- Museum number
Portrait of Sir Theodore Turquet de Mayerne, physician; half-length, slightly to right, looking to left, with moustache and long white beard. c.1631
Oil and black chalk, with grey wash
- Production date
- 1631 (circa)
Height: 311 millimetres
Width: 218 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This portly sitter can be identified as Sir Theodore de Mayerne who was a Royal physician and resident in England from 1611 to 1655. Executed in oils and black chalk with grey wash, it has all the character of a completed work. It is known that Rubens made a portrait of Mayerne while in London in 1629. Though the original does not survive, a Portrait of Theodore Turquet in the National Portrait Gallery (inv. NPG 1652) is in the same orientation and was long thought to be an original by Rubens before cleaning revealed it to be a 17th or 18th century copy. It has been variously disputed whether this was a particularly detailed preparatory study by Rubens for the original painting or a ricordo that Rubens made and took back to Antwerp with him.
Lit: L. Burchard-R.A. d'Hulst, 'Rubens Drawings', 1963, pp.264-66, no.171, fig.171; J. Rowlands, ‘Rubens: Drawings and Sketches’, exhibition catalogue, British Museum,1977, no. 158; C. White and L. Stainton, 'Drawings in England from Hilliard to Hogarth', 1987, pp.69-70, no.29, fig.29; F. Donovan, 'Rubens and England', New Haven and London, 2004, pp.66-67; Karen Hearn, 'Rubens and Britain', London, 2012, p. 17, fig. 6.
Entry from J. Rowlands, ‘Rubens: Drawings and Sketches’, exhibition catalogue, British Museum,1977, no. 158:
The sitter, Sir Theodore de Mayerne (1573-1655), was successively physician to Henry IV of France, James I and Charles I, and lived in England from 1611 until his death. He had considerable interest in the technical aspects of painting, and it was at his request that Edward Northgate undertook his treatise on the art of miniature painting, 'Miniatura or the Art of Limning'.
A portrait of Mayerne was included in the inventory of Rubens's effects after his death. The present study was not undertaken, as has been previously suggested, for the portrait in the National Portrait Gallery, which cleaning has revealed to be a copy of the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century. Two types of portraits deriving from the present sketch have come down to us: those with a plain background, faithfully following this drawing and those with the sitter looking straight out of the picture, behind him a statute of Aesculapius and a view of a harbour. It seems the portrait that Mayerne received from Rubens in 1631 was of the latter type, as in his letter to the artist of 25 March that year he mentions the statue and harbour in the background. A studio version of good quality with a plain background, said to be from the collection of the eighteenth-century physician Dr Richard Mead, is now in the North Carolina Museum of Art.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1974 July-Dec, BM, 'Portrait Drawings', no.85
1977 BM, 'Rubens drawings and sketches', no.158
1985 May-Oct, London, Museum of London, Huguenots
1987 June-Aug, BM, 'Hilliard to Hogarth', no.29
1987 Sept-Nov, New Haven, Yale Center for British Art, 'Hilliard to Hogarth'
2001-2 Nov-May, London, Tate Britain, 'Launch Displays 2001-2'
2004 May-Sep, London, NPG, 'Sir Theodore Turquet de Mayerne'
2005, 7 July-25 Sept, BM, 'Masterpieces of Portrait Drawing' (no cat.)
2009 Nov BM, P&D, 'Rubens Drawings' (no cat.)
2011/12 Nov-May Tate Britain, 'Rubens and Britain'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number