Enfilade

Rijksmuseum Acquires Portrait by Joseph-François Ducq

Posted in museums by Editor on March 31, 2019

Press release (25 March 2019) from the Rijksmuseum:

Joseph-François Ducq, Portrait of the Engraver Joseph-Charles de Meulemeester at Work in the Raphael Loggia in the Vatican, 1813 (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum).

Last week the Rijksmuseum was able to acquire several remarkable works of art at TEFAF Maastricht, thanks to the generosity of private donors. The objects include two 16th-century panels by Maarten van Heemskerck, a book published in 1627 on locks and keys made by the French locksmith Mathurin Jousse, and an 1813 painting by Joseph-François Ducq of the engraver Joseph-Charles de Meulemeester. . . .

Through the support of the Gerhards Fund/Rijksmuseum Fund, Rijksmuseum has acquired a painting by Joseph-François Ducq (1762–1829), an artist from the Southern Netherlands (Flanders). Portrait of the Engraver Joseph-Charles de Meulemeester at Work in the Raphael Loggia in the Vatican was made in Rome in 1813. Ducq portrayed his fellow artist full-length, resting one foot on the stretcher of a chair. On the seat are his palette, a box of watercolours, a glass of water and a brush. De Meulemeester (1771–1836) had set himself the aim of reproducing Raphael’s entire oeuvre, and he can be seen here working on a drawing of a section of the ceiling above him—the Rijksmuseum collection contains a print by De Meulemeester of Rapheal’s The Ecstasy of St. Cecilia. Further along the arcade we can see one artist standing with a drawing folder under his arm and another on a tall scaffold, making a drawing of the ceiling. At the far end, a Swiss Guardsman can be seen guarding the large door.

De Meulemeester and Ducq belonged to a group of artists from the Southern Netherlands whom the government had sent to Rome to complete their education and to study the Italian masterpieces. This fine depiction of the activities of an artist in Italy is also a historical document, because on the shadowed pillar on the left we can see, written in red and brown paint, the names of all the artists who had come from the Southern Netherlands to Rome, with their year of arrival.

The Rijksmuseum collection contains works sent back by artists from the Northern Netherlands who went to Rome in about the same period. There were many contacts between these artists and their counterparts in the Southern Netherlands. However, except for a single painting by Frans Vervloet, these compatriots are not represented in our collection. This portrait of De Meulemeester serves as the desired link between North and South. This painting will be an attractive and valuable addition to the Waterloo Gallery, which is partly dedicated to Dutch artists in Italy.

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