Thursday 15 April 2021

Terracotta Statuettes of Duquesnoy and Van Dyck

A Pair of Terracotta Statuettes of Duquesnoy (du Quesnoy - il Fiamingo and Van Dyck

by or after Michael Rysbrack.

with dealers Blairmans in 1958.

with further information regarding the life size terracotta and marble busts of du Quesnoy by Rysbrack.

(updated 1 June 2023).

Whilst searching for information on the life and times of Samuel Tufnell (see my previous post) I came across the Blairman's advertisement below for a pair of terracotta statuettes (below) in the Connoisseur Magazine of January 1958.

It is very difficult to tell from the photograph whether these are original terracottas by Rysbrack - the size is of these two is suspicious given the size (24.4 inches) of the original terracotta of Rubens which is undoubtedly by Rysbrack.

It seems more than coincidence that a pair of these figures of the same size were sold by Sotheby's, Lot 99 - 4 December 1956.

Described as terracotta it was subsequently discovered that they were painted plaster,

Duquesnoy and van Dyck.

Described as Terracotta? almost certainly plaster.
Height 21.5 inches.

I have written at some length in a series of 32 posts on the statuettes and portrait busts of Duquesnoy, Rubens and van Dyck by Rysbrack.

For the magnificent terracotta statue of Rubens by Michael Rysbrack height 24.4 inches see -


Burlington Magazine - 5 October 1963.

Photograph of a statuette of du Quesnoy from the Burlington Magazine. Sold lot 99, Sotheby's 4th December 1956 paired with a statuette of van Dyck (subsequently shown that both were of plaster not terracotta). Height 21.5 inches, 55 cms approx.


Both of these statuettes still remain unaccounted for.


Photograph above lifted from the Burlington Magazine - 5 October 1963.

Scan of the Sotheby's Catalogue entry, Lot 99 - 4th December, 1956.


For more on the plaster statuettes of Rubens, van Dyck and du Quesnoy see previous posts from 2015 - 2016.


I am very grateful for everyone in the Sculpture Department at Sotheby's for providing me with this image.

see -

A terracotta Statuette of Francois du Quesnoy (il Fiammingo).

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.

Photographed by the author.


He is shown holding his mallet and leaning against 'The Belvedere Torso'.



It is my feeling that as the Bristol terracotta of van Dyke (above), this is also a cast of a cast - the detailing particularly of the hair and face is rather coarse for a closer look see.

For a discussion (with a couple of factual inaccuracies which are corrected here) about the sculpture of du Quesnoy (il Fiammingo) by Rysbrack see - Burlington Magazine - 5 October 1963.


The Rysbrack bust of Duquesnoy

The black and white photographs here were lifted from the article in the Burlington Magazine - 5 October 1963 written by FJB Watson in memory of Isabel Webb.


The terracotta bust was acquired by the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto in 1954.

Sold lot 43 at the Rysbrack sale of 20th April 1765, the marble version (see below) was sold, lot 65 at the same sale. 

The unsigned marble (below) is now in the de Ciccio Collection, in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples where it was put on display in 1959. 

The terracotta of Rubens was sold in the same sale lot 44 - it again came to light at a sale at Christie's lot 17, 29 June 1961.

George Vertue in his notebooks had noted "three busts in marble - he had done.- of - Rubens - Quellin & Vandyke - are highly finish. and masterly done - are standing proof of his great skill". 

The reference to Quellin being a mistake for du Quesnoy.

The colour photographs above very kindly supplied by London Sculpture Dealer Stuart Lockhead.


The Life Size Terracotta Bust of Francois du Quesnoy.

By Michael Rysbrack.

Signed and dated Mich. Rysbrack. 1743.

61.5 x 51.3 cms.


Now in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada.


Photograph from the Paul Mellon Photographic Archive.

Whilst it almost certainly represents du Quesnoy rather than van Dyck it is not a version of the 1743 Rysbrack marble bust of du Quesnoy now in the Capodimonte Museum, Naples. or the Toronto terracotta.

Perhaps an earlier? studio version. The form of the socle or base is not the usual Rysbrack method of supporting a bust.

As yet its recent history since it's sale at Sotheby's remains a mystery.


Van Dyck after Rysbrack by Wood and Caldwell.


Image here courtesy Stockspring Antiques.