Dulwich Picture Gallery II


After Peter Paul Rubens DPG1

DPG1 – A Garland of Putti

1660s, canvas, 172.7 x 133.7 cm

?Purchased on Desenfans’ behalf by Bourgeois from Mr Donjeu, 1787;1 Bourgeois Bequest, 1811; Britton 1813, p. 12, no. 95 (‘Stair-Case cont.d / no. 17, Group of 9 cherubim in a circle: clouds – C[anvas] Rubens’; 6' x 4'9").

Cat. 1817, p. 4, no. 25 (‘FIRST ROOM – West side; A Group of Cupids; Rubens’); Haydon 1817, p. 372, no. 25;2 Cat. 1820, p. 4, no. 25 (A group of Cupids; Rubens); Cat. 1824, p. 4, no. 32; Cat. 1830, p. 4, no. 33; Jameson 1842, ii, p. 448, no. 33 (Rubens?);3 Denning 1858, no. 33 (a copy after Rubens);4 Denning 1859, no. 33;5 Sparkes 1876, p. 149, no. 33 (copy after P. P. Rubens); Richter & Sparkes 1880, pp. 142–3, no. 33 (under old copies after Rubens); Richter & Sparkes 1892 and 1905, p. 1, no. 1; Cook 1914, pp. 1–2, no. 1 (after Rubens); Cook 1926, pp. 1–2, no. 1; Cat. 1953, p. 35, no. 1 (School of Rubens); Murray 1980a, p. 299; Beresford 1998, p. 215; Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, pp. 208, 215; RKD, no. 294876: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/294876 (Aug. 7, 2019).

1a) Peter Paul Rubens, The Exchange of the Princesses at the Spanish Border (part of the Medici cycle), 1622–5, canvas, 394 x 295 cm. Louvre, Paris, 1782 [1].6
1b) Peter Paul Rubens, God the Father supported by Angels (after Pordenone), 1600–1603, black and red chalk, watercolour and bodycolour, 347 x 453 mm. Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery, London, Princes Gate Bequest, 1978, D.1978.PG.50.7
1c) (Cartoon for a tapestry) Peter Paul Rubens, Triumph of Divine Love (part of the Eucharist series), c. 1625, canvas, 386.1 x 518.2 cm. John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Fla., SN977.8
1d) Peter Paul Rubens, The Rape of Orizia by Boreas, c. 1615, panel, 146 x 140 cm. Gemäldegalerie der Akademie, Vienna, 626.9
1e–f) Peter Paul Rubens, Two fragments of an Immaculate Conception, each with an angel (one blonde and one brown-haired), early 1620s, each canvas 110 x 72 cm. On loan to the Rubenshuis, Antwerp, S. 195–6.10
2) (same direction) Alfred Alexandre Delauney, probably after no. 1a, Ronde d’anges (after Rubens), 1863, drypoint, 35.5 x 26.6 cm. Musée Municipal Frédéric Blandin, Nevers, NG 960.1.26.11
3a) Hendrik Abbé, probably after Peter Paul Rubens, The Holy Ghost in a Glory of Angels, monogrammed and dated H.A. [in monogram] F. 1677, red chalk and grey wash, 148 x 225 mm. Albertina, Vienna, 10180 [2].12
3b) Flemish 17th-century artist (Monsù Habé), Allegory of War, drawing. Present whereabouts unknown.13
4) James Stephanoff, Viewing at Dulwich Picture Gallery, c. 1830, pencil and watercolour with heightening and gum arabic, 571 x 743 mm, DPG G115 [3].14

The support of this painting is fine plain-weave linen canvas, lined onto medium coarse similar; residue of the glue used in the lining process is very thick on the reverse, and the lining is split along the bottom. This picture bears much overpaint and there are a number of old (mended) tears. Previous recorded treatment: 1911, relined, Holder; 1952–5, conserved, Dr Hell.

DPG1 was painted by a professional, but it is not close enough to the work of Rubens to attribute the picture to him, or to any of his known pupils. It is likely to be a design after or for a ceiling. There are however many similarities to the work of Rubens. There is a similar configuration of babies in The Exchange of the Princesses at the Spanish Border by Rubens, part of the Medici cycle formerly in the Palais du Luxembourg, now in the Louvre (Related works, no. 1a) [1], as was already noted by Denning in his 1858 manuscript catalogue. The question is whether the maker of DPG1 worked directly after the Rubens painting or after a print made in the same direction.15 There are two differences: the putto with arch and bow in DPG1 is a deity holding a cornucopia in the Medici painting; and in DPG1 the putti form a vertical oval, whereas in the Medici painting the oval is horizontal. Rubens used groups of cherubs (Christian) or putti (mythological) several times in different contexts, where they seem to have become a decorative festoon or garland consisting of babies.16

When Rubens was in Italy he was interested in the decorative effect of groups of small children, as appears in his drawing of c. 1600–1603 (Related works, no. 1b) after a fresco by Pordenone (1483/4–1539) of God the Father with angels, formerly in the Annunciation Chapel in the Duomo in Treviso (1520; destroyed in 1944). Hans Vlieghe saw a similarity between the putti in DPG1 and the circle of cherubs in Rubens’s cartoon for the tapestry of The Triumph of Divine Love, part of the Eucharist series, now in Sarasota (c. 1625; Related works, no. 1c).17 The putti in The Rape of Orizia by Boreas (c. 1615) are also close in style, depicted in a mythological context and not in a garland (Related works, no. 1d). Two fragments of an Immaculate Conception in the Rubenshuis in Antwerp (early 1620s) have cherubs very similar to those in DPG1 (Related works, nos 1e–f). As often with Rubens’s designs the motifs get different meanings: (allegorical) putti are made into (Christian) cherubs and vice versa. The catalogue of the Calonne sale (London 1795) – at least Buchanan’s version of it – saw a connection with Rubens’s work for the Banqueting House in London, but the babies there are very different in form and detail.

A possible maker is the Flemish artist Hendrik Abbé (1639–after 1677),18 because DPG1 bears some resemblance to a monogrammed drawing in the Albertina, Vienna, dated 1677: there a group of babies are holding hands, flying around the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove (Related works, no. 3a) [2]. That drawing was published by De Maere & Wabbes as Project for a fresco, but it could equally well be a design for a print. If Abbé is the artist, DPG1 cannot have been painted before 1660, as he was baptised in Antwerp on 28 February 1639. There are two drawings that are called Abbé, both in Vienna. No paintings by him are known, which makes it difficult to attribute DPG1 to him. He was probably not the artist Habé who was also a collector and dealer in Rubens’s drawings in Italy.19 A drawing that is annotated Habé allievo di Vandyke (Habé, pupil of Van Dyck) seems to have been made by a completely different master (Related works, no. 3b). Hendrik Abbé was too young to have been a pupil of Van Dyck (or Rubens), as he was only two years old when Van Dyck died in 1641.

In the 19th century almost all the paintings in the Dulwich Gallery were on display, including DPG1, as can be seen in a drawing by James Stephanoff (1786/8–1874), which was acquired in 2012 (Related works, no. 4) [3].

after Peter Paul Rubens
Garland of Putti, 1660-1670
canvas, oil paint 172,7 x 133,7 cm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. DPG1

Peter Paul Rubens
Exchange of the princesses between Spain and France on 9 november 1615 at Hendaye, 1622-1625
canvas, oil paint 394 x 295 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre, inv./cat.nr. 1782 ; old no. 2087 (cat. 1922)

Hendrik Abbé after Peter Paul Rubens
Holy Ghost in a Glory of Angels, 1677 dated
paper, red chalk, grey and red wash 148 x 225 mm
lower right : HA.F.16.77
Vienna, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, inv./cat.nr. 10180

James Stephanoff
Viewing at Dulwich Picture Gallery, c 1830
paper, pencil, aquarel paint (watercolor) 571 x 743 mm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. DPG G115


1 Warner 1881, p. 211, where a transcription is given of an account by Desenfans (a list of six pictures), the first of which might be DPG1 (Dulwich College Archive, MS XVI, fol. 5): Mr. Bourgeois a achetté pour moi de Mr. Donjeu les tableaux suivans que je peux lui renvoyer en aucun tems à la perte de cinq pour cent a savoir: des Anges par Rubens £50–0–0. (Mr. Bourgeois has purchased for me from Mr. Donjeu the following paintings, which I can return to him at a loss of 5 per cent, i.e.: Angels by Rubens, £50–0–0). Denning 1859 (see below, note 4) is the first to mention Donjeu[x], but since no dimensions are given the provenance of DPG1 remains uncertain. It first appears with certainty in Britton’s inventory of the Bourgeois collection made in 1813. In the GPID (28 July 2011) the provenance starts in 1811, with the Bourgeois Bequest.

2 ‘Sir Peter Paul Rubens. A group of Nine Cupids, or cherubim, in a circle.’

3 ‘Design for a ceiling. The design may be by Rubens; of his pencil there is here no trace whatever.’

4 ‘Is this from the Calonne Collection – Buchanan – Vol: I. 246? It is from a design by Rubens made for one of the Luxembourg pictures.’ Could Denning have known the prints that were made after this cycle? Buchanan 1824, i, 246, no. 54 (of the Calonne sale, London, 23–28 March 1795, Lugt 5289): ‘Rubens. – A noble Study of Children, for the ceiling at Whitehall. The masterly hand of Rubens is predominant in every part. – very capital 220 [guineas].’

5 ‘This picture was purchased by Sir F. Bourgeois for M. Desenfans of a M: Donjeu in 1787. The price paid was £50.’

6 RKD, no. 217952: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/217952 (Aug. 2, 2019); Jaffé 1989, p. 277, no. 741.

7 http://www.artandarchitecture.org.uk/images/gallery/3137182e.html (July 29, 2019). Strangely enough, the Courtauld Gallery calls this drawing ‘After Peter Paul Rubens’, while all Rubens scholars agree on it being by the master himself: Wood 2010b, ii/1, pp. 26, 327, no. 143, ii/2, figs 159–60; see also Logan & Plomp 2004c, pp. 6–7, fig. 4; Logan & Plomp 2004a, pp. 26–7, fig. 5.

8 https://emuseum.ringling.org/emuseum/objects/19722/the-triumph-of-divine-love (July 29, 2019); for this part of the Eucharist series (Jaffé 1989, pp. 292–3, no. 842), De Poorter 1978, ii, pp. 351–4, no. 13d, figs 181–2. According to De Poorter the dimensions are 389 x 482 cm (cut down at the top and bottom, originally c. 480 x 480 cm).

9 Kräftner, Seipel & Trnek 2005, pp. 105–9, no. 22 (Trnek); Trnek 1989, p. 207; Jaffé 1989, p. 204, no. 298.

10 Not in Jaffé 1989; see Huvenne 1993b, pp. 76–7 (figs 22–3), 214–19, nos 123–4.

11 Joconde (28 Aug. 2012).

12 RKD, no. 295341: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/295341 (Aug. 28, 2020); see also http://sammlungenonline.albertina.at/?query=Inventarnummer=[10180]&showtype=record (July 29, 2019); De Maere & Wabbes 1994, i, p. 25, ii, p. 9. For the other drawing with the Three Graces in the same collection, signed ‘H . ABBE . F.’, see http://sammlungenonline.albertina.at/?query=Inventarnummer=[10181]&showtype=record (July 29, 2019).

13 Wood 2010a, p, 75, text ill. 10.

14 RKD, no. 295339: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/295339 (Aug. 28, 2020); see also https://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk/explore-the-collection/651-700/viewing-at-dulwich-picture-gallery/ (July 29, 2019); purchased for the gallery at Christie’s South Kensington, 3 Sept. 2012, lot 48.

15 The two prints that were made after this picture, both times as part of a complete series of 24 scenes, show the image in reverse. Voorhelm Schneevoogt 1873, p. 220, no. 19/17 (Benoist Audran, 18th century), and p. 221, no. 20/17 (Gariel, 19th century).

16 Rubens even added babies to the content of cornucopias: McGrath 1977.

17 Letter from H. Vlieghe to R. Beresford, 23 Sept. 1997 (DPG1 file).

18 Flemish painter, sculptor, engraver, and designer of religious objects, born in Antwerp. In 1670 he published engravings, and in 1671 he is mentioned as designer of a candelabrum for the Cathedral of SS. Michel-et-Gudule in Brussels. It is likely that he is the Abbé who became a member of the Brussels Guild on 13 July 1676. He was active as a graphic artist in 1677, when he illustrated Ovid’s Metamorphoses. In the same year he made the drawing on which the attribution to him of DPG1 is based. It is not clear where and when he died. See Duverger 1992; De Maere & Wabbes 1994, i, p. 25, ii, p. 9.

19 Wood 2010a, i, pp. 75–6, note 161 (where the suggestions are Enrico Abé, who was in Rome in 1663, or ‘Claudio Abet fiamengo’ in 1669), 287 (note 27); earlier Wood 1990, pp. 7–8, 45 (notes 24, 29–32), proposed that Habé was Maximiliaen Labbé, a Flemish sculptor.

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