Lost Drawing by Rubens Returns Home After Four Centuries
The Flemish Government has purchased a drawing by Flemish Master Peter Paul Rubens that was thought to be lost. The work will be included in the Top pieces List.
The baroque artist Peter Paul Rubens made the drawing for the renowned Moretus family of book editors early in the 17th century. It was used as a printed illustration in the book 'Opticorum libri sex' by the mathematician and physicist Franciscus Aguilonius.
But the drawing vanished later. It was thought that it no longer existed, but all this time it was part of a private collection. The drawing belonged to the 18th-century collection of the Marquis of Lagoy, Jean-Baptiste-Florentin-Gabriel de Meryan (1764-1829). Afterwards it remained in the hands of the family, so the design was completely unknown until recently. Scientists suspected it was lost.
© Frederik Beyens
After four centuries, this design is now returning home. The Flemish Community purchased the original work for 307,400 euros. It will be recognised as a Flemish top piece and will be on display in the Antwerp Plantin-Moretus Museum.
The drawing shows a kneeling scientist carrying an armillary sphere lit by a putto angel carrying a torch. It can be admired in the museum until the end of October and it will also shine in the exhibition The most beautiful drawings from the time of Bruegel and Rubens in the autumn of 2023.