A year ago, in January 2019, an oil sketch by Rubens was discovered by Hoogsteder & Hoogsteder, together with Museum Boijmans van Beuningen.
After the discovery of the painting, technical investigation was conducted by the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK IRPA) in Brussels.
The results of this extensive technical research, were presented earlier this week at the Fundación Carlos de Amberes in presence of H.E. Jan Versteeg, Ambassador of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, as well as H.E. Marc Calcoen, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium, in Madrid.
Bringing the painting home
Almost 400 years ago Rubens painted this oil sketch as a design for a tapestry series, commissioned by Archduchess Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain, Governor of the Netherlands (1566-1633) . She had the famous tapestry series The Triumph of the Eucharist made for `her` Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales in Madrid, where it is still on show.
Apart from Archduchess Isabella herself in cloistral habit, the sketch shows Emperor Ferdinand II (1578-1637) and his nephew King Philip IV with consort Queen Elizabeth de Bourbon of France (1603-1644).
Presenting our newly discovered oil sketch in Madrid, meant bringing it home after 400 years.
Results Technical Research
Drs Emilie den Tonkelaar was the one who discovered of the oil sketch and led the art historical research at Hoogsteder & Hoogsteder. She also presented the results of the technical research, conducted in 2019 by the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK IRPA) in Brussels.
Cross Section Analysis of tiny fragments of paint, revealed the same 17th century pigments as those used by Rubens.
Macro XRF Scans showed changes in composition made by the painter himself. These, and several other findings, confirmed Rubens was indeed the painter of the oil sketch.
Moreover, the technical research allowed us to see through layers of paint added in the 18th and 19th century. The expected damage of the 17th c. paint structure proved to be mainly on the borders of the sketch, fortunately.The overal conclusion of the technical research was, that restoring the sketch would be very promising.
“We already knew that the oil sketch ranks among the most important designs made by Rubens. Technical research encourages restoration. We cannot wait to see the sketch being restored to its original splendour.”