Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, Siegen 1577–1640 Antwerp)
Black, red, and white chalk, blue pastel, and pen and brown and black ink on light brown laid paper
17 9/16 x 9 3/4 in. (44.6 x 24.8 cm)
Purchase, Carl Selden Trust, several members of The Chairman's Council, Gail and Parker Gilbert, and Lila Acheson Wallace Gifts, 1999
Not on view
This magnificent costume study is also an affecting portrait of Nicolas Trigault, a Flemish Jesuit missionary to China. Rubens, who had close ties to the Jesuit college of Antwerp, made the drawing when Trigault visited the city to raise funds and recruit new missionaries. The costume combines a Korean cap and the robe of a Chinese scholar, conveying the Jesuits’ desire to assimilate into Chinese culture while at the same time acknowledging and keeping a certain distance from it. Rubens beautifully captured the cut, texture, and weight of the robe but also elaborated on its colors in the Latin inscription.
Inscription: At upper right, inscribed "nota quod color pullus non est / peculiaris Sinensium litteratis sed / Patribus S Iesù exceptis tamen fascijs / ceruleis quae ["omnibus" deleted] ceteris [que] communes sunt / Sinenses porro vestis colore non uno / sed quovis promiscue utantur. / Si unum reserves flavum scilicet / qui proprius est Regis", and, at lower left, inscribed "Tricau[tius?] Soc. Jesu [?] / delineatum/ die 17 Januaris" in pen and brown ink, by Rubens ["Note that the dark colour is not peculiar to Chinese scholars but to the Fathers of the Society of Jesus, except for the blue facings which are common to all. The Chinese, furthermore, do not use one colour only in their clothing, but any colour they like except yellow, which is reserved for the King", and "Trigualt S.J., drawn on the 17th of January"]; at lower right, inscribed "A Van Dyck feci" in pen and ink. On the secondary support, at lower right, inscribed "A van Dyck feci" in pen and ink; at lower center, inscribed "The Siamese Ambassador, an Armenian, sketched from the life by Van Dyck" in pen and ink; at lower left "The Siamese Ambassador, an Armenian [...] by Van Dyck when he was sent to England" in graphite. Verso of the secondary support: at top center, inscribed "Lady Sidmouth-/Presented to Eliza Hobhouse 1842." in pen and ink
Marianne Scott (London)d.1842; Eliza Hobhouse (London); Henry Hobhouse (London); Sir Arthur Hobhouse (British, died 1967); Robert Smith; sale, Christie's, New York, January 28, 1999, lot 92; Vendor: Katrin Bellinger Kunsthandel, Munich
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