DescriptionSIR ANTHONY VAN DYCK (Flemish 1599 - 1641)
Portrait of Anna Maria de Camudio, 1630
Oil on canvas
42-1/2 x 38 inches
Inscribed on chair, 1630
Sale, Christie's, London, August 1, 1929, lot 109, as "Vandyck, Portrait of Anne-Marie de Camudio, in black dress with slashed sleeves and white lace collar. Dated 1630. 43 x 38 in;"
Sale, Christie's, London, February 26, 1960, lot 72, as "Rubens, Portrait of a Woman, three-quarter length, in black dress with sleeves slashed with white, white collar and cuffs, wearing a gold chain and gold favours, seated on a brown-upholstered chair, against a brown brocade hanging-unframed-42 in by 37 ½ in." (Sold for 60 gns. to De Piro);
Sale, Sotheby's, London, April 25, 2006, lot 259, as "Follower of Sir Anthony Van Dyck";
Susan J. Barnes et al, Van Dyck: A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, New Haven and London, 2004, mentioned but not illustrated in the entry to cat. no. III.75, p. 308 as a seventeenth-century copy after the lost original. Barnes notes that Rubens scholar Ludwig Burchard had (mistakenly) described the present work as a nineteenth-century copy.
Following his return to Antwerp in July 1627 from a productive six years in Italy, the celebrated Flemish portraitist Anthony Van Dyck was besieged with requests for sittings. Over the next five years of his so-called Second Antwerp Period, he painted scores of likenesses of aristocratic sitters, transporting north some of the mannerisms he had developed in Italy painting the Genoese aristocracy, particularly in his presentations of women dripping with jewelry, swaddled in gorgeous fabrics, and looking at the viewer with a half-defiant three-quarter turn of the head. Two of the sitters he painted at this time in companion portraits were Anna Maria de Camudio, the subject of the present likeness of 1630, and her husband Ferdinand de Boisschot, with whom Van Dyck was already personally acquainted. Van Dyck's original portrait of Ferdinand de Boisschot is considered by scholars to be a lost work, and known through a copy measuring 113 x 94 cm. on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from the Earl of Warwick (illustrated in Susan J. Barnes et al, Van Dyck: A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, New Haven and London, 2004, cat. no. III.A15, p. 406).
Born to a Basque family, Anna Maria de Camudio (died 1663) was the daughter of Pedro Vásquez de Camudio and María de los Ríos y Alar?on. She came to Brussels as a lady-in-waiting to Archduchess Isabella, and married Ferdinand de Boisschot, Count of Erps who also was connected to the court of Albert and Isabella. He served as the couple's envoy in London and Paris between 1611 and 1623, as a privy counselor, and as a chancellor to the council of Brabant from 1626, in addition to other posts. In addition, on two occasions, Ferdinand de Boisschot seems to have been the patron responsible for commissioning Van Dyck to produce religious works: one was the St. Martin for the church at Zavenham (where he was Baron from 1621 onwards), and the other was a Family of the Virgin Mary (now lost), for the same church, sometime following Van Dyck's return from Italy.
Descriptions of portraits from Van Dyck's Second Antwerp Period, which were recorded in contemporary sources, create a vivid picture of the painter's astonishing level of productivity. Part of his success, as numerous scholars have noted, stemmed from his own steely discipline, the speed by which he was capable of capturing a likeness and bringing it up to full finish, and the brilliant manner by which he organized his workshop, staffing it with talented assistants who prepared the canvases and executed the subordinate passages in his pictures. Van Dyck's organizational model was that of Rubens's studio, where he had personally worked.
In his study of the firsthand accounts of Van Dyck's working methods in London, Horst Vey noted that although they slightly post-date those in Van Dyck's Antwerp period, the modus operandi were doubtless very similar. "Starting early to make full use of the daylight," Vey noted, "Van Dyck would give the client the precise hour of appointment. He would spend an hour or so sketching out the head on the canvas; then the next sitter arrived and a helper brought a freshly prepared palette. The sitters assumed the position that had been agreed on; most probably it had been determined beforehand by Van Dyck; a quick drawing either on paper or on the canvas fixed this position. Qualified painters in Van Dyck's employ would fill in the figure and garments. These had perhaps been sent by the client to serve as models; other details and background were added. When the helpers had built up the figures and surrounding as far as they could there would be another sitting during which Van Dyck finished the head and hands; then he would go over the entire surface of the portrait and impart to it the qualities that were his alone. There must have been a coming and going of clients and, in the workshop, an assembly of several portraits in various stages of finish at any one time. Also to be seen were probably the repetitions ordered by the client or made in the expectation that sooner or later there would be demand for them. . . .[This] permitted the best division of labour and an efficient rationing of Van Dyck's own time." (Horst Vey, "Van Dyck in Antwerp. The Second Antwerp Period" in Susan J. Barnes et al, Van Dyck: A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, New Haven and London, 2004, p. 242).
The present portrait of Anna Maria de Camudio is not a nineteenth-century copy, nor is it a copy by another seventeenth-century hand after the slightly larger, so-called lost Van Dyckian original known only through reproduction (Barnes et al, 2004, cat. no. III.75, ill.). Rather, it is a work by the master, working as he always worked as a mature painter, with his assistants contributing underpainting and the minor passages. The quality of the face and neck of the sitter, in particular, with its slight puffiness and fully realized structure, matches the work of Van Dyck himself, particularly in its distinctive chromatic choices. The green applied just under the thickest part of the brow, the ruddy color of the crease in the eyelid that also defines the corners of the eyes and models the profile of the far cheek as it rounds into the background are classic Van Dyck devices. Additionally, the face has a comparatively denser and more opaque surface than in the surrounding garments, a quality characteristic of Van Dyck's portraits in the years immediately following his return from Italy (see his Portrait of Maria de Tassis in the collections of the Prince of Liechtenstein illustrated in Barnes et al, cat. no. III.136 and also his Portrait of Marie de Medici of 1631).
At the end of a sitting, Van Dyck would lightly go over the surface of the picture, paying especial attention to the dress and its accessories, enriching and enlivening it with fluently applied lights and strong shadows, the maniera finite as he himself described it. This quality is present in multiple passages of this commanding portrait. On the far left, with just a few marks of parallel hatching in golden impasto, Van Dyck brilliantly defined the curve in the fold of a rich brocade. A nearly identical passage appears in Van Dyck's well-known portrait of Isabella Clara Eugenia, Infanta of Spain, Galleria Sabauda, Turin (Barnes et al, cat. no. III.90).
The forcefulness of the personality in this portrait, with its superbly painted face, points to Van Dyck's authorship. To demote this painting as a copy because it does not match the dimensions of a purported lost original is to ignore its masterful qualities, which made Anthony Van Dyck the most sought-after (and the busiest) portraitist of his age.
Estimate: $300,000 - $400,000.
Condition report available upon request.
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