A double-sided drawing by Rubens acquired by the Musées Royaux in Brussels


21/2/11 – Acquisition – Brussels, Musées Royaux – On 26 January, the Musées Royaux in Brussels acquired a double-sided drawing by Rubens (ill. 1 and 2) with four sketches, at Christie’s New York for the expensive price of $218,500 (including charges).


1. Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)
The Abduction of Hippodamia and Hercules and Achelous
(on the front)
Red chalk - 31.1 x 46.5 cm
Brussels, Musée Royaux des Beaux-Arts
Photo : Christie’s

2. Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)
The Walk to Calvary and
Christ Is Shown to the People (on the front)
Red chalk, black and white chalk - 31.1 x 46.5 cm
Brussels, Musée Royaux des Beaux-Arts
Photo : Christie’s


These sketches, two per side, are in fact spectacular. They represent respectively The Abduction of Hippodamia and Hercules and Achelous on the front (ill. 1), The Walk to Calvary and Christ Is Shown to the People on the back (ill. 2).
The museum was interested in this sheet because the three paintings related to it are all in Brussels. The Abduction of Hippodamia is a first draft for one of Rubens’ painted compositions for Torre de la Parada. The final canvas belongs to the Prado in Madrid but an oil study resides at the Musée Royaux in Brussels. The study representing The Walk up to Calvary is preparatory for the large painting of the same subject commissioned from the artist by the Benedictine Abbey at Affligem. In this altarpiece, now exhibited at the museum, the figure of Christ is reversed. However, the painted sketch, also held in Brussels, presents Him in the same way and thus appears to correspond as being between the drawing and the final painting, in the creative process.
The provenance of the drawing is a prestigious one as it comes from the collection of Ludwig Burchard’s (1886-1960), one of the great Rubens specialists of his time.


Didier Rykner, lundi 21 février 2011



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