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Title Cavalcade of the Princes of Nassau
Collection Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum
Artist Attributed to after Venne, Adriaen van de (Dutch painter and draftsman, 1589-1662)
Previously attributed to Vinckboons, David (Flemish painter, 1576-ca. 1632)
Date Earliest possibly 1621
Date Latest possibly 1700
Description The painting shows a cluster of eight noblemen on horseback in a landscape, with several figures on foot on either side and in the background. In the left foreground, the then Dutch Stadholder Prince Maurits of Orange (1577-1625), son of William the Silent, is shown on a dapple-grey horse. In the centre is his half-brother and successor, Prince Frederik Hendrik (1584-1647), and to his right Frederick V, Elector Palatine (1596-1632), who had married James I's daughter Elizabeth Stuart. In addition, the heads of Prince Filips Willem, Willem Lodewijk, Johan Ernest and Johan Lodewijk of Nassau can be recognised behind the three central figures.
Current Accession Number LEAMG:A376.1953
Inscription front lr '[...]'
Subject portrait (Prince Maurits of Orange; Prince Frederik Hendrik; Frederik V, Elector Palatine; Prince Filips Willem; Willem Lodewijk; Johan Ernest; Johan Lodewijk of Nassau); figure; animal (horse); landscape
Measurements 31.3 x 43.8 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by Captain Mark Field 1953.
Provenance Purchased from the Strasser Collection by Captain Mark Field;
Principal Exhibitions Images of a Golden Age, Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery, 1990.
Publications Wright, C., Dutch Painting of the Seventeenth Century: Images of a Golden Age in British Collections, Birmingham, 1989; Laurens, J. B., Adriaen Pietersz van de Venne; Painter and Draughtsman, Doornspijk, 1989; Royalton Kisch, M., Adriaen van de Venne's Album in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, London, 1988.

Adriaen Pietersz van de Venne was born in Delft in 1589. He was partly self-taught, but also trained in painting and illumination by a Leiden goldsmith and painter. He followed his father and elder brother Jan (a publisher and art dealer) to Middelburg in Zeeland, where he is recorded between 1614 and 1624 working as a painter, book illustrator, print designer, political propagandist and poet. He married in 1614 and had two sons, Pieter and Huybrecht, who both became painters. From 1618, Van de Venne designed several large-scale and mostly propagandist prints that were engraved by Willem Jacobsz Delff, including Cavalcade of the Princes of Nassau (1621). He moved to The Hague in 1625, where he painted an album of miniatures (now in the British Museum) that was probably commissioned by the Winter King (Frederick V, Elector Palatine) as a personal gift to the new Stadholder Frederik Hendrik. He co-founded Pictura, the artists' confraternity in The Hague, in 1656. Adriaen van de Venne died in debt in The Hague on 12 November 1662.

This painting is based on Adriaen van de Venne's 1621 painting of The Cavalcade of the Princes of Nassau on copper that is now in the Hessisches Landesmuseum in Darmstadt, Germany. In Mark Field's notebook, the painting was attributed to David Vinckboons: §The finch in the tree is said to be the signature, a pun on Fincke§. E. K. Waterhouse described it as follows in August 1953: §This is probably an (early) copy of a painting by Adriaen Van der Venne (1589-1662), Prince Maurice of Nassau, the king of Bohemia, […] on horseback.§ The original was engraved by Willem Jacobszoon Delff, and this copy may well have been made from the engraving. A monogram may be discerned low down on the right-hand corner. It may be the source of the attribution to Vinckeboons, but it seems more likely to be a copy of Delff's monogram.

Adriaen van de Venne was a strong supporter of the House of Orange, the Protestant cause against Spain, and of the Winter King and Queen, as shown by many of his works. His original painting of the Cavalcade was engraved by Willem Jacobsz Delff (1580-1638), the most important Dutch engraver in the first half of the seventeenth century; it was published by Van de Venne's elder brother Jan. The engraving is said to name all the princes in a caption below the image, and impressions were bought by the States General and the municipality of Middelburg. Yet the print has some important differences from Van de Venne's original painting in Darmstadt and from the copy in Leamington Spa, especially in the number of riders and the poses of the figures in the background. It is therefore more likely that this copy was based directly on the painting in Darmstadt or a copy of that, which it resembles fairly closely, rather than on Delff's print as Waterhouse suggested. The subject would have remained popular for its nationalistic and propagandistic tenor. Because of this, it is difficult to establish without expert technical study whether this is a contemporary, later seventeenth-century copy, or one produced much later; a great number of variant copies of the painting are known.

Rights Owner Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum (Warwick District Council)
Author Sophie Oosterwijk



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