A lost piece of Flemish history
20. [Flemish school]
Drawing, brown ink, 20,0 x 15,5 cm, laid paper, unsigned (flattened horizontal fold at centre).
Mounted on blue and white paper with an elaborate ms. note in pen. Framed (not studied outside frame).
The ms. note on the mount makes clear the drawing depicts the golden lion of 35 pounds that was produced by an Antwerp artist. The ornamental piece was a gift from the board of the Ostend Company (officially the General Company Established in the Austrian Netherlands for Commerce and Navigation in the Indies) to Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI (1685-1740) and was transported to Vienna by two men (Prolij and Van Cessel) on 6 September 1724. The sculpture consists of a crowned lion with the coat of arms of the Ostend Company and several allegorical figures such as Neptune below. Our drawing most closely resembles a drawing in Antwerp (St Charles Borromeo's Church; RKD Images 111790), but other designs for the golden lion are also in Antwerp (Museum Plantin-Moretus, inv. CVH.0097 and PK.OT.01084). Throughout the centuries the ornamental piece was melted down to recover the gold.
Ref. L. De Ren in F. Baudouin (ed.), Tekeningen uit de 17de en 18de eeuw. De verzameling Van Herck, Brussels 2000, pp. 231-233, 313. - W. Nys, Zilver uit Antwerpen, exh. cat. Sterckshof, Antwerp 2006, pp. 181-182.
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