Mark Lamster | Essays

After Peter Paul Rubens (Long After)


Perusing the Christie's website a few days ago, I noticed the print above, attributed to William Pether "after Peter Paul Rubens." According to the listing, there is a note on the print, presumably by Pether himself, that indicates the subject is "Helena Forman," Rubens's second wife. Pether, however, seems to have been operating from several faulty assumptions. First, Rubens's wife was actually named Helena Fourment; the strange Anglicization is one I have never seen before. Also, that's not her. Rubens adored his wife and painted her endlessly, as did other artists of the period, so the mixup is understandable. Certainly, it's more selling to suggest a print is after Rubens than the admittedly obscure Paulus Moreelse, as is the case. (Thanks to Elizabeth Honig for the tip.) This only confirms my inherent skepticism of auction listings, and connoisseurship in general. The buyer of the picture may not have been fooled, however. The print sold for £250, about half its estimated value. In all, I'd say a very good deal.

Posted in: Arts + Culture, Media

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