Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Copy after "Rubens, His Wife Helena Fourment (1614–1673), and Their Son Frans (1633–1678)"

Artist:
Bernard Lens (British, 1682–1740)
Medium:
Vellum
Dimensions:
15 1/2 x 11 7/8 in. (394 x 302 mm)
Classification:
Miniatures
Credit Line:
Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman Gift, 1984
Accession Number:
1984.442
Not on view
The Artist: Bernard Lens is known as Bernard Lens III to distinguish him from his grandfather, who is thought to have been an enamel painter, and his father, who was a mezzotint engraver and drawing master. He was born in London. Following the example of Rosalba Carriera, he led the movement in England for using ivory rather than vellum as the support for miniatures. The most prominent native-born miniaturist of the early eighteenth century in England, Lens made many miniature copies of old master paintings as well as miniature portraits ad vivum. From 1723 he served as miniature painter to George I (1660–1727) and George II (1683–1760) and was a fashionable drawing master who numbered Horace Walpole (1717–1797) among his pupils.

The Miniature: Rubens’s celebrated self-portrait with his second wife and their young child (The Met, 1981.238), which was painted about 1639, was reportedly given by the city of Brussels to John Churchill (1650–1722), first duke of Marlborough, after his victory at Blenheim in 1704. It hung at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, until 1884. The copy by Lens was painted in 1721, the year before the first duke's death. In contrast with Rubens's original, Lens centered the figure group, opening up the landscape toward the left and introducing slightly more space at the top and bottom. Certain passages in the painting which have darkened over the course of time—the folds of Helena Fourment's black skirt, for example—may be read more clearly in the miniature.

[2016; adapted from Reynolds and Baetjer 1996]
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left, in gold): Bernard Lens Fecit 1721.
[Morton Morris & Co., London, until 1984; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "European Miniatures in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," November 5, 1996–January 5, 1997, no. 116.

THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT, BY TERMS OF ITS ACQUISITION BY THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.

Graham Reynolds with the assistance of Katharine Baetjer. European Miniatures in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1996, pp. 11, 13, 126, no. 116, colorpl. 116 and ill. p. 126.



Related Objects

Rubens, His Wife Helena Fourment (1614–1673), and Their Son Frans (1633–1678)

Artist: Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, Siegen 1577–1640 Antwerp) Date: ca. 1635 Medium: Oil on wood Accession: 1981.238 On view in:Gallery 628

Captain George K. H. Coussmaker (1759–1801)

Artist: Sir Joshua Reynolds (British, Plympton 1723–1792 London) Date: 1782 Medium: Oil on canvas Accession: 20.155.3 On view in:Gallery 629

Elizabeth Farren (born about 1759, died 1829), Later Countess of Derby

Artist: Sir Thomas Lawrence (British, Bristol 1769–1830 London) Date: 1790 Medium: Oil on canvas Accession: 50.135.5 On view in:Gallery 629

Mrs. Grace Dalrymple Elliott (1754?–1823)

Artist: Thomas Gainsborough (British, Sudbury 1727–1788 London) Date: 1778 Medium: Oil on canvas Accession: 20.155.1 On view in:Gallery 629

The Honorable Henry Fane (1739–1802) with Inigo Jones and Charles Blair

Artist: Sir Joshua Reynolds (British, Plympton 1723–1792 London) Date: 1761–66 Medium: Oil on canvas Accession: 87.16 On view in:Gallery 629