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.
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Title:Portrait of Nicolas Trigault in Chinese Costume
Artist:Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, Siegen 1577–1640 Antwerp)
Medium:Black, red, and white chalk, blue pastel, and pen and brown and black ink on light brown laid paper
Dimensions:17 9/16 x 9 3/4 in. (44.6 x 24.8 cm)
Credit Line:Purchase, Carl Selden Trust, several members of The Chairman's Council, Gail and Parker Gilbert, and Lila Acheson Wallace Gifts, 1999
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 (British)d.1842; Eliza Hobhouse (British); Henry Hobhouse (British); Sir Arthur Hobhouse (British); Robert Smith; sale, Christie's, New York, January 28, 1999, lot 92; Vendor: Katrin Bellinger Kunsthandel , Munich
Royal Academy of Arts. "Exhibition of Works by Van Dyck," 1900.
Royal Academy of Arts. "Exhibition of 17th century Art in Europe," January 3, 1938–March 12, 1938.
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen. "P.P. Rubens Paintings - oil sketches - Drawings," June 29, 1977 - September 30, 1977.
Davis Museum and Cultural Center. "Flemish Drawings in the Age of Rubens: Selected works from American collections," October 15, 1993 - February 20, 1994.
Cleveland Museum of Art. "Flemish Drawings in the Age of Rubens: Selected works from American collections," October 15, 1993 - February 20, 1994.
Wellesley College Art Museum, Wellesley, Massachusetts. "Flemish Drawings in the Age of Rubens: Selected works from American collections," October 15, 1993 - February 20, 1994.
Vienna. Graphische Sammlung Albertina. "Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640): The Drawings," September 15–December 5, 2004.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640): The Drawings," January 14–April 3, 2005.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions," October 24, 2008–February 1, 2009.
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. "Looking East: Rubens's Encounter with Asia," March 5, 2013–June 9, 2013.
Musée du Louvre-Lens. "Rubens and Europe," May 22, 2013–September 23, 2013.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500–1800," September 9, 2013–January 5, 2014.
New York. Frick Collection. "Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture," March 2–June 5, 2016.
Exhibition of Works by Van Dyck.. Royal Academy of Arts, 1900, cat. no. 91.
C. Stuart Wortley "Rubens' drawings of Chinese Costumes" Old Master Drawings. 1934, fig. no. 44, pp. 40-47, ill.
Royal West of England Academy Art Treasures of the West Country Exh. cat. 1937, cat. no. 251.
Catalogue of the Exhibition of 17th century Art in Europe. Exh. cat. Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1938, cat. no. 590.
Frans Baudouin "Nota's bij de tentoonstelling Schetsen en tekeningen van P.P. Rubens." Bulletin de Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique. vol. 2, 1953, p. 57.
H. Bernard-Maître S.J. "Un portrait de Nicolas Trigault dessiné par Rubens" Archivium Historicum Societatis Jesu. vol. 22, 1953, pp. 303-13.
Ludwig Burchard, Roger-A. d'Hulst Catologus, Tekeningen van Peter Paul Rubens, Rubenshuis. 1956, cat. no. under no. 66, p. 67.
Julius S. Held Rubens: Selected Drawings. Phaidon Press, London, 1959.
Ludwig Burchard, R.-A. d'Hulst Rubens Drawings. Brussels, 1963, cat. no. 147, pp. 230-2, ill.
J. I. Kuznetsov Risunki Rubensa. Moscow, 1974, cat. no. 100, ill.
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen P. P. Rubens Paintings-Oil Sketches-Drawings. Jun 29- Sept 30 1977, cat. no. 156, p. 156.
Anne Marie Logan, Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann "Dessins de Rubens." Revue de l'art. SLII, 1978, p. 97, ill.
Julius S. Held Rubens Selected Drawings. 2nd edition (revised). Oxford, 1986, cat. no. under no. 131, p. 120.
Per Bjurström Dürer to Delacroix: Great Master Drawings from Stockholm Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., Washington, D.C., 1986.
Hans Vlieghe Rubens Portraits of Identified Sitters in Antwerp; Corpus Rubeniaum Ludwig Burchard. vol. 2, part 19, 1987, cat. no. 154b, fig. no. 227, pp. 195-196, ill.
George R. Goldner with help from Lee Hendrix and Gloria Williams The J. Paul Getty Museum. European Drawings: Catalogue of the Collections. J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, 1988, cat. no. under no. 93, p. 212.
Felice Stampfle, Nicholas Turner Netherlandish Drawings of the 15th and 16th centuries and Flemish Drawings of the 17th and 18th centuries in the Pierpont Morgan Library. Morgan Library & Museum, New York, 1991, cat. no. under no. 310, pp. 145-148.
Anne Marie Logan Flemish Drawings in the Age of Rubens, Selected Works from American Collections. 1993, cat. no. 48, fig. no. 48, p. 192, ill.
François Borne Portrait of a Jesuit Missionary. Christie's Magazine. Christie's, New York, Jan-Feb 1999, pp. 40-41, ill.
Alan Wintermute, The Frick Collection, National Gallery of Canada Watteau and His World: French Drawings from 1700-1750. Exh. cat. 1999-2000, fig. no. 15, pp. 26-27, ill.
Carmen C. Bambach, Colta Ives, Nadine Orenstein, Michiel C. Plomp, Perrin Stein "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1999-2000." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 58, no. 20, Fall 2000, p. 30, ill.
Anne Marie Logan, Michiel C. Plomp, Dr. Klaus Albrecht Schröder, Heinz Widauer Peter Paul Rubens. Exh. cat., Albertina, Vienna, Sept. 15 - Dec. 5, 2004 (also see New York, 2005). Dr. Klaus Albrecht Schröder, Heinz Widauer, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna, 2004, pp. 18, 99, 105, 106, 112, cat. no. 74, pp. 330-337, ill.
Anne Marie Logan, Michiel C. Plomp Peter Paul Rubens: The Drawings. Exh. cat.: January 15 - April 3, 2005; also Albertina, Vienna, 2004. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2005, pp. 51, 56, 272, cat. no. 73, pp. 219-225, ill.
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