Sebastiaen Vrancx (Antwerp 1573 - 1647)

Drawings from Virgil's Aeneid
Tyr Baudouin, 2012

SEBASTIAEN VRANCX (Antwerp 1573 - 1647) was an important baroque painter and draughtsman of the first half of the seventeenth century. After his training in the workshop of Adam van Noort, who also trained others, such as Peter Paul Rubens, he travelled to Italy around 1597, where he met the famous landscape painter Paul Bril. After his return to Antwerp, he established himself as a painter, foremost of cavalry and battle scenes and village plunderings.


However, research has shown that he successfully pursued other activities as well. Not only was Vrancx an engraver; as a leading member of De Violieren, the well-known Antwerp Chamber of Rhetoric, he was also a respected writer. Around 1615, someone in the Chamber took on the task of writing a new Dutch translation of Virgil’s epic poem, the Aeneid. Whether or not Vrancx himself was the translator has been much debated; what is certain, however, is that he illustrated this new translation, which, for unknown reasons, remained unpublished at the time.


At least sixty-five drawings from this series (which may once have featured in Rubens’ art collection, since some of Vrancx’ drawings quite possibly served as sources for several of Rubens’ oil sketches) are known to exist; six are in museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) and the Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge), the other fifty-nine were all in a private collection, which was sold at Drouot (Paris) in 1981. The present series of drawings, hitherto unpublished, has recently been rediscovered. They illustrate several key scenes from the epic story of Aeneas’ journey. With visible pleasure, Vrancx shows his considerable skill as a draughtsman in these delightful depictions of Olympic Gods, battle scenes and hunting episodes, dedicated to that greatest of Roman authors, Virgil.


Download our 2012 catalogue Sebastiaen Vrancx (Antwerp 1573 - 1647): Drawings from Virgil's Aeneid here.