Sunday 8 November 2015

The Rysbrack Statuettes of Rubens, van Dyck and du Quesnoy, Part 6. Engraved Sources Rubens

The Bust of Rubens in the Jesuit Church, Antwerp.
destroyed in a Fire in 1718.
As a Catholic Michael Rysbrack would almost certainly have been aware of this bust and had seen it before emigrating to England in 1720. It is interesting to surmise whether the memory of it might have acted in some way as a catalyst for the recreation of the bust and statuette of Rubens sculpted 1743, but the inspiration almost certainly came from  a work by Johann Justin Preissler of 1735.

Red Chalk drawing by Jacob de Wit 
Bust of Rubens in Jesuit Church, Antwerp
291 x 282 mm.
British Museum.
This is the frontispiece to a set of thirty-six drawings in red chalk prepared by Jacob de Wit around 1718. They are based on (lost) sketches he made while a student in Antwerp from 1711-1712 at the city's Jesuit church.

When the main body of the church was destroyed by fire in 1718 after having been struck by lightning de Wit realised the importance of his drawings as testimonies for the lost paintings.

 Johan Van Gool  -'De nieuwe schouburg der Nederlantsche kunstschilders en schilderessen', The Hague, 1751, II, p.219) reports that this set was sold to Maria Elizabeth de Waal in 1751, after which it was sold in 1755 in Amsterdam.

Previous owner/ex-collection: George Guy Greville, 4th Earl of Warwick (1818 - 93)
(L.2600, Christie's, 20-21.v.1896/103).

The thirty-nine ceiling paintings which Rubens painted in 1620-1621 for the newly-built Jesuit Church in Antwerp constituted the most extensive commission he had received up to that time. They perished in the fire of 1718, however, many of Rubens´s spirited grisaille sketches and final oil sketches for the canvas paintings have survived, and they, together with documents and with contemporary copies by other artists, allow us to reconstruct not only the iconography and compositions of the paintings, but also their style and the overall effect of the series.
The church was rebuilt by Jan Pieter van Baurscheidt the Elder.
Frontispiece to A Book of Engravings
after the lost ceiling pieces by Rubens and his studio in the Jesuit Church Antwerp.
Johann Justin Preissler (1698–1771).
Published by his brother Georg Martin Preissler.

Nuremburg 1735.
Illustrating busts of Rubens and van Dyck.
Note the turned socles and the palette.

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