Anthony van Dyck, Self-Portrait, private collection.

Loan works for the Rubenshuis

High prices on the art market have ensured that museums in Belgium are scarcely able to still purchase masterpieces. For a few years now, the Rubenshuis in Antwerp is actively pursuing long-term loans from private or public collections. As such, the Rubenshuis has added seven paintings to its collection.

Van Dyck Self-Portrait

Recently, the unknown Self-Portrait by Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) surfaced on the art market. The painting was previously attributed to one of his followers. The Rubenshuis in Antwerp has the portrait on a long-term loan.

Van Dyck was the most famous pupil from the studio of Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). Rubens declared him outright as his best student. The wunderkind Van Dyck worked at a furious tempo on his exceptionally well-endowed oeuvre. Along with Rubens, he is one of the determining figures of the Baroque in the Southern Netherlands.

Van Dyck painted the conscious Self-Portrait on assignment by the English King Charles I. Self-portraits of successful artists were revered objects for art collectors. Charles I himself had a small, yet exquisite collection of self-portraits by Titian, Bronzino, Giulio Romano, Rubens and Van Dyck. The king had enormous admiration and devotion for his court painter. That sentiment emanates from his words on Van Dyck's grave in London:
‘Anthony van Dyck, who while he lived gave immortality to many'.

The self-portrait in the Rubenshuis looks rather similar to the one in The National Portrait Gallery in London. The moustache of the artist in this portrait, however, points upwards, which heightens its formal character. The hanging moustache from the work in London is a bit more informal. It is presumed that Van Dyck completed the latter portrait for himself. The painter chose how he wished to be seen. Profiling and vanity are timeless.

Via overpaintings and the fact that the work was later readjusted to a rectangular painting, specialists had attributed the canvas to a disciple until recently. Research indicates that it should be considered to be by the hand of Van Dyck.

Other loans

The Calumny of Apelles, the intriguing work of Maerten de Vos (1532-1603), has never before been exhibited. This week it had an international premiere in the Rubenshuis. In the Spring of 2019, it shall enhance the collection of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp (KMSKA). At that time, the KMSKA, which is currently closed for renovations, reopens.

In addition, two works by Frans Pourbus de Jonge (1569-1622) were also given to the Rubenshuis on loan. Pourbus painted a detailed portrait of Elisabeth of France and of Ferdinando Gonzaga. Another loaned work is by the hand of Jan Cossiers (1600-1671). It is the lifelike portrait of a young man. Both Pourbus and Cossiers were business associates of Rubens. In mid-March, a head portrait of Jupiter by Van Dyck will also be added as a temporary acquisition. We also recognise the head in the composition of Jupiter and Antiope by Van Dyck. Of this painting, two versions are known, which are found in the collections of the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne and the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent.

As in the case of many masters, Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678) made multiple studies from living models. He later used the expressive ‘heads' in his paintings. Just such a head study of an old woman joins the collection of the Rubenshuis.

(News item March 10, 2016)