Petrus Josephus WITDOECK (1803-1873).
La rencontre de Rubens et de Collantes (Meeting of Rubens and Collantes).
Oil on panel, signed lower right and dated 1841.
Height: 105 cm (41-1/4 in.) - Width: 81.5 cm (32 in.).
Frame: 116 x 93 cm (45-1/2 x 36-1/2 in.).
Moldy varnish with impacted dirt. Numerous age crackings. Older restorations.
This scene takes place at Villa Viciosa where Rubens and Collantes met. Rubens and his friends were attending mass in the monastery’s church while examining the paintings. While moving to a side chapel, Rubens was strongly attracted to one masterpiece. Seeking in vain the name of the painter Rubens asked a priest who painted the beautiful picture: “By grace, Father, if you know the name of the artist, have him teach me, for he is worthy to be listed among the best of this century. This work is a masterpiece, you must believe Rubens”.
During their discussion, Rubens repeated his question several times, the priest evaded him every time and replied “The painter of this work is no longer of this world. At least, he died with the earthly material, he is a monk”.
This modest priest Collantes was actually the painter. He died a year after Ruben’s visit to the convent.
This particular story is reported in André van Hasselt’s work, Histoire de la vie et des œuvres de Pierre-Paul Rubens (History of the Life and Works of Peter Paul Rubens), Brussels, Printing Society of Fine Arts, 1840.
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