Monday, 1 October 2012

Is Henrietta Maria a 'Sleeper'?

Philip Mould's painting supposedly 'After Van Dyck'
For anyone interested in the works of Sir Anthony Van Dyck, chief royal painter of the court of Charles I, there was a fascinating programme about him last night on the BBC One about Philp Mould and Bendor Grosvenor, two art dealers who were convinced a painting of Queen Henrietta Maria bought at Christie's auction in January for £7,000 and described as 'after Van Dyck', had an original Van Dyck painting underneath.

Why would anyone over paint a Van Dyck? - well their theory was she was originally painted holding the infamous 'catherine wheel' , a medieval instrument of torture used for punishment of crimes throughout Europe, and also adopted by the Holy Office to punish heretics, which is meant to indicate Henrietta Maria's strong Catholicism. In the early 1700's this was a particularly unpopular stance, so whoever owned the painting had her gown and the 'wheel' painted over. After analysis, the paint of her blue gown was found to contain 'Prussion Blue' which was only used after 1704.

Twenty five thousand pounds and six months at the restorer's later, which also involved reducing the painting to its original size, the Van Dyck expert seems to think that the face at least may certainly have been painted by Van Dyck himself, and the rich red and brown gown beneath the insipid blue and yellow one was probably the work of his studio.
When restored, the painting looked more like this one
The final conclusion has yet to be reached, but I for one am watching closely to see what the experts decide. I would love to see Mr Mould proved right as he is deeply emotionally involved with this painting and Fiona Bruce's casual scepticism visibly affected him - I trust his instincts and the painting is beautiful.

Footnote: At the end of the programme Mr Mould has had the paitining hung in the Banqueting House, and watching him carry it through the London streets wrapped in brown paper and tucked under his arms was amazing!

1 comment:

Petrea Burchard said...

I'd like to see the restored painting hanging in the Banqueting House, a regal setting for any work of art.

I had to look up "catherine wheel." It's amazing what we can invent with which to hurt each other.

Review of The Murderess by Jennifer Wells

PUBLISHER’S BLURB The Murderess is a heart-stopping story of family, love, passion and betrayal set against the backdrop of war-r...