This painting was bought by George I as part of a group of six pictures from ‘Mr Laws’ (presumably John Law) in 1723 and both were hugely extended soon after their purchase.British eighteenth-century collectors often commissioned artists to add uneventful passages of ‘background’ to their Old Masters. The most obvious reason for doing this was to create pairs but there seems also to have been a general desire to increase the proportion of background relative to incident. The original canvas size of this painting is uncertain but it may have been barely larger that the surviving section, still now clearly visible to the naked eye and measuring c.265 × 190 cm. In George I’s collection this canvas was extended on all sides: two late eighteenth-century inventories give measurements of c.370 × 272 cm, some 105 cm higher and 80 cm wider than the surviving piece of original canvas. This seems to have been done to match it with Van Dyck’s equestrian portrait of Charles I (RCIN 405322, measuring 368 × 270 cm) In the eighteenth century the sitter in this portrait was believed to be the Duke of Alba (and was presumably bought as such by George I) and in the nineteenth century it was identified as the Archduke Albert. It was only in the 1990s that it was identified as Don Rodrigo Calderón (1580s – 1621) a favourite of the Duke of Lerma and, in 1612, ambassador to Antwerp - the city which appears in the background of this portrait. Text adapted from The First Georgians: Art and Monarchy 1714-1760, London, 2014.
ProvenanceProbably the painting by Rubens of Don Diego de Calderon recorded in the collection of Gaspar de Haro in 1651; purchased by George I from Mr Laws in 1723, believed to depict the Duke of Alva
Attributed to the studio of Sir Peter Paul Rubens (Siegen 1577 - Antwerp 1640) (artist)
Paul Petit (1724-57) (framemaker)
- Physical properties
A Knight of the Golden Fleece on horseback
Archduke Albert, Governor of the Netherlands, previously identified as
Archduke Ernest (? - 1595), Governor of the Netherlands, previously identified as