A Charity Sculpted by Jan van Delen To Return to its Brussels Chapel

Jan van Delen (c.1640-1703)
Charity, 1675/1680
Marble - 106.7 x 78.5 x 47 cm
Bruxelles, Fondation Roi Baudouin
Photo : Christie’s

6/7/12 - Acquisition - Brussels, Fondation Roi Baudouin and Sablons Church - Not too long ago, we had evoked on the French site the magnificent Baroque chapel of the Tour et Taxis family in the Sablons church in Brussels. It is composed of two sections : one, the entrance, presents the Funerary monument of Claude-François Lamoral de Tour et Taxis by Matthieu van Beveren ; the second one is octagonal and houses notably Saint Ursula by Jérôme Duqesnoy. In this second space, three groups representing the Theological Virtues plus a fourth group illustrating Truth decorated the niches. Two of them, Faith and Hope, were sculpted by Gabriel Grupello, the two others, Charity and Truth, were by Jan van Delen.
Most likely during the Revolution (but there is no exact date), two of the sculptures, Charity and Faith, were taken from the chapel and subsequently disappeared. In order to reestablish a certain symmetry, Truth, which was originally located next to the entrance, replaced the lost Faith to the right of the central figure of Saint Ursula.

Last 5 July, a group representing Charity by Jan van Delen was presented at an auction at Christie’s London ; it had been recently identified as decorating the entrance hall of a private Parisian residence [1]. The attribution is certain despite the lack of a signature or any old engraved or drawn representation. First of all, the composition and size correspond exactly to those of the other monuments ; furthermore, the style conforms to everything we know about Jan van Delen, the son-in-law and student of Luca Faydherbe. Fortunately, the Fondation Roi Baudoin was able to purchase the work for a total of 450,000€ (including charges). It hopes to reinstall it in the chapel "as long as maximum conditions needed for security and accessibility are put in place." Alas, at the moment only the first part of the chapel is open to visitors, while the section formerly housing Charity is closed off by a grille. If the group returns to its original spot, the partition would have to be opened completely to the public since it would otherwise be practically invisible to visitors remaining behind the grille. We hope that the statue of Faith by Gabriel Grupello will soon be recovered as well in the near future, thus allowing a complete reconstitution of this magnificent ensemble.
In any case, the Fondation Roi Baudoin announced that the work it just acquired will soon be presented to the general public.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mardi 17 juillet 2012


[1] We would like to thank Denis Coekelberghs for so kindly pointing this out to us.

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