[FOURMENT, Helena]. [MCARDELL, James, engraver, after Peter Paul RUBENS]. ~ Reubens’s Wife. Sold by E. Fisher and Ryland & Bryer, [ 1742-1765].
Mezzotint portrait (355 × 255 mm), cut close to plate mark. Very light creasing and minor rubbing, expert old repair to two corners, one margin reinforced at verso, but a very presentable copy.
The famous portrait of Helena Fourment, Rubens’s second wife. The couple married in 1630, when she was 16 years old (and he was 53). The original painting was in the collection of Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford at Houghton Hall, from which several engraved versions were made; it was sold in 1779 to Catherine the Great and is now in the Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon. The plate is known in several states, almost all attributing the painting not to Rubens, but to Van Dyck, while this rare state correctly gives Rubens (agreeing with modern attributions). McArdell was one of the most successful mezzotint engravers of the period: ‘During the 1750s Macardell engraved several paintings by Rembrandt, and more particularly by Rubens and Van Dyck, demonstrating his virtuosity through his tonal interpretation of the luxuriant flesh and fabric of the Flemish school’ (Oxford DNB). Goodwin, 120.v; Chaloner Smith, 69; Russell, 69.v.