National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Prefect Raffaele Raggi Sir Anthony van Dyck (artist)
Flemish, 1599 - 1641
The Prefect Raffaele Raggi, c. 1625
oil on canvas
overall: 131 x 105.4 cm (51 9/16 x 41 1/2 in.)
Widener Collection
On View
From the Tour: Sir Anthony van Dyck
Object 8 of 15


Probably Marchese Tomasso Raggi [c. 1597-1679], Rome, by 1664;[1] possibly Francesco Maria Balbi, Genoa, by 1780;[2] said to have been bought by Sir Walter Rockcliffe Farquahar, 3rd bt. [1810-1900], from the Balbi family in Genoa;[3] by inheritance to his son, Sir Walter Randolph Farquhar [1842-1901], London; (his sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 2 June 1894, no. 124);[4](Sedelmeyer Gallery, Paris); purchased 1894 by Peter A.B. Widener, Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania;[5] inheritance from Estate of Peter A.B. Widener by gift through power of appointment of Joseph E. Widener, Elkins Park; gift 1942 to NGA.

[1] Giovanni Pietro Bellori (attr.), Nota delli musei, librerie, gallerie et ornamenti di statue e pitture (...) di Roma, Rome, 1664: 47, lists: "Marchese Raggi. Palazzo sotto Campidoglio con gran numero di ritratti della famiglia Raggi, di mano di Antonio Van-Dych [sic] fatti con tutta la vivezza del colore, & diverse opere di altri Maestri." The "Marchese" mentioned here is presumably Tommaso Raggi (c. 1597-1679), a governor and senator of the Genoese Republic who, after having been accused of murder, was expelled from his home city in about 1627 and established himself in Rome, where he became "generale delle galere" to Pope Urban VIII in 1629, see Vittorio Spreti, Enciclopedia storico-nobiliare italiana - famiglie nobili e titolate viventi riconosciute dal R.o governo d'Italia..., 9 vols., Milan, 1928-1936: 5(1933-1935):582.

[2] Carlo Giuseppe Ratti, Instruzione di quanto può vedersi di più bello in Genova in pittura, scultura, ed architettura ecc... nuovamente ampliata e accresciuta, Genoa, 1780: 193, mentions a "Ritratto d'un Generale vestito d'armadura del Vandik" in the collection of Francesco Maria Balbi in Genoa. Although Raggi's name is not noted in the reference, and Van Dyck painted a number of portraits of men in armor during his stay in Genoa, indirect evidence links this portrait with that of Raffaele Raggi. (Ratti, for example, could have been referring to Van Dyck's painting A Man in Armour [now in the Cincinnati Art Museum, inv. no. 1927.393], which is known to have been in the Balbi Collection; see Christopher Brown, Hans Vlieghe, et al., Van Dyck 1599-1641, exh. cat., Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp, and Royal Academy of Arts, London, Antwerp and London, 1999: 190-191, no. 43.)

It is not certain how or when the Gallery's painting came to the Balbi family, but paintings were often transferred through marriage. Federica Lamera and Giorgio Pigafetta, eds., Il Palazzo dell'Università di Genova. Il Collegio dei Gesuiti nella Strada dei Balbi, Genoa, 1987: 42-43, publish a Balbi family tree, which lists two marriages that could be of particular interest regarding this painting: Battina Balbi with Gio. Antonio Raggio and Bianca Balbi with Gio. Batta Raggio. It is possible that the Raggi paintings may have come into the possession of the Balbi family through one of these marriages. It does seem possible that the Gallery's painting was no longer in the possession of the Raggi family in 1780, as Ratti 1780, 231, does not mention a portrait of a general or a prefect among the other paintings by Van Dyck in the Palazzo Raggi in the Via del Campo, home of Giulio Raggi.

[3] Piero Boccardo, "Ritratti di collezionisti e committenti," in Susan Barnes, Piero Boccardo, et al., Van Dyck e Genova. Grande pittura e collezionismo, exh. cat. Palazzo Ducale, Genoa, 1997: 30, notes that after the end of the Genoese oligarchy and the Napoleonic wars, economic crises led to the sale of many paintings, particularly to collectors in England. An 1894 Widener inventory entry indicates that the painting was acquired from the Balbi family by the father of the previous owner, Sir Walter Randolph Farquhar ("A Gentleman in Armour from the Collection of an English nobleman whose father bought the painting from the Balby [sic] family of Genoa."), see P.A.B. Widener, "Inventory of Paintings," unpublished ms., National Gallery of Art, Gallery Archives, Washington, D.C., n.d. [1890s]: unpaginated, no. 140.

[4] In the 1894 sale of Farquhar's collection, the Van Dyck portrait is described as "A General in Armour, with arms," that is, in terms comparable to those used by Ratti to describe the portrait in the collection of Francesco Maria Balbi, see note 2 above. In an annotated copy of the sales catalogue (in the Knoedler Library British Sales microfiche), the name "Shepherd" and the numbers "73-10" appear in handwriting next to the description of lot number 124. "Shepherd" is probably a reference to the firm of Shepherd Brothers in London, which seems to have been active from the early 1890s to the early c. 1910. The fact that the name "Sedelmeyer" also appears several times in this annotated sales catalogue indicates that he was also actively buying at the Farquhar sale. Shepherd may have sold the painting directly to Sedelmeyer.

[5] Date and source of Widener's acquisition according to Widener records in NGA curatorial files.

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