lucien Freud who was both directly inspired by Constable’s work and saw his influence in the work of earlier 19th- and 20th-century painters – ‘I may be quite wrong’, he said, ‘but I can’t see Van Gogh’s Boots without Constable behind them’. 6   


fig. 7. Claude Monet, Grainstack (Sunset), 1891, oil on canvas, 73.3 x 92.7 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Juliana Cheney Edwards Collection, 25.112. Photograph © 2015 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  All rights reserved.


fig. 8. Alfred Sisley, Bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne, 1872, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York © Bridgeman Images

Note on Provenance 

The Foster version of The Lock remained in the artist’s studio until his death in 1837, and was then offered in the artist’s studio sale at Foster & Sons in Pall Mall on 15 May 1838 (fig. 9). The sale included several of the artists’ major masterpieces including Salisbury Cathedral (Tate Gallery, London), Hadleigh Castle (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven) and The White Horse (Frick Collection, New York). It is significant that The Lock fetched £131.50, the second highest price in the sale (the highest was for The White Horse), more even than for Salisbury Cathedral. The buyer was Charles Birch, an enthusiastic and discerning collector of art, who made his fortune from coal mines and also from shrewd sales of pictures from his collection. He had a particular interest in the works of Turner and vied with his friend, the celebrated collector Joseph Gillott, in collecting Turner’s work.7 Birch owned eleven major works by Turner including Approach to Venice (National Gallery of Art, Washington), Grand Canal Venice (Huntington Library and Art Gallery, California), The Burning of the House of Lords and Commons (Philadelphia Museum of Art) (fig. 11) and The Depositing of John Bellini’s Three Pictures (Private Collection). He also owned two other important works by Constable, The Opening of Waterloo Bridge (Tate Britain, London) (fig. 12) and The Leaping Horse (Royal Academy, London). Birch’s collection was housed at Westfield House, Edgbaston and in his picture gallery at Metchley Abbey in Harbourne near Birmingham. He was a close friend and patron of David Cox, a fellow inhabitant of Harbourne, and accompanied him on numerous sketching trips. Cox benefitted from studying Birch’s collection at Metchley Abbey and wrote to William Roberts on 2 June 1840: 'I have also promised my friend Mr Birch I would spend more time with him and as I am determined to make a fair trial in oil painting I expect to gain a good deal of information by having his pictures to look at…' One of the pictures which Cox studied was Birch’s The Lock which he hung at Metchley Abbey.8 Cox benefitted much from his study of Constable’s work, and in 1845 he drew on what he had learnt when advising his son about oil painting: 'White, I think, must be cautiously used only in such sparkling touches as Constable did'. In 1854 the celebrated German art historian Gustav Waagen travelled around Birmingham and visited Birch to see his collection and it was almost certainly The Lock which elicited from him the following comment: 'A large landscape. The masterly hand with which nature is here represented in form, colouring and aerial effect, renders this one of his most important works.'9 The vicissitudes of the coal trade led Birch to sell pictures at various times in the 1840s and 1850s, and The Lock was included in a sale from Westfield House held by Foster and Son in Pall Mall on 15 February 1855 (fig. 10). The sale also included major works by Wilkie, Maclise and Landseer. The Lock was sold to William Orme Foster for £903.10 This was the record price for a work by Constable, and remained so until 1866 when George Young sold The Hay Wain (National Gallery, London), further evidence of the high esteem with which this picture was held.


fig. 9. A copy of the priced catalogue for Constable’s 1838 studio sale, held by Messrs. Foster and Sons, London, showing the entry for The Lock.


fig. 11. J. M. W. Turner, The Burning of the House of Lords and Commons, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The John Howard McFadden Collection © Bridgeman Images


fig. 12. John Constable, The Opening of Waterloo Bridge, London Whitehall Stairs, 18th June 1817, Private Collection © Bridgeman Images


fig. 10. The entry for The Lock in the 1855 sale of the collection of Charles Birch, Esq., held by Messrs. Foster and Sons, London.

William Orme Foster, the new owner of the picture, was a member of a significant family of iron masters based near Stourbridge (fig. 13). His grandfather Henry owned iron works and substantial property in Stourbridge in 1771 and Henry’s son James expanded the business and became possibly the leading iron master in Britain. He died without issue in 1853 and left his considerable property to his nephew William, comprising £700,000, his house and the ownership of the enterprise in which they had worked together called The John Bradley & Co. Ironworks, one of the most important iron foundries of the early industrial revolution. He lived at Stourton Castle, a substantial property situated just north of Stourbridge, which dated from the seventeenth century but which had been extensively remodelled for James Foster by Robert Smirke. In 1854, shortly after his uncle’s death, Foster bought Guardship at the Great Nore (Private Collection), a major work by J.M.W. Turner from 1809. The next year he bought from Birch’s sale not only The Lock but also The First Earring, an important painting by Sir David Wilkie. In 1857 the City of Manchester hosted the great Art Treasures exhibition; the largest art exhibition ever held, which attracted over 1,300,000 visitors in the 142 days that it was open to the public. There were six works by Constable in this great exhibition including Salisbury Cathedral, Helmingham Dell, The White Horse and both Foster’s version of The Lock and the horizontal version which had been Constable’s diploma picture. The Lock was number 298 and attracted favourable comment in The Art Treasures Examiner, published in 1857 as a critical and historical record of the exhibition. In an examination of the Constable paintings in the exhibition Peregrine Sketchly wrote: 'We have two of the famous Lock scenes here; 257, the property of the Royal Academy, is certainly the most perfect in dew and moisture, wet meadow flats and the various belongings which go to make up a Constable; but 298 is rendered far more solid as a composition by the addition of the fine group of aged willow trees on the right. The artist’s reward for these two fine pictures was merely the pleasure of painting them…'.11 In June 1861 Foster added to his collection the important portrait of Mr and Mrs Garrick by Sir Joshua Reynolds (Tate Gallery, London), bought from the Earl of Orkney’s collection. In 1867 Foster bought Apley Park from Thomas Whitmore in whose family it had been since the sixteenth century (fig. 14). The price paid was an astonishing £675,000, apparently the largest cheque ever produced to date for the purchase of property. The substantial Georgian house on the banks of the river Severn had been remodelled in 1808–11 in the Neo-Gothic style by Whitmore, and Foster carried out further extensive alterations. The Lock hung there in the Smoking Room with his important collection of pictures until 1960. 


fig.13. Sir Francis Grant, P.R.A., Portrait of William Orme Foster, Private Collection

Apley Hall had at one stage been considered as a possible country residence for Queen Victoria before she settled in Sandringham. Amongst its celebrated inhabitants was Foster’s grandson, the artist and aesthete Lord Berners, who called Apley 'an earthly paradise for children' describing the house as 'a little like Strawberry Hill in appearance and if not quite so airy and fantastic in its architecture was quite as turreted and castellated.' It was also probably the inspiration for P.G. Wodehouse’s Blandings. Following the death of Arthur William Foster, William Orme Foster’s grandson, the house and property passed in 1960 to his nephew General Goulburn, and shortly afterwards Apley became a school.


Apley Park, Shropshire, watercolour

A full technical report on this picture by Sarah Cove is available upon request to the department, as are independent essays by Anne Lyles, who explores the relationship between the two versions of the picture, and their place within his famous series of ‘six-footers’ and Conal Shields, who is particularly familiar with the work of John Dunthorne and examines the picture’s historic association with the artist’s studio assistant.

1. R.B. Beckett (ed.), John Constable’s Correspondence, 6 vols, Ipswich 1962–68, vol. II, p. 415 & vol. VI, p. 211.

2. East Suffolk Record Office, WI:1324/1.

3. East Suffolk Record Office, EW:3941/.

4. John Constable’s Discourses, ed. by R. B. Beckett, Ipswich 1978, pp. 12–13.

5. From a letter from Constable to Archdeacon Fisher, in John Constable’s Correspondence, VI, The Fishers, ed. by R, B. Beckett, Ipswich 1970, p. 155.

6. Lucian Freud, quoted at the time of the exhibition ‘Constable: Le Croix de Lucian Freud’, held at the Grand Palais, Paris, 2002–03.

7. J. Chapel, 'The Turner Collector: Joseph Gillott 1799–1872', in Turner Studies, Winter 1986, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 45–46.  

8. S. Wilcox, Sun, Wind & Rain; The Art of David Cox, Yale 2008, p. 52.

9. G. Waagen, Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain, London 1857, vol. IV, p. 403. Birch also owned The Leaping Horseby Constable but sold it in 1853, the year before Waagen’s visit. As Waagen’s description can hardly have referred to The Opening of Waterloo Bridge he must have been referring to The Lock, the only other major work by the artist owned by Birch.

10. Both the compilers of the 1977 Tate Exhibition and Reynolds suggest that the painting was unsold in the 1855 sale and bought in Birch’s later sale on 28 February 1856. However, that was clearly a different picture – it was horizontal not vertical (all the sizes in that catalogue had width before height) and the size was different. Entitled simply The Barge without any further history or description it was bought by Holmes for 350 guineas. Both the annotated 1838 catalogue for the artist’s studio sale and the catalogue of Foster’s collection agree that the Foster version of The Lock was bought in 1855 for £903. Graves’ Dictionary of Sales also confirms that it was bought in 1855 for 850 guineas (£903) but gives the buyer as Holmes which possibly led to the later confusion.

11. The Art-Treasures Examiner, Manchester and London 1857, p. 71.

Two panoramic views of Florence and Naples form part of a series of vedute of great importance that were commissioned from Gaspar van Wittel - better known by his Italian sobriquet Vanvitelli - by the 9th Duke of Medinaceli, Viceroy of Naples, in around 1700. These works of ambitious scale and impressive dimensions (71 by 170 cm.; 28 by 67 in.) have never before been offered on the open market, having remained in the family of the Duke’s direct descendants until recently. 

The rediscovery of the view of Florence (est. £1-1.5 million) represents the most significant addition to the relatively few views of the city and its surroundings painted by Vanvitelli. The beautiful panoramic view of the Bay of Pozzuoli, just to the west of Naples (est. £800,000-1,200,000) is unique and exists in no other versions by the artist. The artist’s views of Italy and most notably those from his commission for the Duke of Medinaceli represent a crucial stage in the development of the veduta. 


Gaspar van Wittel, called Vanvitelli (Amersfoort 1652/3 - 1736 Rome), Florence, a view of the city from the right bank of the River Arno looking towards the Ponte alla Carraia, oil on canvas, 71 by 170 cm.; 28 by 67 in. Estimate 8,000,000 — 12,000,000 GBP (10,937,597 - 16,406,395 EUR). Photo: Sotheby's.

Provenance: Commissioned by Don Luís Francisco de la Cerda Fernández de Córdova Folch de Cardona y Aragón, ninth Duke of Medinaceli (1660–1711) in around 1700;

His nephew and heir Don Nicolás Maria Fernández de Córdoba y Figueroa de la Cerda, Marquis of Priego and Duke of Feria (1682–1739), tenth Duke of Medinaceli; listed in his palace in Priego, Cordoba, by 1711;

Thence by descent until acquired by a private collector in 2011.

Literature: Listed in the inventory of goods belonging to the heir of the ninth Duke of Medinaceli, Don Nicolás Maria Fernandez de Córdoba y Figueroa de la Cerda, Marquis of Priego and Duke of Feria, Pinturas de la Cassa del Marques mi Sr. de Priego, Ms. in the Archivio Ducal de Medinaceli, Seville, 1711, no. 323: Mas una pintura de la Ciudad de Florencia grande q. falto de poner en las treinta y siete Pinturas de Gasparo Vambitel tassada en… 2.200 rs.;

V. Lleó Cañal, ‘The art collection of the ninth Duke of Medinaceli’, in The Burlington Magazine, vol. CXXXI, no. 1031, February 1989, pp. 110 and 116.


Gaspar van Wittel, called Vanvitelli (Amersfoort 1652/3 - 1736 Rome), A view of the Bay of Pozzuoli, near Naples, taken from the east, looking towards the Port of Baia, with the Islands of Nisida, Procida and Ischiaoil on canvas, 71 by 170 cm.; 28 by 67 inEstimate 8,000,000 — 12,000,000 GBP (10,937,597 - 16,406,395 EUR). Photo: Sotheby's.

ProvenanceCommissioned by Don Luís Francisco de la Cerda Fernández de Córdova Folch de Cardona y Aragón, ninth Duke of Medinaceli (1660–1711), in around 1700;

Thence by descent until acquired by a private collector in 2011.

LiteratureInventario general de todos los trastos y vienes muebles pertenecientes a la Cassa del Exmo. Sr. Marques Duque de Medinazeli, mi señor, Ms. in the Archivio Ducal de Medinaceli, Seville, 1711, no. 180: Territorio de Pozuelo con las Islas no247… 2.200 rs.;

V. Lleó Cañal, ‘The art collection of the ninth Duke of Medinaceli’, The Burlington Magazine, vol. CXXXI, no. 1031, February 1989, pp. 109–10, 115;

L. Trezzani in Gaspare Vanvitelli e le origini del vedutismo, exhibition catalogue, Rome, Chiostro del Bramante, 16 October 2002 – 9 February 2003, and Venice, Museo Correr, 28 February – 18 May 2003, p. 45.

The Medinaceli Vanvitellis

This and the next lot form part of a series of views of great beauty and importance, that were commissioned from Gaspar van Wittel – his name italianized as Vanvitelli ­– by the ninth Duke of Medinaceli, Viceroy of Naples, in around 1700. They have never before been offered on the open market and have remained in the family of his direct descendants until recently.

Born in 1660 into one of Spain’s oldest and most wealthy families, Don Luís Francisco de la Cerda Fernández de Córdova Folch de Cardona y Aragón was heir to the Dukedom of Medinaceli.1 He came to high office at an early age; by the time he was twenty-four, Charles II had appointed him Commander General of the Galleys of Naples and only three years later, in 1687, he was made Ambassador to Rome. There he enjoyed a lavish lifestyle and conducted a scandalous affair with the celebrated cantatrice Angela Voglia, known as la Giorgina, who was much sought after by his rival, the Duke of Mantua.2 In 1691 Don Luís’ father, the eighth Duke, died. His titles and vast fortune passed to his son, who following in the tradition of a number of his forebears, including the first and third Dukes of Alcalá, was appointed Viceroy of Naples in 1696.3 

Since 1503 the Kingdom of Naples was governed by the Hapsburg monarchy under a system of viceroys. During this period Naples was transformed into a great administrative capital, so much so that by the time of Don Luís’s succession it was the most populous city in Europe after Paris. Following his arrival in the city as the new Viceroy, he developed ambitious schemes of urban construction and renewal. It was in connection with these plans that Don Luís chose to commission a series of views of the city from Vanvitelli, the leading vedutista, whom he invited to Naples to carry out the task. Vanvitelli accepted and left for Naples in 1699.    

Vanvitelli had probably arrived in Rome in 1674. A Dutchman, from Amersfoot near Utrecht, he had trained initially under Matthias Withoos, a painter of still lifes, landscapes and the occasional city view, who himself had worked in Rome between1648 and 1652. Vanvitelli’s earliest known works are a series of fifty drawings made to accompany a report prepared for Pope Clement X by the Dutch hydraulic engineer Cornelis Meyer, which investigated the possibility of extending the navigability of the Tiber upstream from Rome. By the early 1680s Vanvitelli appears to have made view painting a particular speciality. 

Initially working principally in gouache but by the end of the decade painting the majority of his works in oils, Vanvitelli brought to the genre an eye for striking compositions, often utilising a high viewpoint and rendering individual elements with meticulous detail, while using a strong, clear light to provide a sense of unity. His innovative depictions of the principal sights of Rome found a receptive audience with a number of the city’s most established families, including the Colonna family, who were his greatest patrons, the Albani family, Marchese Sacchetti, Principi Caracciolo d’Avellino and Cardinal Silvio Valenti Gonzaga. His repertoire of views increased following trips to Lombardy in 1690, and Florence, Bologna, Verona and Venice, probably in 1694–95.      

Medinaceli’s importance as a collector is revealed in the inventory drawn up soon after his death.4 Of the 389 paintings listed, a number of remarkable works have been identified. These include Rubens painting the ‘Allegory of Peace’ by Luca Giordano, The Spinners (Hilanderas) by Velázquez and The Wine of St Martin’s Day by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, all three of which are today in the Museo del Prado, Madrid.5 Judging from the inventory overall, the Duke clearly favoured Italian art, with works by seventeenth-century artists particularly well represented. The work that carried the highest value in the collection was a painting by Reni valued at 20,000 reales.6 

The collection boasted a remarkable abundance of view paintings, which account for more than a quarter of the whole inventory. The largest group by far comprises thirty-six vedute by Vanvitelli and includes this and the following lot. Thirty-five view paintings are listed together – including lot 40 – and one more view of Florence by Vanvitelli (‘Mas una pintura de la Ciudad de Florencia grande [...] de Gasparo Vambitel’) – this lot – appears under a separate heading with works that belonged to Don Luís’s nephew and successor, the 10th Duke, Don Nicolás Fernández de Córdoba, Marquis of Priego and Duke of Feria.7 Its omission from the main list reads like an oversight.8 This brings the total of Vanvitellis in Medinaceli possession to thirty-six.9 

It is more than likely that Don Luís would have known of Vanvitelli when he was serving as Ambassador to Rome in the late 1680s and into the 1690s. The group of six Roman views that Don Luís owned may well have been acquired at this time, although it is possible these were painted later. Of these, the most highly prized was the View of the Piazza Navona, still in the collection of the Dukes of Medinaceli at the Hospital de Tavera, Toledo.10 Indeed Don Luís may already have formed a close acquaintance with the artist before he left for Naples, for later, in 1700, he became godfather to the artist’s son, Luigi (d. 1773), who was to become the foremost architect in Naples in the eighteenth century. 

In his biography of the artist, Lione Pascoli, art historian and collector, writes that Vanvitelli decided to go to Naples in 1699 and stayed there for more than two years. During that time he remained in the service of the Duke, for which he received a stipend of 120 ducats per month.11 In 1702 Vanvitelli returned to Rome after his patron Don Luís had already gone back to Spain. Although Vanvitelli’s sojourn in Naples was relatively brief, thirteen paintings of the city and its environs are recorded in the Duke’s possession after his death. As Vanvitelli’s practice was to paint full-scale paintings in oil in his studio based on drawings made on site, it is conceivable that some of these views of Naples were made on the artist’s return to Rome and sent on to Spain. Nevertheless others were undoubtedly painted in Naples, as attested, for example, by A Prospect of Naples from the sea, which is dated 1702 and inscribed ‘NAP’, confirming that it was painted there (fig. 1).12   


fig. 1. Gaspar van Wittel, called Vanvitelli, A Prospect of Naples from the sea, looking north-east towards the Castel dell’Ovo. Private collection.

Following his return to Spain, Medinaceli took the side of the new Bourbon King, Philip V, in the War of Succession, and was appointed Prime Minister in 1709. Little over a year later however, he was removed from office on suspicion of liaising with the Austrian Pretender, a crime of high treason. He died in prison in 1711, probably murdered on the orders of the King, whom he had so recently supported.

A striking feature of the inventory is the value placed on different works, as well as the paucity of religious subjects overall and of Spanish paintings in particular. Of the latter only fifteen are listed. Most notable among them is The Spinners by Velázquez (already mentioned above).13 This was valued in the inventory at 3,000 reales, equal to the most highly prized Vanvitellis in the collection.

Many of the vedute are depictions of Naples and the surrounding countryside but there were also views of Venice, Florence and Rome. The quantity of works that Don Luís acquired shows him to have been by far the most important of Vanvitelli’s non-Italian patrons, and second only to the artist’s most avid Roman patrons, the Colonna family, whose printed catalogue of 1783 lists more than one hundred works by the artist, some of which are still in the collection today.14 Of the 36 entries for works by Vanvitelli in Medinaceli ownership, thirteen clearly describe views of Naples or its immediate surroundings. Of these, six have been connected with works by the artist that are either recorded in the 1996 revised edition of Briganti’s monograph or that have subsequently come to light. With the emergence of the View of the Bay of Pozzuoli and its clear identification in the inventory, it too can be added to the group (lot 40).15

Of the five views of Venice listed in the inventory, only one can be positively identified.16 Similarly, only one of the six Roman views has been linked with assurance to the inventory;17 a second view recently detected is likely to be the one of the Colosseum now in a private collection.18 Of the remaining views, the imposing View of Tivoli, now in a private collection, was one of the five most highly valued works at 3,000 reales. Three of the four views of Florence – those with lower valuations of between 1,000 and 1,200 reales – and seven views without specific locations are so far untraced, although two of these are probably to be identified with the View of Nisida and the View of Nisida and Capo Miseno, in the Medinaceli collection at Casa de Pilatos, Seville.19 

The panoramic vedute

The Duke of Medinaceli’s inventory records that A View of the Bay of Pozzuoli, lot 40, and A Prospect of Posilippo with the Palazzo Donn’Anna and Naples in the background (fig. 2), another of the magnificent views that sold in these Rooms in 2001 and today in the Peter Moores Foundation, Compton Verney, were both valued at 2,200 reales;20 while a third veduta, the one dated 1702, A Prospect of Naples from the sea, looking north-east towards the Castel dell’Ovo, now in a private collection (see fig. 1, above), was deemed to be worth considerably more, at 3,000 reales.21 The View of Florence (this lot) of the same grand format was also valued at 2,200 reales. One other breathtaking veduta, Vanvitelli’s View of the Badia Fiesolana, also part of the Medinaceli group and now in a private collection, has the same dimensions and may have been part of this ‘set’ (fig. 3).22


fig. 2. Gaspar van Wittel, called Vanvitelli, A Prospect of Posilippo with the Palazzo Donn’Anna and Naples in the background. Peter Moores Foundation, Compton Verney.


fig. 3. Gaspar van Wittel, called Vanvitelli, View of the Badia Fiesolana. Private collection.

Besides the ambitious scale and impressive dimensions of all five of the panoramic vedute that have come to light in recent years, one further feature should be noted in relation to three of them: the presence of a letter ‘E’, presumably an inventory or collection mark, in a corner of each canvas. In the case of A View of the Bay of Pozzuoli, lot 40 in the present sale, this discreet marker is evident at the lower left. The same letter ‘E’ has been noted also at the lower left of both of the other two views: A Prospect of Posilippo with the Palazzo Donn’Anna and Naples in the background (fig. 2) and A Prospect of Naples from the sea, looking north-east towards the Castel dell’Ovo (fig. 1). Not only do all three Neapolitan vedute have this distinguishing feature, each canvas is of the same dimensions. This suggests that these highly valued paintings may have formed part of a particular ensemble in the collection.23

Since the eighteenth century, the collection of the ninth Duke of Medinaceli has gradually been subdivided and dispersed, particularly following the final abolition of the laws of primogeniture in Spain in 1841. With the death of the seventeenth Duke in 1956, seven-ninths of the estate was inherited by his youngest daughter, the Duchess of Cardona, with the remaining two-ninths passing to her two older step-sisters, the Duchess of Medinaceli and the Duchess of Lerma.  

The paintings from the period of Vanvitelli’s employment by Don Luís in Naples are of great significance in being the first that the artist made of the city. They established a new visual vocabulary that was to have a profound influence on future generations of artists. In the same way that Vanvitelli’s Venetian works provided the starting point for the development of the Venetian veduta though Carlevarijs and then Canaletto, his series of views of Naples created for the ninth Duke of Medinaceli represents a crucial stage in the development of the veduta. In Naples Vanvitelli’s legacy was to continue into the nineteenth century through Vernet and Lusieri, while his Roman views and those done in and around Florence were an important point of reference for later vedutisti in those cities.

Florence, a view of the city from the right bank of the River Arno looking towards the Ponte alla Carraia

This unpublished view of Florence by Van Wittel – better known by his Italian sobriquet Vanvitelli – came to light only recently, having first belonged to Don Luís Francisco de la Cerda Fernández de Córdova Folch de Cardona y Aragón, ninth Duke of Medinaceli (1660–1711), and then to his heir Don Nicolás Maria Fernández de Córdoba y Figueroa de la Cerda, Marqués de Priego and Duke of Feria (1682–1739), who succeeded as tenth Duke. In a manuscript inventory datable to 1711, the painting is recorded at Don Nicolás’s palace in Priego, Córdoba.24 Don Nicolás inherited the painting from his uncle Don Luís, the man responsible for commissioning Vanvitelli’s celebrated series of vedute of important Italian cities and sights.

The view is taken looking south-east from the Cascine on the right bank of the River Arno to the pescaia di Santa Rosa. To the left, in the distance and somewhat hidden behind trees, are the dome and bell tower of the Duomo. At the centre of the painting is the Ponte alla Carraia, the second bridge to be built over the Arno after the Ponte Vecchio, depicted beyond. Between the two bridges is the Ponte Santa Trinità, its piers just visible through the arches of the Ponte alla Carraia. The buildings along the Lungarno Corsini are greatly foreshortened, while the principal view is of the left bank, from the Lungarno Guicciardini to the Lungarno Soderini. Here, a long stretch of river is flanked by the city’s ancient medieval walls, their crenelated edges catching the afternoon sun. The most prominent landmark across the river is the cupola of San Frediano in Cestello; visible just beyond to the left are the dome and belltower of Santo Spirito rising above the skyline. The Fortezza del Belvedere rises on the hill in the distance. On the hills to the left, are San Miniato al Monte and San Salvatore al Monte. Furthest to the right of the cityscape is the Porta di San Frediano, welcoming thorough its gateway a procession of minutely painted figures. 

The View of Florence is cited in the inventory as: ‘Mas una pintura de la Ciudad de Florencia grande q. falto de poner en las treinta y siete Pinturas de Gasparo Vambitel tassada en… 2.200 rs.’. Estimated at 2,200 reales, the same sum as the View of the Bay of Pozzuoli (the following lot), the View of Florence was among the dozen or so most valuable of the Medinaceli Vanvitellis, of which there were thirty-six in total (one was a duplicate entry). Indeed, as might be expected, there is some correlation between size and value in the inventory; of those that can be identified today, the smaller works tend to have been given lower values than the larger ones. The identical size of this Florentine panorama and the Bay of Pozzuoli may account for their equal valuation.

The similarity between the two views extends beyond merely their dimensions; they also share the same breadth, scope and informality of setting. The lack of pomposity in Vanvitelli’s vedute is especially notable in the vivid immediacy of the people who inhabit his landscapes. He records the comings and goings of people on the road, shepherds tending their flock by the river’s edge, and even fishermen at work in the shallows.  

Vanvitelli came to Florence on more than one occasion; it is certain he was in the city in 1694, staying for some months before continuing on to Bologna and Venice. The composition exists in three other versions, none of which is dated: a signed version on copper (45 by 74.5 cm.) in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence; a version on canvas (50.4 by 99 cm.) in the Colonna collection, Rome; and a third of very similar size to the latter (50 by 99 cm.) in the collection of the Cassa di Risparmio, Florence.25 As noted by Vitzthum, they must postdate 1702, the year in which the cupola of San Frediano in Cestello was erected.26 Each version differs considerably in format from the Medinaceli veduta, which is not only the largest but the most emphatically panoramic. The most obvious differences between the versions are the cloud formations and the numerous modifications to the figures, animals and carriages. The carriage with red and gold livery, driving in the direction of the Duomo, would appear to be unique to the Medinaceli veduta. A pen and ink drawing of the same view, on a squared sheet that was probably cut along the right hand margin, is in the collection of the Palazzo Reale, Caserta (fig. 4).27


fig. 4. Gaspar van Wittel, called Vanvitelli, Florence from the Cascine. Palazzo Reale, Caserta.

Although some of the vedute that were part of the ninth Duke of Medinaceli’s original commission are today distributed among public museums and private collections, a number of unidentified paintings remain in the collection. The recent rediscovery of the View of Florence represents the most significant addition to the relatively few views of Florence and its surroundings painted by Vanvitelli in Italy. 

1. V. Lleó Cañal, ‘The art collection of the ninth Duke of Medinaceli’, The Burlington Magazine, vol. CXXXI, no. 1031, February 1989, pp. 108–16.

2. W. R. de Villa-Urrutia, La embajada del Marqués de Cogolludo a Roma en 1687; y El Duque de Medinaceli y la Giorgina, Madrid 1927, p. 46.

3. Lleó Cañal gives the year as 1692; see Lleó Cañal 1989, p. 108.

4. Lleó Cañal 1989, pp. 112–16.

5. These appear in the inventory as nos 1, 18 and 39 respectively. 

6. Described in the inventory as a ‘School of Children’; see Lleó Cañal 1989, p. 110.

7. Nos 176–210 and no. 323; lot 40 corresponds with no. 180 and lot 39 with no. 323.

8. ‘…q. falto de poner en las trienta y siete Pinturas de Gasparo Vambitel…’; see Lleó Cañal 1989, p. 116.

9. The inventory actually includes thirty-seven entries for the artist but one is acknowledged as a duplicate entry.

10. No. 176 in the inventory and valued at 3,000 reales.

11. L. Pascoli, ed. G. Briganti et al., Vite de’ pittori, scultori ed architetti viventi..., Treviso 1981, pp. 10 and 17, and pp. 23–24, notes 21 and 31 respectively.

12. London, Sotheby’s, 13 December 2001, as lot 86.

13. Prado Museum, Madrid, no. 1173.

14. Capolavori da Scoprire: Colonna, Doria Pamphilj, Pallavicini, ed. G. Lepri, Milan 2005, exh. cat.  Rome, Galleria Colonna; Palazzo Doria Pamphilj and Galleria Pallavicini, 2–26 June 2005. We are grateful to Laura Laureati for this reference.

15. This leaves six remaining Neapolitan views once in Don Luís’s possession that cannot with certainty be connected with any recorded works: inventory nos 178, 185 or 186, 188, 197, 198 and 210.

16. No. 177: La Plaza de San Marcos, still in the collection of the Dukes of Medinaceli at the Hospital de Tavera, Toledo. Briganti 1996, rev. ed. Laureati and Trezzani, no. 286.

17. No. 176: La Plaza Navona, also at the Hospital de Tavera, Toledo. Briganti 1996, rev. ed. Laureati and Trezzani, no. 44.

18. See Beddington in Naples 1997–98.

19. Nos 208 and 209: Peñascos y marina and Otra de peñas y marina. Briganti 1996, rev. ed. Laureati and Trezzani, nos 395 and 396.

20. See L. Laureati in Vanvitelli, Robilant and Voena, London 2008, no. 28.

21. Oil on canvas, both 72.7 x 170.3 cm. London, Sotheby’s, 13 December 2001, as lots 85 and 86 respectively; the former for £2,000,000, the latter for £1,650,000.

22. It is probable that the View of the Badia Fiesolana corresponds with no. 199 in the inventory, ‘Pais y Rio de largo de dos varas’, valued at 2,200 reales, rather than no. 179, ‘Pays por una puente’, worth slightly less at 2,000 reales. The dimensions given of the former, ‘largo de dos varas’, albeit not precise, suggest that the Fiesole veduta is another panorama of comparable width to the other four paintings.

23. Similar in form to the letter ‘E’ is the letter ‘A’ that appears at the lower left of a view of the Colosseum that was formerly in the collection of the Duchess of Almazan, Madrid (72.5 x 125 cm.); see Briganti 1996, ed. Laureati and Trezzani, p. 155, no. 63, reproduced in colour on p. 156. The view of the Colosseum is the presumed pendant of a painting now in the Cincinnati Museum of Art depicting the ‘Plaza del Palacio de Napoles’; 71.9 x 124.6 cm.; see C. Beddington, in Capolavori in Festa: Effimero barocco a largo di Palazzo (1683–1759), Naples, Palazzo Reale, 20 December 1997 – 15 March 1998, p. 143. 

24. Although not listed together with the 35 other vedute by Vanvitelli in the Inventario general de todos los trastos y vienes muebles pertenecientes a la Cassa del Exmo. Sr. Marques Duque de Medinazeli, mi señor (Ms., Archivio Ducal de Medinaceli, Seville), there is an entry for the painting in a section titled Pinturas de la Cassa del Marques mi Sr. de Priego, under no. 323, which states that the painting failed to be included with the other Vanvitellis. This indicates therefore that the View of Florence was also part of the group commissioned by the 9th Duke. Gabriele Finaldi and Pilar Silva Maroto in their report on another Medinaceli painting, The Wine of Saint Martin’s Day by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, published on the Museo del Prado website (September 2010), argue under note 14 that the inventory was drawn up some time after the 9th Duke’s death (and not immediately after his death, as stated by Lleó Cañal), when Don Nicólas acquired ownership of his predecessor’s possessions; and that the title ‘Sr. Marques Duque de Medinazeli’ refers in fact to Don Nicólas, Marquis of Priego. That the bulk of the collection was inherited by Don Nicolás from the estate of Don Luís is confirmed by a note near the end of the first part of the inventory, which specifies that ‘todas estas Pinturas son las que se trajeron de la testamentaria del Duque mi Sr. Dn. Luís de la Zerda’; see Lleó Cañal 1989, pp. 109 and 115–16.

25. See L. Laureati in G. Briganti, Gaspar van Wittel, rev. ed. L. Laureati and L. Trezzani, Milan 1996, pp. 231–32, nos 270, 271 and 272, the first and last reproduced.

26. W. Vitzthum in Gaspar Van Wittel (1652/53–1736). Disegni dalle Collezioni Napoletane, exhibition catalogue, Gaeta, Palazzo De Vio, August–September 1980, p. 136. See also Laureati in Briganti 1996, rev. ed. Laureati and Trezzani, p. 231.

27. 286 x 442 mm. As inv. 141, according to Vitzthum (see Vitzthum 1980, no. 59, reproduced on p. 137); as inv. 1600, according to Trezzani (see Briganti 1996, rev. ed. Laureati and Trezzani, p. 321, no. D91).

A View of the Bay of Pozzuoli, near Naples, taken from the east, looking towards the port of Baia, with the Islands of Nisida, Procida and Ischia

This beautiful panoramic view of the Bay of Pozzuoli, just to the west of Naples, is unique and exists in no other versions by the artist. The picture formed part of one of Vanvitelli’s most important commissions, a series of thirty-six Italian views, predominantly of Naples and its surroundings, for one of his leading patrons, Don Luís Francisco de la Cerda Fernández de Córdova Folch de Cardona y Aragón, ninth Duke of Medinaceli (1660–1711) and Viceroy of Naples.

Don Luís amassed an extraordinary collection of paintings during his lifetime and the inventory taken after his death in 1711 lists 389 paintings, including fifteen said to be by Guido Reni (1575–1642), eleven by Carlo Maratta (1625–1713), and six by Luca Giordano (1634–1705).24 By far the most numerous however are those by Vanvitelli, who painted no less than thirty-six works for the Duke. This painting, A View of the Bay of Pozzuoli, is listed in the inventory under no. 180 and valued at 2,200 reales: ‘Territorio de Pozuelo con las Islas no 247… 2.200 rs.

The view is taken from the eastern shores of the Bay of Pozzuoli, close to Via Coroglio which runs parallel to the sea, and looks out over the bay towards the port of Baia (visible in the distance to the right of the tall tree in the foreground) and Cape Miseno in the centre of the picture. In greatest proximity to the shore lies the island of Nisida (on the immediate left of the bay), with the island of Procida situated beyond the Cape, and the much larger island of Ischia visible in the far distance. The shifting appearance of land and sea as it recedes towards a notional horizon is rendered with great subtlety by Vanvitelli, who no doubt chose this particular viewpoint for its scenic qualities. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the Bay of Pozzuoli grew in popularity as a destination for Grand Tourists wishing to enjoy its panoramic views.

Two factors suggest a dating of around 1700 for this painting: Vanvitelli's presence in Naples in the service of the Duke and a signed and dated drawing now in the Museo di San Martino, Naples (fig. 1).25 The drawing, executed in pen and ink, with grey and blue watercolour, is inscribed: Strada di Puzzolo / G: V.W. 1701, and depicts a vista from the road between Naples and Pozzuoli that is very similar to that seen in the painting. Recognisable across the water are Miseno, the town of Bacoli and the islands of Procida and Ischia beyond, but in the drawing their alignment has shifted somewhat as the artist has adopted a different viewpoint near to the shore along the bay. Vanvitelli is sketching what he sees from the coast road in the vicinity of Bagnoli. The view is captured from close to the water’s edge and with a foreground of jagged rocks but the silhouette of the islands on the horizon is the same as in his painted panorama. Looking at the shoreline at the right of the painting, one might well imagine the artist sitting close to the roadside, a rocky promontory before him, sketching the view before him. Although it cannot yet be established whether or not the drawing preceded the painting or vice versa, nevertheless it serves as a vivid testimony to the artist’s presence in Pozzuoli in 1701 and is all the more important as the only drawing that can be connected to the composition.

In the painting Vanvitelli adopts a particularly original approach. In contrast to the formality of his urban views, the artist has embraced the feeling of the outdoors and taken a far more naturalistic approach to the scene, including an array of incidental detail from everyday life. In the foreground is a modest stone dwelling; through the open door stands a young woman in a light-filled courtyard going about her day-to-day tasks; on the roof, a line of washing hangs out to dry, blowing gently in the wind and catching the light of the warm sunshine. To the right of the building stands a tall but ragged tree that has become overgrown with ivy or a vine. On the left two monks converse with two women, one of whom holds a baby; set back from them, in the shade of a nearby tree, an elderly man watches on; and beyond them a group of other women – some dancing, some playing music – amble along the road. The scene has an arresting sense of informality and calm. The artist’s highly naturalistic approach, which conveys a palpable sense of open space, seems more akin in spirit to the work of plein-airpainters of the early nineteenth century than from the age of the founder of the view painting tradition.

Although no other painted versions by Vanvitelli of this particular view are known, in the Fundación Casa Ducal de Medinaceli are two views of Nisida seen from opposing sides, the View of Nisida and its pendant View of Nisida and Capo Miseno, the former taken from the eastern shore and the latter from a point further to the south of the present view, close to the head of the eastern side of the Bay of Pozzuoli.26 These too were done for Medinaceli and remain in the collection. Demand for views of the bay of Pozzuoli appears to have grown substantially during the eighteenth century as attested by the existence of views by several later vedutisti, including Antonio Joli (c. 1700–77); Tommaso Ruiz, in Naples in the mid-eighteenth century; Gabriele Ricciardelli (active between 1740 and 1780); and Jacob Philipp Hackert (1737–1807), who painted a number of views of the area that Vanvitelli had depicted a century before.27


Gaspar van Wittel, called Vanvitelli, The Bay of Pozzuoli. Museo di San Martino, Naples/

24. For the inventory see Lleó Cañal 1989, pp. 112–16.  

25. Museo di San Martino, Naples, inv. 23905; 370 x 495 mm. W. Vitzthum in Gaspar Van Wittel (1652/53–1736). Disegni dalle Collezioni Napoletane, exhibition catalogue, Gaeta, Palazzo De Vio, August–September 1980, pp. 150–51, no. 66, reproduced pl. 66. See also L. Trezzani in G. Briganti, Gaspar van Wittel, rev. ed. L. Laureati and L. Trezzani, Milan 1996, pp. 377–79, no. D264, reproduced p. 378.

26. Both oil on canvas, 71 x 123 cm.; see N. Spinosa (ed.), All’ombra del Vesuvio, exhibition catalogue, Naples, Castel Sant’Elmo, 12 May – 29 July 1990, pp. 257–58, reproduced, and p. 438.

27. See Naples 1990, pp. 248 ff.

This beautifully preserved picture is the most significant early Netherlandish painting to come to the auction market in the 21st century. It is just one of only two depictions of the Madonna and Child painted by Jan Gossaert, called Mabuse, in the 1520s and 1530s remaining in private hands. It hung in the National Gallery in London on loan from 1993 to 2012 and was included in the landmark exhibition there in 2011. Together with the exhibition devoted to the Flemish Master at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2010, the National Gallery show allowed a wider public to appreciate to the full genius of this great Renaissance artist. Gossaert was the first Netherlandish painter fully to embrace Italian Renaissance modes of depiction and his strikingly original paintings and drawings are instantly recognisable, as reflected in this picture (est. £4-6 million).  


Jan Gossaert, called Mabuse (Maugeuge (?) circa1478 - 1532 Antwerpt(?)), The Virgin and Child, oil on oak panel, 38.9 by 26.6 cm.; 15 3/8  by 10 1/2  in. Estimate 4,000,000 — 6,000,000 GBP (5,468,798 - 8,203,198 EUR). Photo Sotheby's.

Provenance: Private collection, Bruges;

Richard von Kaufmann (circa 1850–1908), Berlin, by whom acquired in 1902;

By inheritance to his widow;

The Richard von Kaufmann sale, Berlin, Paul Cassirer, 4ff December 1917, lot 92, as painted circa 1520, in its original frame;

Eduard Simon (1864–1929), Berlin;

His sale, Berlin, Cassirer & Helbing, 10–11 October 1929, lot 24;

Dr. Wolfgang Huck, Berlin, by 1930, and probably acquired at the Simon sale;

Thence by descent to the present owner.

Exhibited: Berlin, Akademie der Künste, Ausstellung von Werken alter Kunst: Aus dem Privatbesitz von Mitgliedern des Kaiser Friedrich-Museums-Vereins, 1914, no. 49;

Rotterdam, Museum Boymans, Jeroen Bosch. Van Geertgen tot Scorel. Noord-nederlandsche primitieven, 10 July – 15 October 1936, no. 107;

London, National Gallery, on loan from 1993 to December 2012 (inv. L650);

London, National Gallery, Jan Gossaert’s Renaissance, 23 February – 30 May 2011, no. 13.

Literature: M.J. Friedländer, 'De Verzameling von Kaufmann te Berlijn,’ in Onze kunst, vol. 5, no. 2, 1906, p. 34;

E. Weisz, Jan Gossart gen. Mabuse, sein Leven und seine Werke…, Parchim in M. 1913, p. 118, reproduced plate XII, no. 33 (originally presented as Doctoral Diss., 1912);

M.J. Friedländer, Die altniederländische Malerei, vol. VIII, Berlin & Leiden 1930, p. 156, no. 30, reproduced plate XXVIII;

G. von der Osten, in M. Meiss (ed.), 'Studien zu Jan Gossaert,’ in De artibus opuscula XL, Essays in Honor of Erwin Panofsky, New York 1961, vol. I, pp. 454, 469;

S. Herzog, Jan Gossart called Mabuse (ca. 1478–1532): A Study of His Chronology with a Catalogue of His Works, Doctoral Diss., Bryn Mawr 1968, pp. 286–87, no. 38, as datable circa 1525–30;

M.J. Friedländer, Early Netherlandish Painting, vol. VIII, Leiden 1972, p. 94, no. 30, reproduced plate 32;

National Gallery Report, London 1994, pp. 20–21;

M. Wolff, in M. Wolff (ed.), Northern European and Spanish Paintings before 1600 in the Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Collection, New Haven & London 2008, p. 231;

L. Campbell, in M.W. Ainsworth (ed.), Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasure. Jan Gossart’s Renaissance, New Haven & London 2010, pp. 164–66, no. 13, reproduced p. 165, as datable circa 1520.

Notes: The exhibition devoted to Jan Gossaert at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the National Gallery in London in 2010–11, where between the two venues a substantial proportion of his surviving works was displayed together, made a remarkable impression on the visitor, allowing a wider public to appreciate to the full the extraordinary genius of this great Renaissance artist. More specifically, it reminded us that Gossaert was the first Netherlandish painter fully to embrace Italian Renaissance modes of depiction.1 This point, eloquently made in the exhibition and perhaps even more so in the accompanying catalogue raisonné, had been noticed before, in the artist’s own century, by Lodovico Guicciardini and Giorgio Vasari in the 1560s, and shortly after by Karel van Mander.2 The rich tones of blue that he used lavishly in many of his paintings and in all of his Madonnas put us in mind of Renaissance painters in Florence and Venice, and of course of Albrecht Dürer, who himself admired Gossaert’s work at first hand in Middelburg, following his own transformative Venetian experience. It was not left to posterity to recognise Gossaert’s achievements: he was highly praised in his own day, when in 1516 and again in 1529, Philip of Burgundy’s court poet and humanist Gerard Geldenhouwer acknowledged him as nostrae aetatis Apellem – 'the Apelles of our Age'.3 As well as scripting a wholly new pictorial mode for the Netherlands, Gossaert was a strikingly original artist, whose paintings and drawings are instantly recognisable.

The present beautifully preserved Madonna and Child, which hung in the National Gallery in London on loan since 1993, was included in the landmark Jan Gossaert exhibition there, where it was displayed in the company of other depictions of the Madonna and Child from the 1520s and '30s, one of only two such remaining in private hands.4 Max Friedländer, the first scholar to write about the picture, and Lorne Campbell, the most recent, date it circa 1520.5 Sadja Herzog dated it to the second half of the 1520s, but the consensus among latter-day scholars is for the earlier dating.6 Campbell compares it with the Carondelet Diptych, of which the right hand panel depicts the Madonna and Child, which is dated 1517 (fig. 3).7 The facial type of the Virgin in both works is noticeably similar, while the figure of the Christ Child is different.  


fig. 3. Jan Gossart, The Carondelet Diptych, 1517 Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Gossaert was in Italy only once, probably for little more than a few months in 1509, but his visit there as part of the entourage of Philip of Burgundy on his delegation to Pope Julius II in Rome enabled him to study and draw the monuments of Antiquity, perhaps the first Northern artist to do so, as well as to familiarise himself with the achievements of the contemporary artists of the High Renaissance. Given the brevity of his stay in Rome, his activity must have been febrile.8 He was fortunate that his humanist patron Philip of Burgundy was intensely interested in what they both saw. As Philip’s biographer Gerard Geldenhouwer wrote in 1529, 'Nothing pleased him more when he was in Rome than those sacred monuments of antiquity which he commissioned from the distinguished artist Jan Gossart of Maubeuge to depict for him'.9 A number of drawings done by Gossaert in Rome survive.  His Roman experience was seminal in forming his own classicizing style, and was to change the course of art in the Netherlands. It was not however his only exposure to High Renaissance art. From 1506 onwards, Michelangelo’s Bruges Madonna was in the Onze-Lieve Vrouwekerk in Bruges, and Gossaert must have seen it there (see fig. 1). As Lorne Campbell noted, the present Virgin and the Christ-Child, though not the overall composition, bear some resemblance to their counterparts in Michelangelo’s sculpture, especially in the countenance of the Madonna and thecontrapposto of the Christ Child, which Gossaert has further exaggerated.10 Elsewhere, Gossaert’s experience of Italian Renaissance sculpture was likely to have been as important an influence on him as painting, both compositionally, and in the remarkable extent to which he used faux-carved settings for his paintings, both architectural and sculptural.11


fig. 1. Michelangelo, The Bruges Madonna, Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk, Bruges, Belgium © World Religions Photo Library. Bridgeman Images. 

Gossaert painted the Virgin and Child sufficiently often that this must have been a subject that had a particular resonance for the artist, as well as a particular appeal for his patrons. They are typically small-scale works on panels generally less than 50 by 35 cms., some with arched tops, and the figures generally fill the picture plane in a way that was unusual among Netherlandish artists.12 Although the dating of individual works is still a matter of debate, there is a measurable development over the course of the last decade or so of Gossaert’s life, which is the span of their creation. In earlier works such as this one, and the work also of circa 1520 in the Mauritshuis, The Hague, and the one of circa 1522 in the Landesmuseum, Münster, the figures are set before a plain background, with traces of marbling like the present work.13 In the Mauritshuis picture the Christ Child appears somewhat lively, as in the present picture, and the Virgin is also resting Him on a carpeted table-top set at an angle. In later treatments of the subject, such as the work in the Prado, Madrid, of circa 1527, and one in a private collection of circa 1530, Gossaert sets the Virgin and Child before elaborate architectural settings, using both classical and high gothic styles, while in a work of the second half of the 1520s in Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, Gossaert places them before atrompe l’œil frame.14 In the last of the sequence, a work dated 1531 in Cleveland, Gossaert placed the Virgin and Child before a landscape.15

There is no doubt that in these works Gossaert was consciously reinterpreting the Italian Renaissance tradition of depicting the Madonna and Child. It is however the earlier pictures in the sequence of works, such as the present example, that are the most Italianate. The later ones evolve towards a highly distinctive but more Northern pictorial mode: the Cleveland work – the last of them all – was clearly influenced by Albrecht Dürer in the pose of the Virgin and by contemporary artists in The Netherlands such as Joachim Patinir and his followers in the choice of a landscape background and its manner of depiction. 

Although closely associated with Philip of Burgundy, who helped him procure commissions, Gossaert was not continuously employed as a Court Painter in the official sense, and worked as an independent artist. Although based in Middelburg, he travelled often to execute commissions, and seems not to have operated with an established workshop. On a modern map, Middelburg appears relatively isolated, on the tip of the most remote of the islands of Zeeland, linked to the rest of the Netherlands only by modern causeways and bridges carrying roads and railways. When in the 16th and 17th centuries sea routes were swifter and more reliable than overland travel across waterlogged and boggy country divided by rivers and undrained swamps, its isolation was less of a reality, and it was easily reached from Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges, where Gerard David, with whose works Gossaert seems to have been familiar, lived, and where Gossaert himself may have been active in the second decade of the 16th century. From 1517 onwards, Gossaert seems to have spent some time, probably intermittently, at Philip of Burgundy’s residence at Wijk bij Duurstede, near Utrecht, where Philip had been elected bishop. He also seems to have spent time at Mechelen (Malines), and was summoned there in 1523 by Margaret of Austria. Thus, even assuming a dating for the present work of circa 1520, it is not possible to suggest with any degree of confidence where it was painted. Following Philip of Burgundy’s death in 1524, Gossaert went to work for Philip’s great-nephew Adolf of Burgundy, Admiral of Zeeland at Veere in Zeeland, not far from Middelburg, but the present work is likely to be earlier than that.     

As Lorne Campbell noted, this picture may well have formed the left wing of a diptych.16 The Christ Child is looking out of the picture plane to the viewer’s right, perhaps regarding a donor on the right wing. No such wing has been identified with certainty, by Von der Osten, followed by Martha Wolff, suggested that it may have been the Portrait of a Monk in the Louvre, Paris (fig. 2).17 The Louvre panel is dated 1526, a little later than the current scholarly consensus for the present work, was painted in an engaged frame, and is slightly smaller than the present picture. Moreover, there is a noticeable lack of compositional synergy between the two works. 


fig. 2. Jan Gossart, Portrait of a Monk, 1526, Musée du Louvre, Paris, Gift of Jean-Baptiste Foucart, Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Gérard Blot.

The panel, ground and paint layers
The support is a Baltic oak panel formed of two boards: one comprising most of the panel, and a narrower one barely 1.5 cm. wide at the left.18 This unusual structure suggests that the panel was probably originally larger, but if it was cut down, this was done before the painting was begun, since the painted surface ends before the present edges. Although a frame described as original is mentioned in the Von Kaufmann sale catalogue, the current frame is not original. There is no evidence to suggest that the painting was executed in an engaged frame. In common with several other of Gossaert’s Madonnas, the present panel has very little under-drawing. Over the chalk ground layer the priming of the panel is pinkish in tone, and comprises lead white with a little red lead. Red lead is also found in the tablecloth, mixed with red lake, vermilion and lead white. Fluorite is found in the upper layer of the background, mixed with the same pigments and black. The blue used in the Virgin’s robe is ultramarine of high quality and expense.  

Note on Provenance
This painting is first recorded in an unidentified private collection in Bruges, before it was acquired at the very beginning of the 20th century by Richard von Kaufmann. The turn of the 20th century coincided with a rapid increase in interest in and the collecting of the work of the Flemish Primitives, among whose number Gossaert would have been included, despite his strong and ground-breaking links with Italian Renaissance art and his reflections of Classical antiquity. This revival of interest in late medieval and Renaissance art in the lands largely contained within the borders of the recently founded Kingdom of Belgium was marked by several influential exhibitions, including the landmark Les Primitifs Flamands in Bruges in 1902. 

Thereafter the painting was in three succeeding distinguished Berlin collections. Richard von Kaufmann had started collecting before he moved from Aachen to Berlin in 1883, but thereafter he focussed on Italian Primitives and Renaissance painting, Flemish Primitives, and Early German paintings. He collected very few paintings made after the early 16th century, and to judge from the two-volume sale catalogue, he was extremely selective, since the paintings included in it are of an extraordinarily high level of quality. The painting then entered the collection of the second Berlin collector, Eduard Simon, an art collector and philanthropist who headed the family textile firm Gebrüder Simon, and was cousin of James Simon, another well-known collector. Eduard Simon concentrated on two areas of collecting:  Renaissance painting and sculpture from both sides of the Alps, and French, Italian and English 18th-century painting. Like Von Kaufmann, Simon bought many works on the advice of Wilhelm von Bode, including the Porto detached frescoes by Tiepolo sold in these Rooms on 3 July 2013, lot 42. The present work by Gossaert would have been displayed in the villa that Simon had built in 1902 in Viktoriastrasse alongside Italian Renaissance masterpieces including a Botticelli Madonna and Child, and portraits by Bronzino and Bugiardini, and sculptures by Lorenzo Ghiberti and Andrea Riccio. Grateful for Von Bode’s advice, Simon donated many works to the Berlin museums, and the remainder of his collection was dispersed at auction following his sudden death in 1929. At the sale in 1929, or very soon after, the Gossaert was acquired by the Berlin (and later Munich) newspaper proprietor and publisher Wolfgang Huck (1889–1967), who had started collecting earlier in the decade. Like his father, Huck was intensely interested in theatre and music as well as art, and both notably backed Max Reinhardt. As a collector he was particularly interested in Early Netherlandish painting, owning for example the Joos van Cleve Virgin and Child with a Pear now in the Städel, Frankfurt, as well as the present work, which remains in the possession of a descendant. 

1. See under Exhibited, New York 2010–11. Maryan Ainsworth, who organised the exhibition, chose to spell the artist’s nameGossart, following contemporary sources, as Weisz and Sadja Herzog had done. When the exhibition travelled to London the organisers chose to retain the spelling Gossaert more widely used in the present day, and retained here. He has often been referred to as Mabuse, after the city of Maubeuge then in the medieval county of Hainaut, and today in France; this may be due to the Latinized form of signature incorporating his birthplace that he used from 1516 onwards: Johannes Malbodius.

2. L. Guicciardini, Descrittione di M. Lodovico Guicciardini…, Antwerp 1567, p. 98; G. Vasari, Le vite de’ piu eccelenti pittori, scultori e architettori…, Florence 1568, ed. P. Barocchi, Florence 1978–85, vol. 7, p. 584; K. van Mander, Het Schilder-Boeck…, Haarlem 1604, ed H. Miedema, Doornspijk 1994–99, vol. I, 1994, pp. 160–61, fol. 225v., lines 3–7.

3. See M.W. Ainsworth, in M.W. Ainsworth (ed.), Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasure. Jan Gossart’s Renaissance, New Haven & London 2010, p. 3.

4. The other, a recent rediscovery, is somewhat abraded following the removal of substantial overpaint; idem, p. 182, no. 19, reproduced.

5. See under Literature.

6. See under literature.

7. Paris, Louvre, inv. 1442 & 1443; see M.W. Ainsworth, op. cit., pp. 245–249, no. 40, reproduced.

8. The delegation visited Trent, Verona, Mantua and Florence. In Verona, Gossaert sketched music-making angels in Mantegna’s San Zeno Altarpiece.

9. See Ainsworth, op. cit., p. 11.

10. See Campbell under Literature, p. 166. The Bruges Madonna is reproduced p. 172, fig. 168.

11. While not suggesting it was a specific source for the artist, Maryan Ainsworth drew a comparison between Gossaert’sVirgin and Child in Münster and a marble relief by Benedetto da Maiano in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; see Ainsworth, op. cit., pp. 158–59, no. 11, reproduced and fig. 161.

12. Only the Prado work is larger than this.

13. Oil on panel, arched top, 25.3 by 19.6 cm. Royal Picture Gallery, Mauritshuis, The Hague (on loan from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), inv. 850; see Ainsworth, under Literature, pp. 154–57, no. 10, reproduced.
Oil on panel, arched top, 38.5 by 30 cm.; Landesmuseum, Münster, inv. 1959 WKV; idem, pp. 158–59, no. 11, reproduced.

14. Oil on panel, 63 by 50 cm. Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, inv. 1930; idem, pp. 170–73, no. 16, reproduced. Oil on panel, 44.5 by 34 cm.; Private collection; idem, pp. 182–83, no. 19, reproduced. Oil on panel, 47.6 by 37.7 cm.; idem, pp. 168–70, no. 15, reproduced.

15. Oil on panel, 48.9 by 38.4 cm.; Cleveland, Ohio, The Cleveland Museum of Art, inv. CMA 1972.47; idem, pp. 184–86, no. 20, reproduced.

16. See Campbell under Literature, p. 166. 

17. See under Literature. The Portrait of a Monk, oil on panel, 38.6 by 26.4 cm. (overall size), Paris, Louvre, inv. RF 23; see Ainsworth under Literature, pp. 270–72, no. 50, reproduced.

18. The information in the paragraph is taken from the technical investigation conducted prior to the New York exhibition; see Campbell, op. cit., p. 164

The sale is also highlighted by a series of exceptional portraits. Among them is one of the greatest images of Henry VIII ever to emerge onto the market. Painted circa 1542, this imposing portrait is the last official image of the King’s reign. Formerly in the collection of the Earls of Warwick, it is also the last royal image issued from the studio of the celebrated court painter Hans Holbein the Younger. Some three hundred years after it was painted, its likeness had not lost its power to impress. The great German art historian Gustav Waagen, who saw it in 1835, remarked: “There is in these features a brutal egotism, an obstinacy, and a harshness of feeling, such as I have never yet seen in any human countenance. In the eyes, too, there is the suspicious watchfulness of a wild beast, so that I became quite uncomfortable from looking at it a long time; for the picture, a masterpiece of Holbein, is as true in the smallest details as if the king himself stood before you.”

By the time this portrait was painted, the King would have been in his early fifties, recovering not only from a serious jousting accident but the breakdown of his fifth marriage to Catherine Howard, whom he had executed in the winter of 1542. 

Despite Holbein’s privileged position in the service of the Crown, portraits of Henry VIII by Holbein or his studio are extremely rare and only a small handful can be shown to have been painted while the artist was still alive - the present portrait among them (est. £800,000-1,200,000). 



Workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger (Augsburg 1497/8 - 1543 London), Portrait of King Henry VIII (1491–1547), oil on oak panel, 91 by 64 cm.; 35 3/4  by 25 1/4  in. Estimate 800,000 — 1,200,000 GBP (1,093,760 - 1,640,640 EUR). Photo Sotheby's.

Provenance: Possibly acquired in 1801 by George Greville, 2nd Earl of Warwick (1746–1816), and first recorded in the collection at Warwick Castle in 1815;

Thence by descent to David Greville, 8th Earl of Warwick (1934–96);

From whom acquired in situ; 

Thence to the present owner.

Exhibited: Manchester, City Art Gallery, Art Treasures, 1857, no. 471 (as by Holbein);

London, South Kensington Museum, National Portrait Exhibition, 1866, no. 99;

London, New Gallery, 1890, no. 126.

Literature: Anon., 'Pictures and Articles of Curiosity', in Inventory of the Contents of Warwick Castle, (Warwickshire Record Office CR1886/466), Ms., circa 1800, n.p. (listed hanging in the passage in the private apartments of the Castle);

Recorded in the notebook of the picture restorer Robert Brown, under the date 20 June 1801, at the end of a list of payments received from the Earl of Warwick – 'Remains to buying the Portrait of King Henry by Holbein – £1', V&A National Art Library, MSL/1993/3/1, p. 10;

W. Field, An Historical and Descriptive Account of the Town & Castle of Warwick and of the neighbouring Spa of Leamington, Warwick 1815, p. 220 (listed hanging in the passage in the private apartments of the Castle);

S. Woodburne, Notes on the Paintings at Warwick Castle, (Warwickshire Record Office CR1886/783/12), Ms., 1832, no. 15 (listed hanging in the Library – ‘A very fine Picture I think by H Holbein and fine of him’);

G. F. Waagen, Works of Art and Artists in England, 3 vols, London 1838, vol. III, p. 206 (where he refers to the picture formerly at Castle Howard as 'an  old copy of the picture at Warwick Castle');

C. W. Spicer, Vitruvius Britannicus. History of Warwick Castle, London 1844, p. 35 (listed hanging in Lady Warwick’s Boudoir);

H. T. Cooke, An Historical and Descriptive Guide to Warwick Castle…, Warwick 1847, pp. 60–61 (listed hanging over the mantel-piece in Lady Warwick’s Boudoir);

Cooper’s, History of Warwick and Guide to the Castle, illustrated, 1850, pp. 90–91, (listed hanging in the Countess of Warwick’s Boudoir);

W. Kendall, Inventory of Warwick Castle, (Warwickshire Record Office CR1886/783/16), Ms., 1853, (listed hanging in the End Room);

G. F. Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, 3 vols, London 1854, vol. III, p. 215 (seen in situ at the Castle on his visit in 1835, as ‘Holbein – King Henry VIII. To the knees, the size of life; full front… a masterpiece of Holbein);

Anon, Inventory of Warwick Castle, (Warwickshire Record Office CR1886/703), Ms., circa 1870, (listed hanging in the Boudoir);

A. Woltmann, Holbein und seine Zeit des Kunstlers Familie, Leben und Schaffen, 2 vols, 2nd revised ed., Leipzig 1874–76, vol. II, p. 21;

Anon., ‘Henry VIII’, in The Magazine of Art, XVIII, 1895, pp. 212–13, reproduced;

F. E. Warwick, ‘Warwick Castle’, in The Pall Mall Magazine, vol. XI, January–April 1898, p. 37 (listed hanging in the Boudoir);

Anon., Inventory of the contents of Warwick Castle, (Warwickshire Record Office CR1886/703), Ms., 1900 (listed hanging in the State Boudoir);

The Countess of Warwick, Warwick Castle & its Earls from Saxon times to the present day, 1903, p. 808;

A. B. Chamberlain, Hans Holbein the Younger, 2 vols, London 1913, vol. II, pp. 101–02; 

‘Warwick Castle, Warwickshire. The seat of the Earl of Warwick – II’, in Country Life, June 1914, p. 844, illustrated hanging in the Little Boudoir;

Illustrated London News, 14 October 1933, reproduced;

P. Ganz, 'Henry VIII and His Court Painter, Hans Holbein', in The Burlington Magazine, vol. LXIII, no. 368, November 1933, p. 134;

H. A. Schmid, ‘Ein zweites, besseres ‘neuentdecktes’ Bildnis Heinrichs VIII’, in National-Zeitung, DX, 2 November 1933;

P. Ganz, 'The Castle Howard Portrait of Henry VIII', in The Burlington Magazine, vol. LXIV, no. 371, February 1934, pp. 85–86, reproduced pls I & II;

H. A. Schmid, ‘Kann man die Urheberschaft Holbeins den Jüngeren nur auf Grund von Photographien Ablehnen?’, in Jahrbuch der Preuszischen Kunstsammlungen, LV, 1934, pp. 126–38, reproduced p. 130, p. 135 (detail) and p. 137 (detail);

H. Kuhn, ‘Heinrich VIII – Howard or Warwick, that is the Question’, in Das Werk, LXIV, 1934, pp. 221–24;  

P. Ganz, The Paintings of Hans Holbein, London 1956, p. 254;

R. Strong, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 2 vols, London 1969, vol. I, p. 159;

E. Michael, Hans Holbein the Younger. A Guide to Research, New York and Abingdon 1977, pp. 78–79;

R. Salvini and H. W. Grohn, L'Opera Completa di Holbein, Milan 1971, p. 109;

D. Schaff, ‘The Manchester Portrait of Henry VIII by Hans Holbein the Younger’, in Art International, XXIII, 1979/80, pp. 44–57;

J. Rowlands, Holbein. The paintings of Hans Holbein the Younger, Oxford 1985, p. 236, no. R.37(b), reproduced pl. 245.

Notes: This magnificent portrait of Henry VIII last appeared on public exhibition over a century ago, and its re-emergence here reveals it as perhaps the first and surely the finest known version of this, the last great image of the king  produced by his celebrated court painter Hans Holbein the Younger. The fact that it has remained in the famous collection of portraits at Warwick castle for over two centuries has meant its extraordinary quality has remained largely unaffected by later intervention, and its remarkable state of preservation thus allows us to see the exceptional quality and detail of jewellery and costume intact. Some three hundred years after it was painted, its likeness had not lost its power to impress. The great German art historian Gustav Waagen, who saw it in 1835, remarked:

‘There is in these features a brutal egotism, an obstinacy, and a harshness of feeling, such as I have never yet seen in any human countenance. In the eyes, too, there is the suspicious watchfulness of a wild beast, so that I became quite uncomfortable from looking at it a long time; for the picture, a masterpiece of Holbein, is as true in the smallest details as if the king himself stood before you.’

By the time this portrait was painted in the early 1540s Holbein had been in the service of the English crown for fifteen years and a Court painter for six. For all the vicissitudes of the reign of Henry VIII his position as the King’s painter was never undermined or challenged, and indeed he himself had adopted English citizenship in June of the previous year. Though he left no real pupils, his influence upon portraiture at the English Court was profound, for it was during Holbein’s time in England that the concept of the royal portrait as a potent image and symbol of the monarch was first truly developed. In Roy Strong’s words ‘the reign of Henry VIII witnesses the birth of modern royal portraiture and sets the pace for the next 300 years’, and for this he was largely responsible.1 Painted circa 1542, this likeness of the king was to be the last royal image to issue from Holbein’s studio, for the following autumn he himself had died from the plague in London.

This imposing portrait was also to prove the last official likeness of the King’s reign, for Henry himself was to die only a few years later in 1547. At this date the King would have been in his early fifties, and he is shown at a time when he was increasingly beset by poor health, recovering not only from a serious jousting accident but the breakdown of his fifth marriage to Catherine Howard (c. 1523–42), whom he had executed in the winter of 1542. Despite this the King’s presence remains formidable and he is unflinching in his gaze. He is shown at half-length in a full-frontal pose, clad in a dark green velvet surcoat worked with silver thread, over a doublet made from cloth of gold, that the artist has cleverly adopted as a means of disguising the King’s greatly increased weight, which had been brought on by his illness. In his left hand he holds a staff, which at this date he could not walk without, whilst in his right he tightly clenches a pair of leather gloves. There is no evidence that the King sat specifically to Holbein for this portrait type, but, as was usual with the working methods of Holbein’s studio, his likeness was undoubtedly evolved from an earlier drawing taken from life, which no longer survives. 

Despite his privileged position in the service of the Crown, portraits by Holbein himself of Henry VIII are extremely rare, and even those issuing from his studio in his lifetime are uncommon. He is first recorded as the King’s painter in 1536, some four years after he had come to England for the second time, and he is recorded as salaried in the Royal Accounts from 1538 onwards. Even if Henry VIII gave him relatively few commissions, they were all highly important. The first and by far the most important surviving portrait of the King is that painted in 1536 when he was already forty-five (fig. 1).


fig. 1. Hans Holbein the Younger, King Henry VIII, Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Madrid, Spain © Bridgeman Images

Today in the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, this remains Holbein’s undisputed masterpiece from his years in England, and is the only certain painting entirely by Holbein’s hand of Henry VIII. It is also probably the only surviving portrait of Henry made from life, although the original ad vivum drawing which Holbein would undoubtedly have made of the King no longer survives.2 The likeness, with the King ‘s face seen in quarter profile to the right, was re-used by Holbein in the cartoon for his famous mural of the King with his third wife Jane Seymour and his parents, Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York, for the Privy Chamber of King’s Palace in Whitehall, the left-hand side of which survives (National Portrait Gallery, London). The finished mural itself was destroyed by fire when the palace burned down in 1698, however its appearance is known from a seventeenth-century copy made by Remigius van Leemput for Charles II circa 1667 (Royal Collection), which shows the King’s full-face and clearly indicates a change of plan during the execution and a new sitting by the King. Again, Holbein’s original ad vivum drawing is lost, but a copy closely resembling it inscribed with the name Hans Swarttung, who may have been one of the artist’s assistants, is in the collection of the Staatliche Graphische Samlung, in Munich (fig. 2). The Whitehall likeness of the King remains the most potent image of the sovereign, and was copied and repeated in a number of replicas at both half and full-length. This is the last time Henry VIII sat to Holbein, and the face-mask was re-used in almost all later portraits of the king, including the unfinished group portrait of Henry VIII with the Barber Surgeons, painted between 1541 and 1543 (Barber-Surgeons’ Hall in London; fig. 4), and the full length portrait of the King said to have been painted for the family of Jane Seymour (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool), which was produced in Holbein’s workshop and is thought to date to circa 1540–45. The Warwick picture, while it uses the Whitehall face pattern, in the format of the body and the costume departs considerably from those in either the Whitehall or Barber Surgeons’ prototypes.


fig. 2. Workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger, Henry VIII © Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München, Inv. 12875 Z


fig. 4Hans Holbein the Younger, Henry VIII handing over a charter to Thomas Vicary, commemorating the joining of the Barbers and Surgeons Guilds, 1541, Barber-Surgeons' Hall, London, UK © Courtesy of the Worshipful Company of Barbers (Bridgeman Images)

Versions and dating

The Warwick portrait of Henry has long been recognised as one of the finest versions of this image of the king.  The eminent German art historian Dr Gustav Waagen, who saw this picture on his visit to Warwick Castle in 1835, thought it the work of Holbein himself.  Much later Paul Ganz later claimed to have discovered Holbein’s prototype in the panel formerly at Castle Howard, and sold in these Rooms, 8 July 2015, lot 7, and published it as such in his catalogue of Holbein’s work in 1956. This view was not, however, shared by subsequent scholars, among them Ganz’s fellow Basel scholar Henrich Schmid defended the Warwick painting, believing it to be of superior quality and more likely to be Holbein’s prototype. More recent scholars, among them both Strong and Rowlands, have argued that none of the versions can be considered the work of Holbein himself, and indeed doubted whether they were sufficiently homogenous to be regarded as the products of a workshop pattern. It certainly seems likely that whoever painted the Warwick panel may have had access to tracings or drawings from Holbein’s studio, for the figure of the king has a convincing corporeal presence, and the representation of the folds of the costume and the hands accurately modelled. Details of the silver and gold thread on the costume, the fur, staff and the jewellery are all of a remarkably high standard throughout, all beautifully rendered within a harmonious palette of golds, greens and greys. 

In addition to the Warwick and ex-Castle Howard portraits, there are a small number of other versions of this last portrait of the king, but few if anys seem to reach this level of quality. These include those at Rothesay in the collection of the Marquess of Bute, and that formerly at Kimbolton from the collection of the Dukes of Manchester. Further examples of the composition, some of which date to after the King’s death, are to be found at Knole, Melbury House, The National Portrait Gallery, the University of Cambridge, the Bethlem Royal Hospital in London, the Moores Foundation at Compton Verney, and at Seaton Delaval, which is dated 1545. A slightly larger pattern, dated 1544 but on canvas and not panel and probably of later date, is at St Bartholomew's Hospital, and a reduced head-and-shoulders copy is at Chatsworth.3 In all, just over a dozen extant versions survive, but while most may have been painted during or very shortly after the King’s lifetime, in the present state of research only two or three can be shown to have been painted while Holbein was still alive – the Warwick portrait among them. 

Recent dendrochronological analysis on a number of these panels, undertaken by Ian Tyers, shows that only three of these panels can claim the possibility of having been painted prior to Holbein’s death in 1543. These are the Warwick painting; the ex-Castle Howard panel, which shows heartwood rings up to 1533, which would fit the date of 1542 inscribed on the panel itself; and thirdly that from the collection of the Dukes of Manchester, formerly at Kimbolton Castle, which has a likely usage date of around 1535 onwards. The present version may well be the earliest of these, for the panel support upon which it is executed consists of four narrow oak boards cut from three trees sourced from the eastern Baltic, one of which was still growing in 1479. While this would suggest a very likely early usage for the panel, the absence of sapwood on any of the boards precludes a more accurate dating. The panels at Seaton Delaval and in the National Portrait Gallery, by contrast, date respectively from 1545 and 1547 onwards and so are likely to have been painted during the King’s lifetime or very close to it, but after Holbein’s death. 

The fact that the portraits are of similar size, and that dated examples and recent existing dendrochronological evidence seems to point to a limited period of production, suggest that the final portrait type of the King was indeed produced from a pattern in Holbein’s workshop. The relatively small number of extant versions might similarly suggest that the type was limited, and ceased to be produced not long after the King’s death. However, the nature of Holbein’s workshop is not known, for no documentary source makes any mention of his apprentices or pupils, and the problem of whether Holbein himself organised the repetition of some of his English portraits is unresolved. That said, recent technical analysis suggests that contemporary versions of the Whitehall portrait type now in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and Petworth House were painted by artists who had either worked alongside him at Whitehall or who had access to his studio, its cartoons and designs.4 Holbein’s working technique of using tracings meant that copied drawings or traced patterns could be made of the original portraits of important clients such as the King. Holbein certainly seems to have used studio assistants at this date to help him execute the very large panel of Henry VIII with the Barber-Surgeons and it is probable that they were entrusted with its completion after his death in 1543. 

Note on Provenance

Although the early provenance of this picture is at present unknown, by the early years of the nineteenth century the painting had entered the collection of George Greville, 2nd Earl of Warwick (1746–1816), an avid collector who made it his life’s work to adorn the family seat, Warwick Castle. The castle had first been acquired by the Greville family in 1604 from James I, and at the time the 2nd Earl inherited in 1773 the few paintings in the collection consisted of a set of views of the castle and grounds by Canaletto, which had been commissioned by his father and hung in the family’s London house, a group of family portraits and a collection of Italian paintings attributed to Bassano, del Sarto, Leonardo, Manfredi, Marratta, Mola, and Palma, as well as a single Rembrandt.5 Educated at Eton and Edinburgh and Oxford Universities, Warwick made the Grand Tour in 1776/7 and on his return to England became a Member of Parliament, Fellow of the Royal Society, and Fellow of the Society of Antiquarians. He was in his mid-20s when his father died and it was not until his second marriage to Henrietta Vernon in 1776 that he really turned his energies to the castle and its collection – it may also have helped that, in his own words, ‘a most valuable coal mine was discovered by Mr. Vancover on my Warwick Estates’ thereby giving him the means to make improvements on a grand scale.6 Engaging the services of his uncle, the great antiquarian and British Envoy to Naples, Sir William Hamilton, as well as a number of other agents, the 2nd Earl began to amass one of the greatest collections ever to have been assembled in England. When it came to paintings portraiture was his particular passion, as he wrote to his uncle in August 1779: 'I’m going on by degrees to furnish all the Rooms… It is an expensive work and must be done with care… Fine Portraits are what I particularly desire to have and some very fine ones I now have but not enough, should you see any well-painted agreeable, head or half lengths in old dresses, I should be much obliged to you to purchase them for me.' 

When an inventory of the castle was taken in 1806, by which time the Earl was on the verge of bankruptcy, he owned thirty-one portraits by or attributed to Van Dyck, and twelve by Rubens. As late as 1815 William Carey was still trying to persuade him to buy another Rubens. Indeed the walls were crowded with Italian and Flemish paintings interspersed with both family and historical portraits. The richly carved tables with their marble tops groaned with classical marbles, bronzes, silver gilt, rock crystal, Limoges enamels, lava vases of Etruscan shape, and other works of art. The 2nd Earl had succeeded in transforming the rather modest collection of his ancestors into one that vied with Beckford’s at Fonthill Abbey. Sufficient was its fame that it warranted a visit by Britain’s most knowledgeable (and profligate) collector; readers of the Morning Chronicle, as they sat at their breakfast on 9 September 1806, would read that 'His Royal Highness (The Prince Regent) went through all the apartments (at the castle) and viewed, en virtuoso, the valuable collection of pictures which had been, from time to time, placed in the noble residence, the whole arrangement of which is perfect in character with the sublime antiquity of the structure'. The Royal Visit heralded many others and by 1815, the local historian, William Field, published An Historical and Descriptive Account of Warwick…, which provided the many visitors with descriptions of what they would see. Further guide books followed (see Literature) extolling what Daisy, Countess of Warwick, described in 1903 as the work of 'the great virtuoso of the house'. 

The portrait of King Henry is first securely mentioned at the castle in an anonymous inventory of the contents taken about 1800, when it was listed hanging in the private apartments of the castle. Samuel Woodburn, who published his Notes on the Paintings at Warwick Castle following his visit in 1832 referred to the Portrait of Henry VIII as ‘a very fine Picture I think by H Holbein and fine of him’. It was later moved to Lady Warwick's Boudoir, where it was admired by figures as diverse as the great German scholar Gustav Waagen and the Egyptian general Ibrahim Pasha (1789–1848), who was particularly impressed by it when he visited the castle during his European tour in 1846. 


Workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger, Portrait of King Henry VIII, half-length, wearing a richly embroidered red velvet surcoat, holding a staff © Sotheby's

No receipt for the picture's purchase has yet been found in the Warwick archives, however an entry in the notebook of the picture restorer Robert Brown, held in the archives of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s National Art Library, at the end of a list of payments received from the Earl of Warwick, dated 20 June 1801, reads: 'Remains to buying the Portrait of King Henry by Holbein – £1'. Robert Brown (c. 1763–1834) was active as a picture restorer and picture dealer from 1797 to 1834, as well as a landscape painter who exhibited at the Royal Academy. The Earl of Warwick was by far his most significant client, and is listed thirteen times in the first account book (1797–1804). Brown also spent over three months at Warwick Castle in 1799, cleaning and repairing pictures, for which he charged £65.12s.6d at a rate of £5.5s a week.7 Whilst one pound would have been a very small sum to pay for this portrait, even in 1801, the wording of the entry suggests that it might have been part of a down payment on credit, rather than the whole cost of the purchase, and is the only known reference to the possible acquisition of the picture.  

A white-glazed lobed jar, Song Dynasty

Interior of the Blue Boudoir at Warwick Castle, 1913, with the present lot in situ above the fireplace

1. Strong 1968, p. 157.

2. Panel, 28 x 20 cm. I. Lübbecke, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection: Early German Paintings 1350–1550, London 1991, pp. 250–55, reproduced.

3. For the most detailed list see Strong 1968, p. 159 and Rowlands 1985, p. 236.

4. See X. Brooke and D. Crombie, Henry VIII revealed. Holbein’s Portrait and its Legacy, exh. cat. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 2003.

5. The antiquarian Thomas Pennant visited Warwick in 1776 and left a list of the pictures amongst his papers (Warwickshire Record Office CR 2017/TP10). 

6. A Narrative of the peculiar case of the late Earl of Warwick from his Lordship’s own manuscript, London 1816.

7. Brown’s other important clients included the Earl Harcourt, for whom he cleaned pictures in his studio, and also spent fifteen days at Nuneham House, Oxfordshire, in 1807, treating Lord Harcourt’s pictures for a guinea a day; Lord Frederick Campbell, for whom Brown undertook considerable work in 1797 and 1798; the Duke of Grafton; and the Earl of Chesterfield (Ref. British picture restorers, 1600–1950, 2nd edition, August 2014).

’s portraits of Queen Henrietta Maria are extremely rare. The artist only produced four independent prototypes of the queen, of which this work is the last. The first version of this picture was painted in 1636-37 for Cardinal Francesco Barberini. It was probably intended as a gift for the ‘Cardinal Protector of England’ from the Queen herself (a devout Catholic who was regarded in Rome since her marriage to Charles I as the guardian angel of English Catholics). Barberini also supervised the commission to Bernini for marble busts of both the King and Queen, for which Van Dyck painted portraits as a guide. 

Acquired by the 2nd Earl of Warwick (1746–1816), who amassed possibly the greatest collection of portraits ever seen in England, it is believed to have been extended by Sir Joshua Reynolds to its present dimensions in the late 18th century. 

Estimated at £1.5-2.5 million, this magnificent painting inspired several later studio copies which feature today in the prestigious collections at Eastnor Castle, at Wilton House and the National Portrait Gallery, London. 



Sir Anthony Van Dyck (Antwerpt 1599 - 1641 London), Portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria (1609–1669), later inscribed, centre left: Henrietta Maria, oil on canvas, extended, 127 by 81.3 cm.; 50 by 32 in. (extended in the 18th century by another hand, possibly Sir Joshua Reynolds, to create a full-length portrait of 223.6 by 130.8 cm.; 88 by 51 1/2  in.). Estimate 1,500,000 — 2,500,000 GBP (2,050,799 - 3,417,999 EUR). Photo Sotheby's.

Provenance: First recorded in the collection of George Greville, 2nd Earl of Warwick (1746–1816) in 1798;

Thence by descent to David Greville, 8th Earl of Warwick (1934–1996);

From whom acquired in situ; 

Thence to the present owner.

Literature: D. H. (att. to Richard Gought), 'Pictures in Warwick Castle', in Gentleman's Magazine, vol. 68, October 1798, p. 836;

Anon., 'Pictures and Articles of Curiosity', in Inventory of the Contents of Warwick Castle, (Warwickshire Record Office CR1886/466), Ms., circa 1800, n.p. (listed hanging in the Gilt Room);

W. Field, An Historical and Descriptive Account of the Town and Castle of Warwick, Warwick 1815, p. 216 (listed as a 'Henrietta Maria – wife of Charles I – whole length – by Vandyck', hanging in the Little Study);

J. Smith, A Catalogue Raisonne of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters, 9 vols, London 1831, p. 218, no. 462;

S. Woodburne, Notes on the Paintings at Warwick Castle, (Warwickshire Record Office CR1886/783/12), Ms., 1832, no. 38 (listed hanging in the 1st Drawing Room – ‘very fine quality of Van Dyck’);

G. F. Waagen, Works of Art and Artists in England, 3 vols., London 1838, vol. III, p. 155;

C. W. Spicer, The Vitruvius Britannicus, Part VHistory of Warwick Castle, London 1844, p. 36 (listed hanging in the Gilt Room);

H. T. Cooke, Warwick Castle and its Founders, 1846, vol. II, p. 5 (listed hanging in the Gilt Drawing Room);

H. T. Cooke, An Historical and Descriptive Guide to Warwick Castle…, Warwick 1847, p. 56 (listed as hanging in the Gilt Drawing Room);

Cooper’s, History of Warwick and Guide to the Castle, illustrated, 1850, p. 86 (listed hanging in the Gilt Room);

W. Kendall, Inventory of Warwick Castle, (Warwickshire Record Office CR1886/783/16), Ms., 1853 (listed hanging in the Gilt Drawing Room);

G. F. Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, 3 vols., London 1854, vol. III, p. 213;

Anon, Inventory of Warwick Castle, (Warwickshire Record Office CR1886/703), Ms., circa 1870 (listed hanging in the Gilt Drawing Room);

F. E. Warwick, ‘Warwick Castle’, in The Pall Mall Magazine, vol. XI, January–April 1897, p. 37 (listed as 'the bust by Van Dyck, the rest completed by Sir Joshua Reynolds', hanging in the Cedar Drawing Room);

Anon., Inventory of the contents of Warwick Castle, (Warwickshire Record Office CR1886/703), Ms., 1900 (listed hanging in the Cedar Drawing Room);

L. Cust, Anthony Van Dyck. An historical study of his life and works, London 1900, p. 266;

The Countess of Warwick, Warwick Castle & its Earls from Saxon times to the present day, 1903, p. 808;

‘Warwick Castle, Warwickshire. The seat of the Earl of Warwick – II’, in Country Life, June 1914, p. 845 (illustrated hanging in the Cedar Drawing Room);  

G. Gluck, Van Dyck. des Meisters Gemälde, Klassiker der Kunst, Stuttgart 1931, p. 560;

O. Millar, 'Notes on three pictures by Van Dyck', in The Burlington Magazine, vol. CXI, July 1969, p. 417 (as a very good version of the Barberini portrait);

E. Fahy in E. Fahy and F. Watson, The Wrightsman Collection. Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture, vol. V, New York 1973, p. 306 (as one of the two best versions made in England before the Barberini portrait was sent to Rome); E. Fahy ed., The Wrightsman Pictures, New York 2005, p. 124 (listed under versions/copies);

J. Farington, The Diary of Joseph Farington, ed. K. Garlick, A. Macintyre & K. Cave, 16 vols., New Haven and London 1978–84, vol. V, p. 1588 (seen at Warwick Castle, 15 August 1801);

S. J. Barnes, N. De. Poorter, O. Millar & H. Vey, Van Dyck. A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, London 2004, p. 528, no. IV.124 (as by Van Dyck)

Notes: This particularly fine painting, probably Van Dyck’s most brilliant late portrait of the Queen, is an autograph version of a picture the artist painted in 1636–37 for Cardinal Francesco Barberini (The Wrightsman Collection, New York). Acquired by the 2nd Earl of Warwick (1746–1816), who amassed possibly the greatest collection of portraits ever seen in England, it is believed to have been extended by Sir Joshua Reynolds to its present dimensions in the late eighteenth century to fit with the series of such portraits that decorated the principal state rooms of Warwick Castle.

Recorded in the Cardinal’s collection in Rome in 1639, the prime version of this portrait was probably intended as a gift for the ‘Cardinal Protector of England’ from the Queen herself (a devout Catholic who was regarded in Rome since her marriage to Charles I as the guardian angel of English Catholics) as a gesture of thanks for a large group of Italian pictures he had sent her earlier that year. Barberini also supervised the commission to Bernini for marble busts of both the King and Queen (though the latter was never executed), for which Van Dyck painted portraits as a guide in 1635 and circa 1639 respectively (see figs 1 & 2).


fig.1. Sir Anthony van Dyck, Queen Henrietta Maria, Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2015. Bridgeman Images


fig.2. Sir Anthony van Dyck, Charles I in three positions, Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2015. Bridgeman Images

As was customary with Royal portraiture, before Barberini’s picture was shipped to Rome Van Dyck painted another version: the Warwick portrait. It is this picture, which is particularly finely painted in such passages as the handling of the lace and jewels, as well as modelling of the arms and hands (which are painted with an exceptionally fresh touch) upon which later studio copies, such as those at Eastnor Castle; in the collection of the Earl of Pembroke, at Wilton House; and in the National Portrait Gallery, London, are based. In addition to the quality of the handling, a number of noticeable differences between the two prime versions, particularly in the folds of the sleeves and the position of the crown, indicate that they are both the work of the master reinterpreting his own work, rather than the work of studio assistants. Securing royal subjects for sittings was notoriously difficult, and it had been common practice since Holbein’s era for artists to produce multiple versions of the same portrait from a sitting when dealing with crowned heads of state. Van Dyck only produced four independent prototypes of Henrietta Maria, excluding portraits of her with the King, of which the Barberini/Warwick type is the last official state portrait.1 Of the second prototype, painted in 1632 for the King’s Bedchamber at Whitehall, no fewer than four autograph versions exist, including those in the Royal Collection, the Loyd Collection, on loan to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, the Northumberland Collection, at Alnwick Castle, and the Cowdray Collection.

Henrietta Maria, daughter of Henri IV of France and Navarre, and Maria de’ Medici, was born at the Palais du Louvre in November 1609. Brought up mainly at Saint Germain, her early years were marred by political instability within France; her father was assassinated only six months after her birth. When Henrietta Maria was married at age fifteen to Prince Charles, later King Charles I, in 1625, it was unprecedented for a Catholic princess to be sent in marriage to a protestant court. Their marriage was, however, close and intimate; they had seven children and the King often heeded the opinion of his wife. Henrietta Maria was known to have been an amusing, active, pious, tenacious, and politically engaged Queen with an independent and highly developed taste in the arts. The 1630s, when this painting was executed, was a time of great happiness for Henrietta Maria as she enjoyed a life of peace that revolved around her husband and children, her palaces and her faith. 

Even as Charles I became increasingly unpopular, and the defiantly protestant government gained power, Henrietta Maria retained a resilient hopefulness and confidence in her husband’s support beyond London. When the situation in London became increasingly unsafe the King and Queen fled. Charles I was not to return to London until the eve of his execution, and Henrietta Maria would not return until after the Restoration. The Queen did not hide quietly; from exile in Holland and France she campaigned on behalf of her husband and religion; she attempted to rally support, funds, and armies; she sold her jewels and possessions and sent her money to England to aid the King's cause until she had nothing left and could not afford to even heat her apartments. Henrietta Maria did not hear of her husband’s execution in 1649 for over a week. The news is said to have changed her forever and she wore a simple black dress for the rest of her life. She spent her remaining years in France and in England, travelling back and forth across the channel, devoted to promoting her son’s claim to the throne, to bringing up her youngest child, and to her own religious practice. 

Depicted here in contemporary fashionable dress, the Queen is shown gracefully posed in an elegantly simple saffron-yellow gown, with a broad lace collar and cuffs, her soft dark brown eyes gazing tenderly towards the viewer with an expression that is remarkable for its lack of hauteur given her royal status. Her relatively modest jewels consist of a simple, large faceted diamond at the centre of her corsage, attached by a bow to a long string of pearls, together with another string of pearls at her throat and large pearl earrings. The only indication of her royal authority is hinted by the little imperial crown on the table beside her, whilst the position of her hands, folded with the palms up, one on top of the other just below the waist, suggests that she is expecting the impending arrival, on 17 March 1637, of her sixth child, Princess Anne. It is a masterpiece of restrained regal elegance, and a beautifully calm, tender portrait of one of the most dynamic women of her generation.  

First recorded at Warwick Castle in 1798, this picture was most likely acquired by George Greville, 2nd Earl of Warwick (1746–1816), one of the greatest collectors of the eighteenth century. The son of the 1st Earl and his wife Elizabeth Hamilton, sister of the great cognoscente Sir William Hamilton, British Envoy in Naples, the 2nd Earl inherited the family seat in his mid-20s. Educated at Eton, and having attended both Edinburgh and Oxford Universities, in 1776–77 he finished his training with a Grand Tour of the continent, visiting Naples and Venice, and on his return to England was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and Member of Parliament for Warwick. The 2nd Earl made it his life’s work to adorn the family seat following the extensive renovations to the castle’s interiors that had been carried out by his father, which he himself had added to further. Using his uncle in Naples, as well as a network of other agents across Europe, he filled the house with classical marbles, bronzes, silver gilt, rock crystal, Limoges enamels, Etruscan vases, richly carved furniture and exquisite pietra dura tables. His most distinguished area of collecting, however, was in seventeenth-century paintings, declaring to his uncle in 1779 ‘fine portraits are what I particularly desire’, and by 1806, when an inventory of the collection was taken, he had acquired no less than thirty-one paintings by or attributed to Van Dyck, and twelve by Rubens. In addition to Flemish paintings he collected pictures by the Italian masters and also patronised contemporary English painters, such as George Romney and Sir Joshua Reynolds; such that, by the time of his death, he had transformed what had been a fairly modest inheritance into a collection that vied in magnificence and splendour with Beckford’s at Fonthill Abbey. In 1785 John Byng described the rooms in the castle as 'sash'd with taste, and abound with a valuable collection of Vandyck portraits',2and sufficient was its fame by 1806 that the Prince Regent, that most profligate of British collectors, paid a visit to the castle and 'went through all the apartments and viewed, en virtuoso, the valuable collection of pictures'.3 

Originally a half-length portrait, like the Barberini picture, soon after the painting was acquired by the 2nd Earl it was extended to its present format so that it could be incorporated into the series of full-length portraits that decorated the principal state rooms of the castle, first in the Gilt Room and later in the Cedar Drawing Room (see fig. 3). This extension is traditionally associated with Reynolds, who we know from documentary evidence relating to other collections carried out similar adaptations and restoration on paintings for major patrons.4 Given the longstanding relationship between Sir Joshua and the family, and the Earl’s position as one of his most important patrons (Reynolds had first painted Warwick as a boy, aged 8, and had been heavily patronised by his father), as well as the evident quality of the handling in the extensions, it seems highly plausible that it could be by his hand, and certainly could well have been done in his studio. It is interesting to note that of the three other full-length portraits of Henrietta Maria by Van Dyck at least one, that painted for Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange, and now in the Schlossmuseum, Oranienburg, has also been extended, both at the top and bottom of the canvas. As, too, has a portrait of the Queen in the Northumberland collection, one of the four previously mentioned Whitehall Bedchamber paintings, which was extended on both sides in the early nineteenth century to fit a frame designed by Giovanni Montirolo as part of the redecoration of the interior of Alnwick Castle carried out for the 4th Duke.

A white-glazed lobed jar, Song Dynasty

fig.3. Interior of the Cedar Drawing Room at Warwick Castle, 1913, with the present lot shown in situ in the centre of the room

1. An additional three informal head studies of the Queen were produced by Van Dyck for Bernini circa 1639–42, for which the artist struggled for a number of years to secure a sitting, one of which is illustrated as fig. 1.

2. C. B. Andrews (ed.), The Torrington Diaries, vol. I, London 1934, p. 230.

3. The Morning Chronicle, 9 September 1806.

4. See E. W. Harcourt (ed.) The Harcourt Papers, 13 vols, 1880–1905, vol. III, Oxford 1880, p. 230, for an account of Reynolds working on a copy of Rubens’ The Carters.

This Portrait of a man, said to be Raphael Raggio was almost certainly produced during Van Dyck’s stay in Genoa, where the painter gained a vast amount of commissions from wealthy patrons in 1625-27. Although the identification of the sitter is uncertain, it has been suggested that the figure is the model for the artist’s imaginary portrait of Prefect Raffaele Raggi in the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. (est. £400,000-600,000). 


Sir Anthony Van Dyck (Antwerpt 1599 - 1641 London), Portrait of a man, said to be Raphael Raggio, half-lenght in armour, oil on canvas, 99 by 73.5 cm.; 39 by 29 in. Estimate 1,500,000 — 2,500,000 GBP (2,050,799 - 3,417,999 EUR). Photo Sotheby's.

Provenance: George Venables-Vernon, 5th Lord Vernon (1803–66), Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire;

By descent to John Lawrance Venables-Vernon, 9th Lord Vernon (1889–1963);

By whom sold through Colnaghi and Knoedler in 1917 to;

William Butterworth, Illinois;

His wife, Katherine Deere Butterworth (d. 1954), Moline, Illinois;

Her nephew Colonel Charles Deere Wiman, Moline, Illinois;

His widow (1970);

Given by their daughter, Patricia Wiman Hewitt, to Brandywine Conservancy, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania;

By whom sold, New York, Sotheby's, 19 May 1994, lot 19.

Exhibited: Detroit, The Detroit Institute of Arts, Eighth loan exhibition of old masters: paintings by Anthony Van Dyck, 3 April – 20 April 1929, no. 22.

Literature: J. Smith, A catalogue raisonné of the works of the most eminent Dutch, Flemish and French painters, vol. III, London 1831, pp. 186–87, no. 639 (as portrait of a Genoese officer, and 'Worth 200 Gns');

J. Smith, A Supplement to the catalogue raisonné of the works of the most eminent Dutch, Flemish and French painters, London 1842, p. 393,  no. 88;

J. Guiffrey, Antoine van Dyck: sa vie et son œuvre, Paris 1882, p. 307, no. 974;

W. R. Valentiner, 'Die Van Dyck Ausstellung in Detroit', in Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, LXIII, 5/6, August 15, 1929, pp. 108–09, reproduced;

G. Glück, Klassiker der Kunst, Van Dyck, Des Meisters Gemälde, New York 1931, pp. 209, 541, reproduced p. 209 (as a Genoese Officer);

S. J. Barnes, Van Dyck in Italy, Ph.D diss., New York University 1986, p. 264, no. 45 (as a member of the Raggi family);

E. Larsen, The paintings of Anthony Van Dyck, Freren 1988, vol. II, p. 433, no. A70 (as of Raffaele Raggi, a copy);

S. J. Barnes, N. de Poorter, O. Millar, H. Vey, Van Dyck: A complete catalogue of the paintings, New Haven & London 2004, p. 220, no. II.89, reproduced.

Notes: This portrait was almost certainly produced during Van Dyck’s stay in Genoa, where the artist is thought to have made several visits during the years 1625 to 1627. Bellori, the painter’s first biographer, pronounced in 1672 that 'travelling in other parts of Italy, he always came back to Genoa as if it were his own country, where he was known and loved by everyone.'1The painter’s characterful and dramatic approach to portraiture saw him gain a vast amount of commissions from wealthy Genoese patrons. Their particular desire for lavish and elegant costume portraits was realised by the talented Fleming, whose experience gained here served as a useful platform for his successful later career as portrait painter to the courts of northern Europe.

Despite the decline of armour as practical dress on the battlefield during the age of the gun, the imagery implied by it might have taken an added significance due to the recent conflicts endured by the Genoese nobility. In March 1625 Genoa was besieged by Spanish forces to remove the Franco-Savoyard occupiers who had installed themselves within the city only months previously. The eventual relief of Genoa a month later marked a new era of independence and prosperity during the backdrop of the destructive Thirty Years War. Portraits such as these could be considered to display the continued visual appeal of the traditional armoured warrior, ready and able to defend when threatened and attack when provoked.2 The solemn pose of the sitter, with his hands ready to remove his sword from the scabbard, implies readiness for action.

Although the identification of the sitter of this painting is uncertain, it has been suggested that the figure is the model for the imaginary portrait of Prefect Raffaele Raggi (active between 1479–1524) in the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. (fig. 1).3 The Genoese Raggi were one of the leading families during the foundation of the republic in 1528, a century before the painter’s visit to the city. Tommaso Raggi (1597–1679), who raised an army at his own expense in 1625, was also painted in armour by Van Dyck in the style of Titian’s lost portrait of Charles V.4 Barnes also proposed that the sitter might have been an unknown member of the Raggi family, whose identity has since been lost.5 However, it is also possible that Van Dyck may have made use of prints or images of the sixteenth century Prefect, which have since been lost. 


fig.1. Sir Anthony Van Dyck, Portrait of the Prefect Raphael Raggi © National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The use of full plate armour is a common feature of many of Van Dyck’s male Genoese sitters. This particular harness worn by the sitter, which displays rather rounded pauldrons and breastplate, is highly reminiscent of Italian armours produced in Milan or Brescia during the first decades of the century.6 Compared with the highly personalised and decorated armours encountered in several of his Genoese portraits, such as is worn by Filippo Spinola in a contemporary portrait at Cincinnati Art Museum, the blackened steel of this armour affords the wearer a much more sober appearance. It is quite plausible that patrons would have requested to have been painted in their own harnesses, especially due to the expense of these highly valued objects. The armour reappears only once in Van Dyck’s Italian works, in a portrait of an unknown sitter preserved in the University of Rochester, New York. Curiously, a near identical armour appears in a contemporary painting of David arming himself by Jan Roos (1591–1638), last recorded in a private collection in Genoa.7 Roos and Van Dyck were known to have collaborated on several occasions, as both Flemings were working in the city during the same period. The harness in this painting forms part of a group of breastplates, shields and weapons displayed as part of an elaborate still life centred on the themes of warfare. It is not known whether the armour featured in this still life might have belonged to the Genoese Raggi, or were purely decorative props.

The visual source of many of Van Dyck’s armoured portraits can often be found in sixteenth-century Italian portraiture, and especially those of the Venetian painter Titian. Titian’s Il Bravo, preserved in the Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna, has often been cited as the source for several of Van Dyck’s half-length armoured portraits from this period, including the Washington picture.8 It is likely that the backwards looking tilt of the unknown sitter’s head might have been inspired by the Italian master’s work. The inclusion of Titian’s painting in Van Dyck’s Italian sketchbook, preserved in the British Museum, makes a strong case for this.9 However, the particular pose of this portrait, showing the sitter in side profile with a firm grasp on the pommel and scabbard, also shows a remarkable likeness to that of a North Italian armoured portrait in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (fig. 2). Scholarship has also suggested that it might be a copy of a lost work by Titian.10 An earlier portrait of a man in armour, attributed to Francesco Granacci (fig. 3), also depicts an armoured warrior in a similar pose with hands ready on his sword. Although it is tempting to think that Van Dyck might have encountered one of these images during his travels, neither are to be found in the British Museum sketchbook. Whether his borrowings from sixteenth-century paintings were employed to suggest continuity with the past, and be hung harmoniously alongside earlier family portraits, remains unclear.


fig. 2. Attributed to North Italian school, Portrait of a nobleman in armour © Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.


fig. 3. Attributed to Francesco Granacci, Portrait of a man in armour, National Gallery, London © 2015 The National Gallery, London. Scala, Florence.


Lorenzo de Ferrari, Portrait of a man in armour  © Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt. Photo: Wolfgang Fuhrmanneck

One painted copy of this painting is known, the composition with the figure at knee-length in an interior which appeared in the M. Biondi Sale, Milan, 2 December 1929, lot 62.  

Another version of the painting is recorded in a drawing by Lorenzo de Ferrari.11 This alternative version places the figure within an architectural setting, and features the Order of Calatrava on the sitter’s breastplate. Curiously, a black and white photograph preserved in the Witt Library shows the current portrait bearing the same cross on figure’s armour. This device was presumably removed at some point between Knoedler’s sale of the picture in 1917 and the reproduction of the portrait by Glück in 1931. It is difficult, but not impossible, to suggest that the current portrait might once have been the picture seen and drawn by Ferrari. Ferrari also produced a drawing of the Cincinatti portrait of Fillipo Spinola, which was part of the Genoese Balbi collection during the artist’s lifetime. It is plausible that this alternative version could have also once formed part of this family collection, and might be identified as one of two unidentified sitters wearing armour as recorded by Ratti in 1780.12

Presumably on the basis of an old photograph, Eric Larsen published this picture, which he did not reproduce and whose whereabouts were unknown to him, as a copy of the Washington portrait of Raffaele Raggi.13 Neither the sitter's physiognomy, nor his pose, nor the overall composition are the same, and it is clear that neither work is a copy of the other. Larsen's view was rightly ignored by Barnes et al., and in the context of the rest of his book, his rejection of it speaks strongly in favour of Van Dyck's authorship.  

Fig. 1. Sir Anthony Van Dyck, Portrait of the Prefect Raphael Raggi, oil on canvas, 131 x 105.5 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Fig. 2. Attributed to North Italian School, Portrait of a nobleman in armour, oil on canvas, 92.5 x 70 cm. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Fig. 3. Attributed to Francesco Granacci, Portrait of a man in armour, oil on panel, 70.5 x 51.5 cm., NG895. National Gallery, London.

1. G. P. Bellori, Le vite de’ pittori, scultori ed architetti moderni, Rome 1672, p. 225.

2. For a discussion on armour as a complex tool for self-fashioning see C. Springer, Armour and Masculinity in the Italian Renaissance, Toronto 2010.

3. See Barnes under Literature, p. 197, no. II.55, reproduced.

4. Idem, p. 198, no. II.56, reproduced.

5. Idem, p. 220.

6. A decorated armour of this style, dated to the 1620s, is preserved in the Museo Civico Marzoli, Brescia, inv. no. 856, reproduced in L. G. Boccia et al., Armi e Armature Lombarde, Milan 1980, p. 175, no. 213.

7. See A. Orlando, 'Gli anni Genovesi di Pieter Boel', in Paragone, XLIX, no. 581, July 1998, reproduced as no. 35.

8. Op. cit., p. 197.

9. British Museum, London, inv. 1957, 1214.207.65.

10. A. Boschetto, Giovan Gerolamo Savoldo, Milan 1963, p. 223.

11.  See Genueser Zeichungen des 16. bis 18. Jahrhunderts im Hessischen Landesmuseum Darmstadt, exhibition catalogue, Darmstadt 1990, no. 77. 

12. C. G. Ratti, Instruzione di quanto può vedersi di più bello in Genova in pittura, scultura, ed architettura ecc., Genoa 1780, pp. 193, 195.

13. See under Literature.

2015 is the 400th anniversary of Govert Flinck's birth, and his quadricentenary has been marked by two exhibitions: one in his birthplace of Cleves; the other in Birmingham at The Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Like many of Rembrandt's best pupils, Flinck evolved a style that is distinctive and personal, while remaining palpably Rembrandtesque. This work is an outstanding example of his tronie paintings (fancy-dress studies, based on a real likeness) of the first half of the 1640s (est. £200,000-300,000). 


Govert Flinck (Kleve 1615 - 1660 Amsterdam), A tronie of a young woman, oil on oak panel, current and original size, without subsequent additions: 64.3 by 46.3 cm.;  25 1/4  by 18 1/4  in. Estimate 200,000 — 300,000 GBP (273,440 - 410,160 EUR). Photo Sotheby's.

Provenance: Sir Berkeley Sheffield, Bt., Normanby Park, Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire; 
By whom sold, London, Christie's, 16 July 1943, lot 107 (as Rembrandt, Portrait of Saskia);
With Leger Galleries, London, 1944;
With Hallsborough Gallery, London;
Martha Wiberg, Stockholm (according to a label affixed to the reverse);
Private collection, Munich, 1992 (according to the 1992 exhibition label affixed to the reverse);
Thence by inheritance to the present owners

Exhibited: London, Leger Galleries, Modern Paintings, 21 April – 30 May 1944;
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, Holländska mästere i svensk ägo, 1967, no. 51;
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, Rembrandt Och Hans Tid: människan i centrum, 2 October 1992 – 6 January 1993, no. 87.

Literature: J.W. von Moltke, Govaert Flinck 1615–1660, Amsterdam 1965, pp. 26 and 157, cat. no. 435, reproduced plate 49 (as reputedly a portrait of Rembrandt's first wife Saskia and as pendant to a portrait of Rembrandt, also as typical of Flinck's work in the early 1640s, but also closely related to F. Bol);
W. Sumowski, Drawings of the Rembrandt School, New York 1979, vol. IV, p. 2144 (as circa 1640);
S.A.C. Dudok van Heel, 'Enkele portretten 'à l'antique' door Rembrandt, Bol, Flinck en Backer', in De Kroniek van het Rembrandthuis, 32, 1980/81, p. 6, reproduced fig. 12, p. 7 (as Portrait of the artist's wife, Ingeltje Thovelingh);
W. Sumowski, Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler, vol. II, Landau 1983, p. 1035, cat. no. 681, reproduced p. 1113;
J. Bruyn, 'Rezension von W. Sumowski, Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler, Band I u. II', in Oud Holland, XCVIII, 1984, p. 216, note 7 (as Portrait of the artist's wife, Ingeltje Thovelingh);
B. L.[undström], in G. Cavalli-Björkman (ed.), Rembrandt Och Hans Tid: människan i centrum, exhibition catalogue, Stockholm 1992, p. 258, cat. no. 87, reproduced in colour;
W. Sumowski, Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler, vol. VI, Landau 1983, p. 3608, cat. no. 681;
N. Birnfeld, Der Künstler und seine Frau : Studien zu Doppelbildnissen des 15.–17. Jahrhunderts, Weimar 2009, pp. 244–45, cat. no. 41, reproduced fig. 110.

Notes: Govert Flinck was a pupil of Rembrandt from 1633 until 1636, when he set up as an independent master, and his first dated works appear, although he probably continued to work for Rembrandt's father-in-law Hendrick Uylenburgh for another eight years.  Like many of Rembrandt's best pupils from his early Amsterdam phase such as Ferdinand Bol and Jacob Backer, Flinck evolved a style that is distinctive and personal, but until at least the end of the 1640s remains palpably Rembrandtesque. 

This is a tronie, or fancy-dress study, based on a real likeness.  Rembrandt developed the tronie and painted many of them from his Leiden period onward, though they fell out of fashion after the 1640s.  Students and studio assistants as well as friends and family no doubt provided his models, but many tronies, both by Rembrandt and his pupils, are of identified persons, of whom the most famous is Rembrandt's first wife Saskia Uylenburgh.  Many of Rembrandt's self-portraits also take the form of tronies, and these, in which fancy caps and lavish costumes feature strongly, are how we tend to visualize him, at least in the 1630s.  Flinck, along with many of Rembrandt's pupils from the first decade of his Amsterdam period, continued to produce tronies in large numbers, presumably to meet the great demand for them.  Simon Schama no doubt had the Rembrandtesque tronie at the forefront of his mind when he recently remarked to camera "Dutch art has a very large hat department."1

This tronie, of a young woman in a large red cap embellished with a feather, lavishly dressed with a fine chemise, a red cloak and a gold chain around her neck was once thought to be a portrait by Flinck of Rembrandt’s wife Saskia. It has more recently been suggested by Dudok van Heel and others, that the young woman depicted is Govert Flinck’s wife Ingertje Thovelingh.2  It was long considered a pendant to a work that is a self-portrait by Flinck, signed and dated 1643 (Leiden Gallery, New York), and the two hung as pendant portraits then identified as depicting Rembrandt and his wife Saskia at Normanby Park until sold in 1943 as consecutive lots, and thus separated.3  The present picture however had been enlarged on all four sides and given a faux-arched top, probably to make it match the dimensions and shape of the self-portrait.  The enlargements do not appear to be 17th Century, so it is unlikely that they were created separately but made into a pair, for example upon their marriage.  A further, though lesser objection to the identification as Flinck’s wife is that while the couple were married on 16th June 1645, the present picture is more consistent with Flinck’s work in the early 1640s, although a date as late as 1645 is certainly conceivable.  In the absence of a positive identification of the sitter, this work should best be considered an outstanding example of his tronie painting in the first half of the 1640s.

This painting has recently been returned to its original size and shape. The enlargement with strips of oak on all four sides was done long ago, probably in the 18th Century, and the upper corners cut to give the impression of a curved top, the curvature mostly delineated in the added strip.  The additions appear to have pinioned the panel, causing it to develop vertical cracks along the grain.  A cradling affixed to the reverse, perhaps with the intention of remedying the cracks caused them instead to open further.  In the summer of 2015 the painted surface was cleaned by Simon Folkes, and the cradling and additions removed by Simon and Tom Bobak.4  This allowed the cracks to knit back together almost perfectly, revealing a painted surface preserved in remarkably good order.  It is now apparent that the top corners were not originally curved, but were adapted later.

2015 is the 400th anniversary of Govert Flinck's birth, and his quadricentenary has been marked by two exhibitions commemorating his achievements as an artist.  One is in his birthplace of Cleves: Museum Kurhaus Kleve, Govert Govert Flinck - Reflecting History, 4 October 2015 - 17 January 2016, curated by Tom van der Molen, and with a catalogue edited by him (we are most grateful to him for his help in cataloguing the present lot).  The other is in Birmingham, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Flinck in Focus, 23 October 2015 - 24th January 2016 (without catalogue).

1.  In The Face of Britain, broadcast BBC2, 28th October 2015.

2.  See under literature  J. Bruyn and N. Birnfeld repeated this view.

3.  Currently exhibited in Cleves, Museum Kurhaus Kleve. 

4. Their reports are available upon request.

This Betrayal of Christ may well be the earliest night scene in Northern European panel painting. It is the left wing of a small triptych commissioned in Paris at the end of the 1440s or around 1450 by Dreux Budé, who is here portrayed kneeling with his son. The central panel of the Crucifixion is in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and the right wing, depicting the Resurrection and including the sitter’s wife Jeanne Peschard and her daughters presented by Saint Catherine, is in the Musée Fabre in Montpellier. The three panels were re-united for the first time in Chicago Art Institute exhibition Kings, Queens and Courtiers. Art in Early Renaissance France in 2011. 

The Master of the Dreux Budé Triptych was probably also responsible for the design and part of the execution of the Crucifixion of the Parlement of Paris in the Louvre, Paris, which is perhaps the most celebrated of all Parisian 15th-century panel paintings (est. £400,000-600,000).  


The Master of the Dreux Budé Triptych (Active Amiens 1425/6 – Mons 1450), The left wing of the Dreux Budé Triptych: The betrayal and arrest of Christ, with the donor Dreux Budé and his son Jean presented by Saint Christopher. Indistinctly inscribed on the blade of the sword centre left: HIC ME .  This is probably the last three words of Matthew 26 verse 23: Hic Me Tradet (`he will betray me'), oil on oak panel. Panel dimensions: 48.7 by 30.5 cm.; 19 1/8  by 12 in. Approximate dimensions of painted surface: 45.5 by 28cm. 18 by 11 ins. Estimate 400,000 — 600,000 GBP (546,880 - 820,320 EUR). Photo Sotheby's.

Provenance:Painted circa 1450 for Dreux Budé, probably for the chapel of the Virgin and Saint Christopher, Church of Saint-Gervais-Saint Protais, Paris;
With F.T. Sabin, London, 1953;
With L.N. Malmedé, Cologne;
Dr Heinrich Becker, Dortmund, by 1967 (as Jan Joest van Calcar);
With Hans M. Cramer, The Hague, 1975–79 (Catalogue XX, 1975/6, no. 71; Catalogue XXI, 1979, no. 19);
Dr Heinrich Bischoff, Berlin;
Thence by descent.

Exhibited: Dortmund, Schloss Cappenburg, Museum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Meisterwerke alter Malerei, 1954, no. 23;
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts; Delft, Prinsenhof, Dieric Bouts, 1957–58, no. 23;
Kassel, Staatliche Museen, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, on loan, 1990s (inv. L 1003);
Bruges, Groeningemuseum, Jan van Eyck und seine Zeit, 15 March – 30 June 2002, no. 68, with the right wing;
Chicago, The Art Institute, Kings, Queens and Courtiers. Art in Early Renaissance France, 27 February – 30 May 2011, no. 6, with the central panel (no. 7) and the right wing (no. 8)


Literature: L. Baldass, 'Eine altniederländische Aufstehung Christi,' in Kunstchronik, 32, 1920–21, pp. 634–47;
A. Stange, Deutsche Malerei der Gotik, vol. 6, Nordwestdeutschland in der Zeit von 1450 bis 1515, Munich–Berlin 1934–61 (1954), p. 67 (as Jan Joest van Calcar);
G. Isarlo, Combat-art, no. 3, May 1954;
R. Fritz, Sammlung Becker, vol. I, Gemälde Alter Meister, (unpaginated), no. 5, reproduced (as Jan Joest van Calcar);
B.B. Fredericksen, 'A Parisian Triptych Reconstructed,' in The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, no. 11, 1983, pp. 183–96 (as Franco-Flemish Master, after 1450);
Ch. Sterling, La Peinture médiévale à Paris 1300–1500, vol. II, Paris 1987–90 (1990), pp. 55–75, no. 4 (as Master of the Dreux-Budé Triptych, possibly Conrad de Vulcop?);
N. Reynaud in F. Avril & N. Reynaud (eds.), Les Manuscrits à Peintures en France: 1440–1520, Paris 1993, pp. 53–58;
B. Schnackenburg, in E. Mai (ed.), Das Kabinett des Sammlers, Cologne 1993, pp. 57–59, no. 23, reproduced (as North-Netherlandish Master, active in Paris mid-15th century, (Conrad de Vulcop?), circa 1455);
J. Dijkstra, 'Enkele opmerkingen op het Retable du Parlement du Paris,' in P. van den Brink & L.M. Helmus (eds.), Album Amicorum J.R.J. van Asperen de Boer, Zwolle 1997, pp. 53–59;
P. Lorentz, 1998, 'A propos du réalisme flamand: la Crucifixion du Parlement de Paris et la porte du beau roi Philippe au Palais de la Cité,' in Cahiers de la Rotonde, 20, pp. 101–24;
P. Lorentz & M. Comblen-Sonkes, Le Musée national du Louvre, Paris, vol. 3, Corpus de la peinture des anciens Pays-Bas méridionaux au quinzième siècle, Brussels 2001, pp. 81–132;
P. Lorentz, in T. Holger Borchert, The Age of Van Eyck. The Mediterranean World and Early Netherlandish Painting 1430–1530, exhibition catalogue, Ghent and Amsterdam 2002, pp. 69–71, reproduced p. 70, fig. 84; also p. 249, no. 68, reproduced;
P. Lorentz, La Crucifixion du Parlement de Paris, Paris 2004, pp. 40–49;
I. Nettekoven, 'Der Meister der Apokalypsenrose der Sainte Chapelle und die Pariser Buchkunst um 1500,' inArs nova, 9, Turnhout 2004, pp.34–37;
P. L[orentz], in M. Wolff (ed.), Kings, Queens and Courtiers. Art in Early Renaissance France, exhibition catalogue, New Haven & London 2011, pp. 52–55, no. 6, reproduced (with detail of infrared reflectogram fig. 25); also F. Elsig, idem, p. 42.

Notes: This is the left wing of a small triptych commissioned in Paris at the end of the 1440s or around 1450 by Dreux Budé, who is here portrayed kneeling with his son. The central panel of the Crucifixion is in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and the right wing, depicting the Resurrection and including the sitter’s wife Jeanne Peschard and her daughters presented by Saint Catherine, is in the Musée Fabre at Montpellier.1 The three panels were re-united for the first time in the Chicago exhibition, and the triptych is reproduced here in its original form, fig. 1.2


fig. 1. The Master of the Dreux Budé Triptych, probably André d'Ypres, The Crucifixion, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program. (Central panel of the original triptych)

The exterior of the wings were probably originally painted en grisaille, but no trace remains of either. An unrelated exterior right wing painted in this form, also by the Master of Dreux-Budé, depicts the three kneeling female donors very much as they appear in the Musée Fabre wing: Jeanne Peschard and her daughters Jacquette (wearing the same butterfly henin headdress) and Catherine Budé; it was discovered by Charles Sterling (see fig. 3).3 Jeanne Peschard kneels at a prie-dieuwhich bears an escutcheon with her coat-of-arms, identifying her as married, which enables her to be identified, and which enabled the triptych to be identified as well.


fig. 3. The Master of the Dreux Budé Triptychprobably André d'Ypres, Crucifixion of the Parlement of Paris, Musée du Louvre, Paris © Bridgeman Images

Dreux Budé and Jeanne Peschard married in 1422. Both were from prominent Parisian families. Jeanne was the daughter of Jean Peschard and Jeanne Gencin. The Budé family came from Auxerre, but were established in Paris by the end of the 14thcentury, where their wealth stemmed from the wine trade. Dreux Budé was Notary and Secretary to King Charles VII, and named audiencier of the Royal Chancellery in 1440. He continued to serve the king until Charles VII’s death in 1461, and remained in the service of the Royal Court until his own death in about 1475–76. He was at the peak of his power and wealth in the 1450s, when he held the office of dean of merchants, and was in charge of the municipality of Paris. Their milieu was closely involved with the commissioning of major works of art. The youngest daughter Catherine (d. 1452) married in 1444 Étienne Chevalier, who commissioned Jean Fouquet to create a Book of Hours (1452–1561) and the celebrated Melun Diptych of circa 1452–55.4

From their arrival in Paris onwards, the Budés always lived in the parish of Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais. In the middle of the 15th century, Dreux Budé and Jeanne Peschard founded a chapel dedicated to the Virgin and Saint Christopher in the chevetbehind the main altar of the parish church, intending it to house their tombs. The presence of Saint Christopher in the present wing, presenting the Donor, makes it highly likely that the triptych to which it belonged was intended for this chapel.5Its proportions are those of a work commissioned for a secondary chapel, and the figure of Christ in the central panel corresponds to the point where a priest would have elevated the Host while celebrating Mass. The Dreux Budé Triptych has traditionally been dated 1454, the presumed date of the foundation of the Budé chapel.  In a document of 1453 however, the chapel is described as de nouvel ('newly built'), which makes it more likely that both the chapel and the triptych intended for it were commissioned a few years earlier.6      

The Master of the Dreux Budé Triptych was probably also responsible for the design and part of the execution of theCrucifixion of the Parlement of Paris in the Louvre, Paris (see fig. 2), which is perhaps the most celebrated of all Parisian 15th-century panel paintings, and which has usually been dated circa 1455, but may have been started a few years earlier. Like the Dreux Budé Triptych, its authorship has been assigned to a nom de guerre: The Master of the Crucifixion of the Paris Parlement. Between them, they represent the most important surviving examples in panel painting of the absorption in Paris of the latest pictorial advances made in The Netherlands, and mark the arrival of the Early Renaissance in Paris. This migration of artistic talent was due to the sphere of influence of the Burgundian court, whose territories included the prosperous cities of The Netherlands, and in artistic terms especially Bruges, Ghent, Brussels, Valenciennes and Tournai, but also Dijon and Beaune to the south-east of Paris, the latter the destination for Rogier van der Weyden’s Last Judgment. Rogier, together with The Master of Flémalle, was the most dominant of the Netherlandish artistic personalities, whose ideas and designs influenced The Master of 1451 in Picardy, Simon Marmion in Valenciennes, and André d’Ypres, who moved from Tournai to Paris by the mid-1440s. Tournai was not formally part of the Duchy of Burgundy, being directly dependent on the French crown, and the connections between the city and Paris would perhaps have facilitated the move. 


fig. 2.  The Master of the Dreux Budé Triptychprobably André d'Ypres, The Resurrection with Jeanne Peschard and her daughters presented by St Catherine, Musée Fabre, Montpellier (Right wing of original triptych)

Since the panels comprising the present triptych were identified by Sterling, the author has been named as The Master of the Dreux-Budé Triptych, probably author too of the Parlement Crucifixion, and of other mid-15th-century Parisian works, including designs for stained glass for the nave of the church of Saint-Séverin, and of manuscript illuminations. His work has also been associated with the output of an artist of a younger generation, known as the Master of Coëtivy, who is thought to have contributed to the Parlement Crucifixion. Sterling suggested that the Dreux Budé triptych could have been the work of Conrad de Vulcop, the Utrecht-born peintre ordinaire of King Charles VII. A stronger candidate for the Master of the Dreux Budé is André d’Ypres, who was mentioned in Amiens in 1425–26, and who was admitted as a Free Master in the Tournai Guild on 13 September 1428. He settled in Paris by circa 1445, but died at Mons while returning from a pilgrimage to Rome in July 1450. At this date the Parlement Crucifixion would probably still have been in progress, and his son Nicolas (or Colin) d’Amiens could have finished it, information supported by the recent discovery that a payment was set aside for the painting in February 1449, well over a year before André d’Ypres’ likely departure for Rome and fifteen months before his death.7 This would account for the presence of two hands in the work, one of a younger generation, and would make it likely that Nicolas d’Amiens should be identified as the Master of Coëtivy. Like the Parlement Crucifixion, the Dreux-Budé Triptych is profoundly influenced by Rogier van der Weyden.  While coeval with Rogier’s later work, it particularly reflects characteristics of Rogier’s output in Tournai in the early 1430s, when it is likely that both artists lived there. While the identity of André d’Ypres as the Master of the Dreux Budé Triptych is plausible, it cannot be proved (nor that of his son as the Coëtivy Master), but we can at least be confident that the Master was a painter of considerable talent, active in Paris around 1450, and steeped in the art of Rogier van der Weyden, probably when the latter was in Tournai.8  

The complete Dreux Budé triptych presents a cohesive compositional whole.  The horizon lines of the two wings correspond with each other and with the central panel, and in each the principal figures are set back a little from the picture-plane, with subsidiary figures beneath them in the lower foreground.  The donors in each are set in the same relationship with the figure of Christ, whose almond-shaped physiognomy is identical in both. The artist was clearly acutely aware how the balance of colours should work harmoniously throughout the overall composition of the triptych. In both wings red and dark blues in the draperies worn by figures are set in contrast to animate their arrangement, and they and greens work in harmony in the central panel. This use of colour to achieve harmonious compositional balance is a wholly Rogierian characteristic at this date, and shows how well the painter had absorbed Rogier van der Weyden’s precepts.

The composition of the present left wing is however less obviously Rogierian when viewed independently. For one thing, no surviving night scene by Rogier is known, let alone one from this early date, and the present work must be one of the earliest nocturnal settings in Northern European panel painting, if not the earliest, at least by a major hand.9 There are however, noticeable similarities between the present work and the same subject depicted, as it should be, at night, illuminated by torches, in a Manuscript illumination in the Turin-Milan Hours closely associated with Jan or Hubert van Eyck, and variously dated between the early 1420s and the late 1430s.  There may well have been intermediate sources for the present work in manuscript illumination.

The subject, related in Matthew, 26, is set under a starry night sky with a crescent moon.  Low hills separate the action in the foreground from the walled town of Jerusalem, with gothic spires.  Several hidden light sources illuminate the bases of buildings behind the walls.  the town gate has a Romanesque arch and before it are torches which illuminate the walls flanking the gate and the road leafing to it, where several figures may be seen.  There are several torches held aloft by the soldiers come to arrest Our Lord (`a great multitude with swords and staves').  Those nearer the viewer, and a lantern illuminate the their faces or the sides of their heads, and are reflected in helmets.  The high priest's servant who has just just had his ear lopped off by an unnamed Disciple fumbles on his knees in the immediate foreground for his broken lantern, and perhaps for his ear, while raising his right hand to the wound (he is looking in the wrong place; the ear is closer to Christ's feet).  The Disciple, wearing a satisfied expression, replaces his sword in its scabbard, on which Christ's hand rests.  (`And behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, and struck the a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear').  As one might expect, there is no light source within the picture for the face of Christ as he receives the kiss of Judas, since is the Light of the World.  Both Dreux Budé and his son are lit by Christ's face.  Christ occurs twice in the painting, since as an Infant He is seated on the shoulders of Saint Christopher, where he is lit from the central figure group, the right side of His head in shadow.  The orb that he holds is similarly lit, but the other side of it is lit in half-tones to emphasize it's shape - a remarkably sophisiticated pictorial device for this early date.  

Infra-red imaging conducted by Rachel Billinge in advance of the Chicago exhibition revealed vigorous underdrawing with vigorous hatching very similar to the underdrawing of the central panel in the Getty Museum.10  More recently the infra-red imaging was redone by Art Analysis Research (see detail fig. 4).11    The underdrawing was done in two stages: broad outline done with the point of the brush (the only underdrawing at all in the background), and finer scratchier underdrawing done probably with chalk and mostly in the form of hatching and which is only to be found in the figures, where the artist was apparently intensely interested in the modelling of the drapery.  Tree ring analysis conducted by Ian Tyers suggests that the wide and the narrow board that comprise the panel come from different oak trees, not Baltic and probably of French or Netherlandish origin, and the pattern of rings is too erratic to yield data.


 fig. 4. The Master of the Dreux Budé Triptychprobably André d'YpresJeanne Peschard and her daughters Jacquette and Catherine Budé, as donors © Sotheby's

1. The central panel, which measures 47.9 by 71.8 cm., includes to the left Christ carrying the Cross and tended by St Irene, and to the right the Harrowing of Hell; Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum, inv. 79.PB.177.  The wings are of almost identical dimensions. The right wing measures 48.5 by 30.5 cm.; Montpellier, Musée Fabre, inv. 892.4.7.

2. See under Exhibited, and Lorentz, under Literature, 2011.

3. Offered in these Rooms, 4 July 2012, lot 8, withdrawn. Oil on panel, en grisaille, 35 by 28 cm. (but originally probably circa45 by 28 cm.); see Sterling, 1990, pp. 15, 51–53, 57, 62–63,  no. 3, reproduced fig. 58. A complementary exterior left wing en grisaille must have existed, but remains lost.

4. For the Heures d’Étienne Chevalier see F. Avril (ed.), Jean Fouquet. Peintre enlumineur du XVe siècle, exhibition catalogue, Paris 2003, pp. 193–217, no. 24, reproduced copiously. The leaves are widely dispersed. The Melun Diptych is divided between Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, inv. 132 (left wing) and Berlin, Staatliche Museen, Gemäldegalerie, inv. 1617 (right wing); idem, pp. 121–30, nos. 7 and 8, reproduced.

5. Dreux Budé is belived to have been particularly devoted to Saint Christopher.

6. Archives nationales, Paris, L 651. In the document Dreux Budé and Jeanne Peschard establish a low Mass in their chapel in Saint Gervais.

7. This information has only recently been uncovered, and though initially inconvenient for the reconstruction of the œuvre of André d’Amiens, especially as the author of the Parlement Crucifixion, it prompted a re-examination of the archival records of the Parlement, uncovering the earlier payment; see Lorentz 2002 under Literature, p. 69, n. 13.

8. Rogier’s whereabouts in the 1430s are not known with certainty, and have been the subject of conjecture, often conflicting.

9. There are significantly earlier examples in Italian painting, for example in Taddeo Gaddi’s fresco of the Annunciation to the Shepherds in the Baroncelli chapel, Santa Croce, Florence, which dates from 1328, and by the early 15th century night scenes occur with some frequency in predella panels by Lorenzo Monaco, Gentile da Fabriano and others (see H. Gassner, in C. Vitali (ed.), Die Nacht, exhibition catalogue, Munich 1998, p. 42).

10.  See Lorentz under Literature, 2011, detail reproduced fig. 25.

11.  Report number AAR0780A.  High resolution images are available on request.

A master of subtle chiaroscuro, Joseph Wright of Derby is one of the most important of the late 18th-century artists who define the British Romantic movement. Painted in 1780, and exhibited at the Royal Academy that year, this painting is one of a distinguished group of works inspired by the artist's travels in Italy, and demonstrates the profound impact which that experience had on his art. Based on a detail drawing done on the spot in 1774, the painting depicts a cavern in the Gulf of Salerno, near Naples, and is as startling for the originality of its composition as it is for the exquisite treatment of light. 

Representing the apex of Wright’s creative engagement with the subject of Neapolitan caverns, the work has been donated to The United Society (Us) and will be auctioned in order to raise funds for the relief of the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe (est. £100,000-150,000). 


Joseph Wright of Derby, A.R.A. (Derby 1734 – 1797), A grotto in the gulf of Salerno, with the figure of Julia, banished from Rome, oil on canvas, held in its original Wright of Derby Neo-Classical frame, 124 by 172 cm.; 48 3/4  by 67 3/4  in. Estimate 100,000 — 150,000 GBP 136,720 - 205,080 EUR). Photo Sotheby's.

Provenance: Purchased from the artist by Joshua Cockshutt Esq., of Chaddesden, Derbyshire, for £105;

By descent to Captain Cockshutt Twiselton Heathcote (1793–1885), until 1840, when the picture was given in lieu of payment for a debt;

Private collection, Derbyshire, 1840 to 2015;

From which donated to The United Society (Us), in order to raise funds for the relief of the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe.

Exhibited: London, Royal Academy, 1780, no. 203 (as 'A cavern with the figure of Julia banished thither by her grandfather Augustus');

London, Tate Gallery, Wright of Derby, 7 February – 22 April 1990, no. 100;

Paris, Grand Palais, Wright of Derby, 17 May – 23 July 1990, no. 100;

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wright of Derby, 6 September – 2 December 1990, no. 100.

Literature: W. Bemrose, The Life and Works of Joseph Wright, A.R.A., commonly called 'Wright of Derby', London and Derby 1885, p. 121;

B. Nicholson, Joseph Wright of Derby. Painter of Light, 2 vols., London and New York 1968, vol. I, pp. 83, 158 and 256, no. 278, vol. II, p. 134, reproduced plate 215;

J. Egerton, Wright of Derby, exhibition catalogue, London, Tate Britain, 1990, pp. 164–65 and 285–86, cat no. 100, reproduced in colour.

Notes: master of subtle chiaroscuro, Joseph Wright of Derby is one of the most important of the late eighteenth-century artists who define the British Romantic movement. Painted in 1780, and exhibited at the Royal Academy that year, this painting is one of a distinguished group of works inspired by the artist's travels in Italy, and demonstrates the profound impact which that experience had on his art. Based on a detail drawing done on the spot in 1774, the painting depicts a cavern in the Gulf of Salerno, near Naples, and is as startling for the originality of its composition as it is for the exquisite treatment of light.

Despite beginning his career as a portraitist, working briefly in Liverpool before attempting to fill the void left by Gainsborough's exodus from Bath, many of Wright's best loved works are landscape and genre scenes, especially those which deal in particularly dramatic effects of light. Wright's earliest known pure landscape is a picture entitled Rocks with Waterfall, painted in circa 1772 (Private collection). It was not until he travelled to Italy however, that landscapes really start to feature prominently in his art, and it is this development that represents the most significant and lasting influence of Wright's experience on the continent. In Italy, away from the time constraints of portrait commissions, Wright was able to fully immerse himself in the study of topography and made more drawings than he had previously had time for. He sketched heavily throughout his travels, engrossed not only in the landscape of Italy, but the mythology of classical antiquity as well. The experience was a personal revelation, and following his return to England he seized every chance he had to ,paint landscapes; writing to a friend in 1792 'I know not how it is, tho' I am ingaged in portraits... I find myself continually stealing off, and getting to Landscapes'.

In 1773 Wright had left England with his wife, his pupil Richard Hurlstone, and the artist John Downman, arriving in Nice in December, before travelling on to Genoa and Leghorn. Continuing overland they arrived in Rome in February 1774, where Wright stayed for seven months studying the splendours of classical antiquity. Writing on 22 May 1774 he noted 'I have not time to enter into a particular detail of the fine things this country abounds with; let it suffice to tell you, at present, that the artist finds here whatever may facilitate and improve his studies'.1 In the autumn he travelled on to Naples and the area around the gulf of Salerno, a popular destination for the cognoscenti of his generation, and over the course of more than a month visited Pompeii, Herculaneum and the Museum at Naples, as well as Virgil's tomb and the coastal grottos for which that region is famed. This picture is evolved from a chalk drawing Wright made on the spot in the Gulf of Salerno, one of two studiously observed and minutely detailed sketches of particular caverns which clearly captured the artist’s imagination (figs. 1 and 2). 


fig.1. Joseph Wright of Derby, A.R.A., A Grotto in the Kingdom of Naples, with Banditti, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Bridgeman Images


fig.2. Wright's original bill of sale

Whilst exceptionally highly finished, these two drawings simultaneously convey a sense of controlled excitement, as if the artist’s mind, mesmerised with poetic visions, already teamed with the potential drama that might be portrayed within these seeming voids, and Wright would ultimately develop at least six paintings from them. Whilst still in Italy he painted straight oil on canvas versions of the two chalk drawings (Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven & Smith College Museum of Art, Massachusetts respectively), and later, back in England, developed the compositions further into two large and intensely dramatic subjects; A Grotto by the sea-side in the Kingdom of Naples, with Banditti: a Sun-set(Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), exhibited at the Academy in 1778; and the present painting, which he exhibited in 1780. Two further grotto scenes, painted later in the 1780s for William Hardman of Manchester, replicate those he painted in Italy (now untraced), and a small number of other later grotto subjects are known. Though he returned to the subjects often, this picture and its companion with Banditti represent the apex of Wrights creative engagement with these Neapolitan caverns, and are among the most romantic of all his paintings. The dramatic play of light, glancing off rocks and shimmering upon water is characteristic of his very finest landscapes. Indeed, referring to these grotto scenes, the great Wright scholar Benedict Nicholson noted; ‘it is not easy to imagine two more Wright-like visions than these. The pelvis-shaped arch held all that was most precious to him, appealing both to his scientific and to his romantic temperament (and as we know there was no contradiction between the two): on the one hand, the logic of a firm structure of rock, geological in its fissures; on the other, the marvel of iridescent light’.2   


Joseph Wright of Derby, A.R.A., A cavern in the Gulf of Salerno


Joseph Wright of Derby, A.R.A., A cavern in the Gulf of Salerno

The two pictures were acquired from the artist by Joshua Cockshutt, of Chaddesden, in 1780 and hung together until theGrotto… with Banditti was sold in these rooms in 1986. Unlike Wright’s other grotto views, which are empty save for light, air and sea, both pictures have a narrative element that heightens the drama of the cavernous voids. Three errant Julias were banished from Rome during classical antiquity, all for adultery, all within about a forty year period during the 1st century BC, and all to virtually inaccessible islands. Whilst the title given to this picture at the 1780 Royal Academy exhibition leaves it ambiguous as to which of these three she is meant to be, another version of the subject was exhibited by Wright at Robin’s Rooms in 1785 (no. 7) under the somewhat loquacious title Julia, the daughter of Augustus, and supposed mistress of Ovid, deploring her exile by moonlight, in a cavern of the island to which she was banished, thereby confirming her identity. Much the best known of three possible candidates, Julia, the only child of Emperor Augustus and his wife Scribonia, was the wife of the great Roman general Agrippa, and following his death married Tiberius, who succeeded her father as Emperor. However her many blatant adulteries became so great a scandal that in the year 2 BC Julia was banished to the island of Pandateria, of the coast of Campania, near Naples – a coastline that Wright had explored, and it is possible that he would have heard the story of Julia’s banishment whilst staying in Naples.

The subject of the Boston picture, one half of which is commanded by an ethereal light floating in over the soundless sea, the other dominated by the banditti of Wright’s title, is at first seemingly unrelated and borrows heavily for its tone and figural content from the work of Salvator Rosa, as well as Wright’s friend and contemporary painter John Hamilton Mortimer. Seen on their own the enigmatically grouped banditti have an elusive and mysterious imaginative force, though their purpose is not entirely clear. It was suggested by Nicholson that they ‘are not of this world at all but belong to the classical stage, plotting, we would say, not a routine robbery but the murder of Hector’.3 Judy Egerton, however, has suggested that there is some connection between the subjects in these two companion pieces. With the story of Julia's banishment in mind, cast as she was onto an island in the Bay of Naples, can the banditti be a troop of mercenaries who took her there and are now deliberating as to the justice of her plight, stricken with remorse at their part in terrible fate. The hypothesis is conjectural, but seen together the subtle narrative, with its contrasting emotive themes, would have appealed to Wright’s highly romantic imagination. The two pictures also work as a pair in terms of contrasting studies in light – the one a warm suffusion of dazzling golden sunlight as the sun sets upon the late afternoon torpor of the Tyrrhenian sea; the other a cool moonlight that meanders its way into the crevices of black rock, staving off the impenetrable darkness and illuminating the cave with a crisp evening glow. 

Wright’s choice of Ovid’s mistress for his subject links these grotto paintings to the other great cavern views among his Italian landscapes: Virgil’s Tomb by Moonlight. Like the grotto series there are six known versions of the composition by the artist, the most famous of which includes the equally forlorn figure of the Roman Consul Silius Italicus, declaiming the works of the long dead poet by the orange glow of candlelight (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). As with the artist’s juxtaposition of differing lights in his pendant landscapes, so too in his choice of subject for his two great series of Italian landscapes he contrasts the opposing virtues of the two great Augustan poets, Virgil and Ovid. On the one hand Virgil, the embodiment of chaste piety, on the other Ovid who epitomised licentiousness and the fulfilment of personal pleasure – particularly the pleasures of the flesh. Comparison between the two provides an opportunity for epistemological reflection that speaks to the circle of Enlightenment thinkers and intellectuals of which Wright was very much a part. It is therefore interesting, but perhaps not surprising that, together with A Grotto... with Banditti and A Grotto… with the figure of Julia, Joshua Cockshutt, who originally bought the pictures from the artist, also owned one of Wright’s versions of Virgil’s Tomb

Cockshutt was a member of a celebrated family of ironmasters who built a flourishing ironworks at Wortley in South Yorkshire, and lived at Chaddesden, near Derby.4 He paid Wright a combined price of 250 guineas for his two grotto landscapes, and enormous sum which was only matched at the time by the two views of Vesuvius that Wright sold to Catherine the Great in 1779. This picture has never been on the market since, and only changed hands once when it was accepted in lieu of a debt, together with Cockshutt’s other two Wright of Derby landscapes, owed by one of his descendants in 1840. It is an exceptional piece of painting, and an exquisite example of the artist's idiosyncratic depiction of light, for which he had rightly become famous in such earlier works as An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (National Gallery, London), of 1768, and An Academy by Lamplight (Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven), of 1769, and for which he was both celebrated by contemporaries and is famous for today. 

1. J. Ingamells, A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy 1701–1800, New Haven and London 1997, p. 1024.

2. B. Nicholson, Joseph Wright of Derby. Painter of Light, 2 vols., London and New York 1968, vol. I, p.82.

3. B. Nicholson, Joseph Wright of Derby. Painter of Light, 2 vols., London and New York 1968, vol. I, p. 83.

4. See C. Reginald Andrews, The Story of Wortley Ironworks, 1956, p. 45.