- Museum number
The Triumph of Poverty; procession of men and women, some walking, some on a cart pulled by mules, holding tools and agricultural implements, inscribed plaque covering a tree at left
Pen and brown ink, with brown wash, bodycolour, and black and red chalk, heightened with white
- Production date
- 1624-1630 (circa)
Height: 434 millimetres
Width: 585 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This is one of a pair of copies, probably done by Lucas Vorsterman the Elder when he was in England between 1624 and 1630, after two very large paintings (between 2.22 and 2.44 m high) by Hans Holbein the Younger, 'The Triumph of Poverty' and 'The Triumph of Riches'. The paintings were made in about 1533-4, on commission from the Hanseatic merchants to decorate the dining- hall of their residence in the London Steelyard. They were painted on canvas in grisaille on a blue background, heightened with gold and lightly tinted in watercolour. The subjects of the 'Triumph of Riches' and the 'Triumph of Poverty', corresponded to the motto of the Hanseatic merchants, which was inscribed in Latin over the main entrance to the colony: "Gold is the father of joy and the son of care; he who lacks it is sad, he who has it is uneasy." Following the dissolution of the Hanseatic guild, the two paintings were eventually presented to Henry, Prince of Wales, and on his death passed to his brother, Charles I. Probably through exchange they came into the collection of the Earl of Arundel and were seen by Joachim von Sandrart hanging at Arundel House in 1627. They were later shipped with some other parts of the Earl's collection to Antwerp and were ultimately destroyed by fire in the Bishop's Palace in Kremsier in 1752. 1894,0721.2 and its companion, the 'Triumph of Riches', in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (Rowlands, 1985, no. L13B, pl. 193), remain the only surviving copies in colour, and in their freedom of execution probably provide the most convincing impressions of the originals. The various personages are identified by inscriptions in Latin and, in one case, in Greek. Inscribed on a tablet hanging from a tree on the left are verses in Latin explaining the allegory, written, according to Vorsterman's engraving, by Sir Thomas More (a full transcription is given by Hind). It is likely that Vorsterman, who worked for the Earl of Arundel, studied the paintings when they were in the latter's possession. The elaborate technique of the copies suggests that they were made as preparatory studies for engravings, but only the 'Triumph of Poverty' was ever executed, in a print inscribed 'Vorstermans' (for the impression in the BM, see 1854,0812.105). The most notable differences are that the tree and tablet are larger in the print, and that the foreground figures are smaller than in the drawing; the overall size is also different : 43.4 x 60.7 cm (without the lettering beneath). The print has been attributed to Lucas Vorsterman the Elder (see Henri Hymans, 'Lucas Vorsterman, Catalogue raisonné de son œuvre', 1893, pp. 125-6, no. 108) but both Vertue and Binyon considered it to be by this artist's son, Lucas the Younger, to whose work it bears a strong resemblance. Judging from the dedication to Ambrosius Capello, Bishop of Antwerp, it must have been executed between 1652 and 1676. Thus the print cannot have anything to do with the projected engraving to be dedicated to the Earl of Arundel, mentioned by Lucas Vorsterman the Elder in a letter written in 1632, addressed to the Earl (Hervey, 'Thomas Howard', p. 303; Brown, op. cit., p. 130). Although executed in a somewhat freer style than usual, there seems no reason to doubt the traditional attribution of the two copies to Lucas Vorsterman the Elder. Other copies of the paintings were made by Federico Zuccaro (Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, KdZ. 12886 & 12887) and Matthäus Merian (see 1864,0611.148) in London and by Jan de Bisschop (see 1854,0628.21) in Antwerp.
Literature: J. Rowlands, 'Drawings by German Artists and Artists from German- speaking regions of Europe in the Department of Prints and Dawings at the British Museum: the Fifteenth Century and the Sixteenth Century by Artists born before 1530', London, BM Press, 1993, no.381; 'An Account of the Paintings and Pictures at Buckingham House', compiled for John Sheffield, first Duke of Buckingham at some time between 1716 and his death in 1721, British Library, Harley Ms. 6344, fol. 5; a second copy of the above, with an inventory dated 1746 and a report by Vertue, dated 1747, are in the Lord Chamberlain's Office, Phillips Ms. 16972; Horace Walpole, Anecdotes of Painting, London, second edition, 1765, i, pp. 87f; Horace Walpole, 'A Description of the Villa of Mr Horace Walpole, with an Inventory of the Furniture, Pictures, Curiosities, etc.', Strawberry Hill, 1774, p. 63; Waagen, 'Treasures', ii, p. 266 (described as 'sepia drawings, by Zucchero'), Suppl., p. 36; Woltmann, i, p. 383; LB, ii, p. 343; Chamberlain, ii, pp. 26-27, repr. (erroneously called Jan de Bisschop); Hind, ii, p. 149, no. 16; P. Ganz, p.29, under no.120, p.98, no.c.54; Vertue Notebooks, in Walpole Society xxvi, 1937/8, pp. 65f; C. White, p.571, no. 197; P. Ganz, 'The Paintings of Hans Holbein the Younger', 1950, p.285; Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill, Orleans House, Twickenham, exh.cat., 1980, no.115; C.Brown, Ashmolean, p.130, under no.224; J. Rowlands, 'Holbein', p.224, no. L.139(a); L. Stainton and C. White, 'Drawings in England from Hilliard to Hogarth', 1987, cat.no.40; S. Foister, Holbein & England, 2004, pp.130ff, fig.135; S. Foister, 'Holbein in England', exh.cat. Tate Britain, London, 2006, no.69.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1980 Sep-Dec, London, Orleans House, Horace Walpole & Strawberry Hill
1987 June-Aug, BM, 'Hilliard to Hogarth'
1987 Sep-Nov, New Haven, YCBA, 'Hilliard to Hogarth'
2006/7 Sep-Jan, London, Tate Britain, Holbein in England
2009/10 Oct-Jan, New Haven, YCBA, Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill
2010 Mar-July, London, V&A, Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill
- Previous owner
Previous owner/ex-collection: Thomas Howard, 14th Earl of Arundel (?; see Brown, Ashmolean, pp. 129f)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Sir Peter Lely (L.2092; the companion drawing in the Ashmolean Museum, which has the same provenance until 1894, bears Lely's mark)
Previous owner/ex-collection: John Sheffield, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanby (Prestage, 25.ii.1763/33)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford (Robins, 17.v.1842/55, bt together with lot 54, Dommes £16 16s.)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Sir Charles Eastlake (Christie's, 2.vi.1894/17, bt Richter £8 8s)
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number