Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Filippo Spinola, 2nd Marquis of the Balabasses (1594-1659) 

Sir Anthony Van Dyck and Studio (1599-1641)

Portrait of Filippo Spinola, 2nd Marquis of the Balabasses (1594-1659), Sir Anthony Van Dyck and Studio
Oil and Canvas
17th Century
82 1/8 x 47½ in (208.6 x 120.6 cm)
Marchesa Maria Doria Balbi di Piovera, thence by descent (as stated when exhibited in 1955); Christie’s, London, 11 April 2013, lot 44, as ‘Circle of Sir Anthony Van Dyck, Portrait of a Gentleman’.
Probably C. G. Ratti, ‘Instruzione de quanto puo vedersi di piu bello in genova in Pitture’, (ed. Genoa, 1780), p.190, where listed as in the ‘fourth drawing-room’ at the Palazzo del Sig. Francesco M. Balbi; F. Alizeri, ‘Guida Artistica per la Cittá di Genova’, (Genoa, 1846-7), Vol. 2, p.76; J. Guiffrey, ‘Antoine van Dyck: sa vie et son oeuvre’, (ed. Paris, 1893), p. 257, no. 368; S.J. Barnes and A.K. Wheelock Jnr. (ed.), ‘Van Dyck 350’, (Hanover and London, 1994), p.86, where stated as by ‘Adriaen van Bloemen (?)’, with provenance stated as ‘Gia Collezione Balbi-Senarega, Genova’.
‘100 Opere di Van Dyck’, Genoa, Palazzo dell’ Accademia, 1955, no. 97 as ‘Attribuzione Van Dyck, Ritratto Di Gentiluomo’.
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This recently identified portrait of Filippo Spinola was most likely painted, according to the Rev. Susan Barnes, within the last few months of Van Dyck’s stay in Italy, with studio assistance.

The identity of the sitter is confirmed by an engraving made by Cornelis Meyssens (c.1674) after a drawing by Adriaen van Bloemen - to whom this painting was at one point, prior to conservation, tentatively attributed.

The acceptance of this work by Barnes into Van Dyck’s Genoese oeuvre further strengthens our understanding of the Spinola family’s patronage of the artist, and fills an iconographic void previously suggested by the existence of portraits by Van Dyck of the sitter’s father and sister.

Filippo Spinola was the son of the celebrated General Ambrogio Spinola, 1st Marquis of the Balbases (1569-1630) and Giovanetta Bacciadonne y Doria (1597-1615). By the time Filippo sat to Van Dyck the Spinola family, who were already well established at the Spanish court, were thrust further into prominence by Ambrogio’s success at the Siege of Breda (1624-5) during the Dutch Revolt. Around this time Van Dyck also painted Filippo’s sister, Polissena Spinola (1600-37) [Prado, Madrid], and also his father Ambrogio [Scottish National Gallery].
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