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Painting Title Albert de Ligne, Prince of Brabançon and Arenberg
Alternative Title A Knight of the Golden Fleece, A Whole Length by Vandyke; Sir P. P. Rubens by Van Dyck
Collection York Art Gallery
Artist Dyck, Anthony van (Flemish painter, 1599-1641, active in England)
Date Earliest 1628
Date Latest 1632
Signed yes
Description Albert de Ligne, prince of Brabançon and Arenberg (1600-1674), is depicted standing, full-length, dressed in black, with a column in the background. The large key that the the sitter wears tucked into his belt was the ensign of the office of the Chamberlain. He was commander in chief of the Spanish forces in Bohemia, Westphalia and the Netherlands. The Order of the Golden Fleece which he is wearing is an order of chivalry founded in Bruges by Philip III, Duke of Burgundy in 1430. After the absorption of the Burgundian lands into the Habsburg empire, the Order passed to the kings of Spain, where it remained until the death of the last of the Spanish Habsburgs, Charles II, in 1700. Albert de Ligne received the order on 18th June 1628, and this portrait may have been commissioned to commemorate that honour. It was surely painted in Antwerp before 1632, when van Dyck went to England. In the early 1630s Albert de Ligne took part in a plot against Spanish rule and was later imprisoned in Antwerp until 1642.
Current Accession Number YORAG : 1345
Inscription front lr (on the base of pillar) 'Ant Van Dyck. Eques. Pt'
Subject portrait (Albert de Ligne, prince of Brabançon and Arenberg); interior
Measurements 214.5 x 127 cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details allocated by HM Government 1979.
Provenance By descent to Philippe Karl Franz von Arenberg (1663-1691), grandson of Philippe Karl, III comte d'Arenberg (the sitter's cousin); sold by his wife Maria-Henriette von Alcaretto Marquise von Grana y Savona (1671-1744) probably after 1691; purchased by Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland (1641-1702); by descent in Spencer family; acquired by HM Government from Earl Spencer in lieu of capital transfer tax.
Principal Exhibitions Art Treasures, Manchester 1857, no. 591, as ‘Sir P. P. Rubens by Van Dyck'; Van Dyck, Grosvenor Gallery, London 1887, no. 124 as ‘A Portrait with the Chamberlain's Key'; Van Eyck Tercentenary Exhibition, Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp, 1899, no. 38; Flemish and Belgian Art, Royal Academy, London 1927, no. 161; Exposition Internationale, Section d'Art Flamand Ancien, Antwerp 1930, no. 109; Van Dyck, Agnew's, London 1968, no. 35; Anthony Van Dyck, Sogo Museum of Art , Yokohama (touring), 1990, no. 18.
Publications Dibdin, T. F., Aedes Althorpianae, 1822, p. 246; Smith, J., A Catalogue Raisonne of the Works of the most eminent Dutch, Flremish and French Painters, Vol. III, 1831, no. 500; Cust, L., Anthony Van Dyck. An historical Study of his Life and Works, London, 1900, no. 3, p. 252; Schaeffer, E., Van Dyck. Des Meisters Gemälde, Klassiker der Kunst, Stuttgart-Leipzig, 1909, pp. 239, 468; Glück, G., Van Dyck. Des Meisters Gemälde, Klassiker der Kunst, Stuttgart-Berlin 1931, no. 320; Garlick, K., 'A Catalogue of the Pictures at Althorp', Walpole Society, XLV, 1976, no. 145; Larsen, E., L'opera completadi Anton van Dyck, Milan, 1980, no. 619; Sidey, T., ‘Van Dyck's Portrait of Albert de Ligne, prince of Brabançon and Arenberg', PREVIEW. City of York Art Gallery Quarterly, 124, October 1981, vol. XXXIII, pp. 3-10; Larsen, E., The Paintings of Anthony van Dyck, Freren, 1988, no. 267; Brown, C., Haverkamp-Begemann, E., et al., Anthony Van Dyck, 1990, cat. 18, p. 147, ill. 18; Brown, C., The Drawings of Anthony Van Dyck, New York, 1991, p. 188; Barnes, S.J., De Poorter, N., et.al., Van Dyck. A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, New Haven and London, 2004, no. III.A13, p. 405; Oil Paintings in Public Ownership. North Yorkshire, London, 2006, p. 265.

The painting was listed in Althorp estate collection in 1746 as 'A Knight of the Golden Fleece, a whole length by Vandyke' (no. 86), and in 1780 as 'Sir P. P. Rubens by Van Dyck'. It retains its original ‘Sunderland' frame, decorated with mask, flower and acanthus, made either in Spain or in Italy for Robert Spencer (1641-1702). The identity of the sitter was confirmed by an inscribed engraving by Scheltius Bolswert (1586-1659), included in the series of engravings after Van Dyck's portraits (Mauquoy-Hendrickx, M., L'iconographie d'Antoine van Dyck, Brussels, 1956, no. 19). Other portraits of Albert de Ligne by Van Dyck are the painting in the collection of Holkham Hall (Norfolk) and the drawings in the British Museum in London and in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The other painting by Van Dyck that passed from Earl Spencer to HM Government in lieu of capital transfer tax in 1978 was a portrait of Rachel de Ruvigny, Countess of Southampton, depicted as Fortune (about 1638, allocated to The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge).

In the catalogue entry in Van Dyck. A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings (New Haven-London, 2004, no. III.A13, p. 405) Horst Vey wrote that 'In view of the artistic shortcomings visible in the face, in the hands and elsewhere, I cannot follow the received opinion that this is an original work'. He suggested that it may be a copy after a painting mentioned in Diego Duarte's inventory in 1682 (Dogaer, G., 'De inventaris der schilderijen van Diego Duarte', Jaarboek van het Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Altwerpen, 1971, no. 70, p. 209).

Rights Owner York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)
Author Dr Magdalena Łanuszka



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