Description: Verso on the canvas inscribed: "des Villes et Chateaux de Namur les 19 et 30 Septembre 1746"
This painting was part of the war booty taken from the Chateau de Namur by French soldiers under the command of Marshal de Saxe during the battle of Rocourt on September 30, 1746. A fragment of paper on the reverse of the canvas suggests it was also recently in a private Belgian collection. At first the subject seems mysterious, painted in the colours of later Northern mannerism, depicting a noble young man applying himself to various bodily and mental activities under the supervision of his teachers in an Italianate fantasy interior. A globe, several geometric implements and the scales refer to his humanistic education, while the exercise related to riding reflects his courtly duties. The young man's identity remains vague, his relationship to the house of Medici-Habsburg is evident through the double coat of arms clearly visible in the painting's centre, under the two columns next to the guards. It is known that the Medici and Habsburgs became related at the end of the 16th century. Lisa Goldenberg Stoppato argues that the present composition is a depiction of Prince Ferdinando II (1610-1670), son of Cosimo II de Medici and Maria Magdalena of Habsburg. The painting would therefore be an allegory of the education of the future Medici prince. She attributes the work to the Flemish painter Jeremias van Winghe. A drawing in the Albertina and the related painting in the Kurpfalz Museum Heidelberg, both allegories of the reign of Emperor Rudolf II, support this theory. Stylistically, the present painting is closely related to the Heidelberg composition: similar magical colours of pink, azure and shades of green evolve into figural forms. The composition is cut along the diagonal by the dominating stairway. The present painting, of clearly larger dimensions, features more open space and offers the viewer a sight into a fantastic interior.
Although Winghe's presence at the Medici court is not documented, judging by the Florentine style of architecture, the painting would have been undertaken in relation to a trip to Italy according to Joachim von Sandrart and other authors. Father and son certainly had close relations to the court of Rudolf II of Habsburg and a commission would be entirely believable. His sojourn in Italy could have taken place between 1604 and 1616. The allegory could have been commissioned in honour of the prince born in 1610, or as a painting of ideal imagination; the theoretical education of the future prince.
Dimensions: 157.5 x 112.5 cm
Artist or Maker: JEREMIAS VAN WINGHE
Medium: oil on canvas
Exhibited: ALLEGORY OF THE PRINCLY EDUCATION
Provenance: Private collection, Belgium.
Request more information
VAT: Margin Scheme