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Isabella Brant was the first wife of the Antwerp master Peter Paul Rubens, whom she married shortly after his return from Italy in 1609. Just before Anthony van Dyck, one-time protégé and frequent collaborator of Rubens, left Antwerp in October 1621 for his own extended stay in Italy, he apparently presented this portrait to his mentor. Given the close personal and professional relationship between Van Dyck and Rubens, it is not surprising that Van Dyck, whose proficiency in portraiture was widely acknowledged at the time, would give a portrait of Rubens's beloved wife as a token of his appreciation for all his mentor had done for him. Van Dyck probably based this boldly executed portrait of Isabella on a likeness Rubens had drawn of his alert and smiling wife around 1620, and it is said that Rubens never ceased to praise Van Dyck's rendition.

The monumental Italianate partition at the entrance to the garden at Rubens's mansion, an Antwerp landmark designed by the artist-owner himself as one of northern Europe's first classically styled structures, provides a fitting setting. Rubens had placed sculptures of Mercury, god of painters, and Minerva, goddess of wisdom and learning, atop the screen. In his portrait, Van Dyck moved the statue of Minerva to an imaginary position behind Isabella's right shoulder, reinforcing the link between his sitter and the goddess. Van Dyck added to Isabella's liveliness and flair through the angled rhythms of the orange-red curtain behind her, the colorful elegance of her red-and-gold dress, the shimmering gold and jeweled chain draped across her chest, and the clouds passing across the blue sky. Isabella Brant died in 1626 at age 34 of the bubonic plague, leaving behind a desolate Rubens and three children.

In 1772, Empress Catherine II of Russia (1729–1796) purchased the portrait as a work by Rubens for her Imperial Hermitage Gallery in Saint Petersburg. It was first correctly attributed to Van Dyck as early as 1895, but the debate about the painting's authorship continued and Isabella Brant entered the collection of Andrew Mellon—and subsequently the National Gallery of Art—as a Rubens, only to receive its final reattribution to Van Dyck in 1976.


Pierre Crozat [1665-1740], Paris; by inheritance to his nephews, first to Louis-François Crozat, marquis du Châtel [1691-1750], Paris, and then [on Louis-François' death without a male heir] to Louis-Antoine Crozat, baron de Thiers [1700-1770]; the latter's heirs; purchased 1772, through Denis Diderot [1713-1784] as an intermediary, by Catherine II, empress of Russia [1729-1796], for the Imperial Hermitage Gallery, Saint Petersburg; purchased August 1930, as a painting by Peter Paul Rubens, through (Matthiesen Gallery, Berlin; P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., London; and M. Knoedler & Co., New York) by Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.; deeded 30 March 1932 to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh;[1] gift 1937 to NGA.

Exhibition History

Anthony van Dyck, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1990-1991, no. 23, color repro.
Von Bruegel bis Rubens: Das goldene Jahrhundert der flämischen Malerei, Wallraf-Richartz-Museums, Cologne; Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp; Kunsthistorischen Museum, Vienna, 1992-1993, no. 61.1 (German cat.), no. 52 (Dutch cat.), repros.
Van Dyck 1599-1641, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp; Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1999, no. 27, repro.
Isabella Rubens, Alte Pinakothek, Munich, 2003-2004, no cat.
A House of Art: Rubens as Collector, Rubenshuis, Antwerp, March-June 2004, no. 56, repro.
Loan for display with permanent collection, Alte Pinakothek, Munich, January-February 2004.
Rubens & Van Dyck, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, 2010, no. 29, repro.
Palazzo Rubens. The Master as Architect, Rubenshuis, Antwerp, 2011, no. 57, fig. 129.
The Young Van Dyck, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2012-2013, no. 90, repro.
Rubens in Private: The Master Portrays his Family, Rubenshuis, Antwerp, 2015, no. 18, repro.


Schröder, Klaus Albrecht and Heinz Widauer, eds. Peter Paul Rubens. Exh. cat. Albertina, Vienna, 2004: 350, 351, fig. 2, repro.
Félibien, André. Entretiens sur les vies et sur les ouvrages des plus excellents peintres anciens et modernes. 6 vols. 1st ed. Paris, 1666-1688 (Reprint Trévoux, 1725): 3:439.
Weyerman, J. C. De levens beschryvingen der nederlandsche konstschilders en konstschilderessen. 4 vols. The Hague, 1729-1769: 1 (1729): 297.
Descamps, Jean Baptiste. La vie des peintres flamands, allemands et hollandais. 4 vols. Paris, 1753-1763: 2(1754):11.
Houbraken, Arnold. De Groote Schouburgh der Nederlantsche Konstschilders en Schilderessen. 3 vols. in 1. The Hague, 1753 (Reprint: Amsterdam, 1976): 1:182-183.
Catalogue des Tableaux du Cabinet de M. Crozat, Baron de Thiers. Paris, 1755 (reprint Genève, 1972): 74, as Rubens.
Imperial Hermitage Museum [probably Ernst von Münnich, ed.]. Catalogue des tableaux qui se trouvent dans les Cabinets du Palais Impérial à Saint-Pétersbourg. Based on the 1773 manuscript catalogue. Saint Petersburg, 1774: no. 924, as La premiere femme de Rubens by Rubens.
Imperial Hermitage Museum. Livret de la Galérie Impériale de l’Ermitage de Saint Petersbourg. Saint Petersburg, 1838: 361, no. 4, as Rubens.
Köhne, Baron B. de. Ermitage Impérial: Catalogue de la Galerie des Tableaux. Saint Petersburg, 1863: 128, no. 575, as Rubens.
Waagen, Gustav Friedrich. Die Gemäldesammlung in der kaiserlichen Ermitage zu St. Petersburg nebst Bemerkungen über andere dortige Kunstsammlungen. Munich, 1864: 140, no. 575, as Rubens.
Köhne, Baron Bernhard de. Ermitage Impérial: Catalogue de la Galérie des Tableaux. 3 vols. 2nd ed. Saint Petersburg, 1870: 2:61, no. 575, as Rubens.
Walpole, Horace. Anecdotes of Painting in England... [1762-1771]. 4 vols. Rev. ed. London, 1876: 2:88.
Walpole, Horace. Anecdotes of Painting in England; with some Account of the Principal Artists. 3 vols. London, 1876: 1:317.
Ris, Louis Clément de. “Musées du Nord. Musée Impérial de l'Ermitage à Saint-Pétersbourg: Ecole Flamande.” Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 18 (1879): 573-584, 578, as Rubens.
Rooses, Max. "Oeuvre de Rubens. Addenda et Corrigenda." Rubens-Bulletijn 4 (1896):284-287, as Rubens.
Rooses, Max. L'Oeuvre de P.P. Rubens: Histoire et Description de ses Tableaux et Dessins. 5 vols. Antwerp, 1886-1892: 4 (1890): 131, 136, no. 900, as Rubens.
Knackfuss, Hermann. Rubens. Bielefeld and Leipzig, 1895: 86, 94, repro., as Rubens.
Somof, Andrei. Ermitage Impérial. Catalogue de la galerie des tableaux. 3 vols.. Saint Petersburg, 1895: 2: 63, no. 575.
Stevenson, R.A.M. Peter Paul Rubens. London, 1898: 54, as Rubens.
Tourneux, Maurice. "Diderot et le Musée de l'Ermitage." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 19 (1898): 340, 342.
Phillips, Claude. "The Van Dyck Exhibition at Antwerp." The Nineteenth Century 46 (November 1899): 743.
Cust, Lionel. Anthony van Dyck. An Historical Study of His Life and Works. London, 1900: 24, 235, no. 31.
Phillips, Claude. "The Imperial Gallery of the Hermitage--III." The North American Review 170 (January 1900): 136-137.
Rooses, Max. Fifty Masterpieces of Anthony van Dyck. Trans. Fanny Knowles. London, 1900: 6, as Rubens.
Somof, Andrei. Ermitage Impérial. Catalogue de la galerie des tableaux. 3 vols.. Saint Petersburg, 1901: 2: 365-366, no. 575, as Rubens.
Rooses, Max. "Die vlämischen und niederländischen Meister in der Ermitage zu St. Petersburg [1]." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst 13 (1902):44, 46, as Rubens.
Cust, Lionel. Van Dyck. 2 vols. New York, 1903: 1:13.
Rooses, Max. Rubens'leven en werken. Amsterdam and Antwerp, 1903: 119, 547, repro. opp. 120, as Rubens.
Stokes, Hugh. Sir Anthony van Dyck. London and New York, 1904: xlvi.
Ricketts, Charles. "Review of Rooses 1904." The Burlington Magazine 6 (January 1905): 331.
Ricketts, Charles. "The Portait of Isabella Brandt in the Hermitage." The Burlington Magazine 7 (April 1905): 83-84.
Rooses, Max. "The Portrait of Isabella Brant in the Hermitage." The Burlington Magazine 6 (March 1905): 496-497, as Rubens.
Rosenerg, Adolf. P.P. Rubens, des Meisters Gemälde in 551 Abbildungen. Stuttgart and Leipzig, 1905: 262, 494, repro., as Rubens.
Bode, Wilhelm von. Rembrandt und Seine Zeitgenossen.... Leipzig, 1906: 268-269.
Rooses, Max. "Van Dijck's leer- en reisjaren II." Onze Kunst 12 (August 1907): 41, 42-44, repro., as Rubens.
Bode, Wilhelm von. Great Masters of Dutch and Flemish Painting. Translated by Margaret L. Clarke. London, 1909:312-313.
Dillon, Edward. Rubens. London, 1909: 97, note 1, 206, no. 29, repro., as Rubens.
Schaeffer, Emil. Van Dyck: des Meisters Gemälde. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben. Stuttgart, 1909: 167, 502, 525, repro.
Wrangell, Baron Nicolas. Les Chefs-d'Oeuvre de la Galérie de Tableaux de l'Hermitage Impérial à St-Pétersbourg. London, 1909: xii, xxx, 78, repro., as Rubens.
Bode, Wilhem von. "Ein neuaufgefundenes Bildnis von Rubens' erster Gattin Isabella Brant." Jahrbuch der Königlich Preussischen Kunstsammlungen 35 (1914): 222.
Glück, Gustav. "Rubens' Liebesgarten." Jb Wien 35 (1920-1921): 61, 65-66, 94.
Vanzype, Gustave. Pierre-Paul Rubens. L'Homme et l'oeuvre. Paris and Brussels, 1926: 99, as Rubens.
Burchard, Ludwig. "Genuesische Frauenbildnisse von Rubens." Jahrbuch der preussischen Kunstsammlungen 50 (1929): 322 note 3.
Glück, Gustav. Van Dyck: des Meisters Gemälde. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 13. Revised 2nd ed. New York and Stuttgart, 1931: 114, 531, repro.
Glück, Gustav. Rubens, Van Dyck und ihr Kreis. Vienna, 1933: 96, 100, 102, 144, 163, no. 262, 385, no. 4, 389.
Cortissoz, Royal. An Introduction to the Mellon Collection. Boston, 1937: 37, as Rubens.
Puyvelde, Leo van. "Les Portraits des Femmes de Rubens." Revue de l'Art 71 (April 1937): 5-7.
McBride, Ruth Q. "Old Masters in a New National Gallery." The National Geographic Magazine 78 (1 July 1940): 8, xviii, repro., as Rubens.
Puyvelde, Leo van. "Van Dyck's Portrait of Isabella Brant." Art in America 28 (January 1940): 3-9, repro.
De Tolnay, Charles. "Flemish Paintings in the National Gallery of Art." Magazine of Art 34 (April 1941): 194, 195, repro.
Held, Julius S. "Masters of Northern Europe, 1430-1660, in the National Gallery." Art News 40, no. 8 (June 1941): 13, repro
Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 174-175, no. 47, as by Peter Paul Rubens.
Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 240, repro. 39, as by Peter Paul Rubens.
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. Masterpieces of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1944: 90, color repro., as by Peter Paul Rubens.
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. "Rubens Paintings in America; with list." The Art Quarterly 9, no. 2 (Spring 1946): 154.
Francis, Henry S. "‘Portrait of Isabella Brant’ by Peter Paul Rubens." Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art 34 (December 1947): 248, as Rubens.
Goris, Jan-Albert, and Julius S. Held. Rubens in America. New York, 1947: 45 no. A2.
L. J. Roggeveen. "De National Gallery of Art te Washington." Phoenix 4, no. 12 (December 1949): 335, 340.
Paintings and Sculpture from the Mellon Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1949 (reprinted 1953 and 1958): 68, repro., as by Peter Paul Rubens.
Puyvelde, Leo van. Van Dyck. Brussels and Paris, 1950: 130.
Valentiner, Wilhem R. "Van Dyck's Character." The Art Quarterly 13 (Spring 1950): 94, repro. on 92.
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. "In the Sphere of Rubens." North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin 13 (Spring 1957): 7.
Held, Julius S. Rubens, Selected Drawings. 2 vols. New York, 1959: 1: 137.
Gerson, Horst and E. H. ter Kuile. Art and Architecture in Belgium, 1600 to 1800. Baltimore, 1960: 115, 118.
Burchard, Ludwig, and Roger-A. d'Hulst. Rubens Drawings. 2 vols. Brussels, 1963: 1: 213.
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 172, repro., as by Peter Paul Rubens.
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 118, as by Peter Paul Rubens.
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 2:270, color repro., as by Peter Paul Rubens.
The Women I Love: These Lovely Immigrants Are Part of Our National Treasure.” This Week Magazine (January 9, 1966): 10, color repro. (As by Peter Paul Rubens.)
Larsen, Erik. "Some new Van Dyck Materials and Problems." Raggi 7 (1967): 4, 5.
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 105, repro., as by Peter Paul Rubens.
Stuffmann, Margret. "Les tableaux de la collection de Pierre Crozat." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 72 (July-September 1968): 104, no. 386, repro., as Rubens.
Johnston, Elizabeth. "Joseph Highmore's Paris Journal, 1734." Walpole Society 42 (1970): 101 note 130.
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 312, repro., as by Peter Paul Rubens.
Vlieghe, Hans. "Une Grande collection Anversoise du Dix-Septième Siècle: Le Cabinet d'Arnold Lunden, Beau-Frère de Rubens." Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen 19 (1977): 184 note 41.
Larsen, Erik. L’opera completa di Van Dyck. 2 vols. Classici dell'arte 102-103. Milan, 1980: 1: 106, no. 297, repro.
McNairn, Alan. The Young van Dyck. Le Jeune van Dyck. Exh. cat. The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1980: 12, 16, 17, 272, repro.
Brown, Christopher. Van Dyck. Oxford, 1982: 59-60, repro.
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 256, no. 324, color repro.
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 143, repro.
Larsen, Erik. Seventeenth Century Flemish Painting. Freren, 1985: 168, 170, repro.
Barnes, Susan J. "Van Dyck in Italy 1621-1628." 2 vols. Ph.D. dissertation, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 1986: 1: 75 note 37.
Held, Julius S. Rubens: Selected Drawings. Mt. Kisco, 1986: 126.
Vlieghe, Hans. Portraits II. Rubens Portraits of Identified Sitters Painted in Antwerp (Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, Part XXI). London, 1987: 55, no. 36, repro.
Larsen, Erik. The Paintings of Anthony van Dyck. 2 vols. Freren, 1988: 1:198, repro.; 2:44, no. 77.
Muller, Jeffrey M. Rubens: The Artist as Collector. Princeton, 1989: 148, no. 6.
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr., and Susan J. Barnes. Anthony van Dyck,. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1990: 135, 141-143, no. 23, repro.
Kopper, Philip. America's National Gallery of Art: A Gift to the Nation. New York, 1991: 95, color repro.
Bauman, Guy C., and Walter A. Liedtke. Flemish Paintings in America: A Survey of Early Netherlandish and Fleming Paintings in the Public Collections of America. Antwerp, 1992: 247-249, repro.
Mai, Ekkehard and Hans Vlieghe, eds. Van Bruegel tot Rubens. De Antwerpse schilderschool 1550-1650. Exh. cat. Koninglijk Museum voor Schone Kunst, Antwerp, 1992: 134, no. 52, repro.
Mai, Ekkehard and Hans Vlieghe, eds. Von Bruegel bis Rubens. Das goldene Jahrhundert der flämischen Malerei. Exh. cat. Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, 1992: 394-396, no. 61.1, repro.
Sutten, Peter C., and Marjorie E. Wieseman, et al. The Age of Rubens Exh. cat. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Toledo (Ohio) Museum of Art. Boston, 1993: 394, 396, repro.
Held, Julius S. "Van Dyck's Relationship to Rubens." Studies in the History of Art 46 (1994): 75-76, repro.
Moir, Alfred. Anthony van Dyck. New York, 1994: 66-67, repro.
Lurie, Doron J. Van Dyke and His Age. Exh. cat. Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Tel Aviv, 1995: 23.
Gritsai, Natalia. Anthony Van Dyck. Bournemouth and Saint Petersburg, 1996: 14, 15, repro.
Neverov, Oleg, and Mikhail Piotrovsky. The Hermitage: Essays on the History of the Collection. Saint Petersburg, 1997: 170, repro.
Van der Stighelen, Katlijne van der. Van Dyck. Tielt, Belgium, 1998: 53, no. 104, repro.
Vlieghe, Hans. Flemish Art and Architecture. New Haven and London, 1998: 130, repro.
Brown, Chistopher, Hans Vlieghe, et al. Van Dyck 1599-1641. Exh. cat. Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp; Royal Academy of Arts, London. Antwerp and London, 1999: 19, 41, 47 note 74, 154-155, no. 27, repro.
Blake, Robin. Anthony van Dyck. A Life 1599-1641. Chicago, 2000: 143-144, 147, 150-151, 365.
Southgate, M. Therese. The Art of JAMA II: Covers and Essays from The Journal of the American Medical Association. Chicago, 2001: 84-85, 211, color repro.
Barnes, Susan J. Van Dyck: A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings. New Haven, 2004: I.100
Belkin, Kristin Lohse, and Fiona Healy. A House of Art: Rubens as Collector. Exh. cat. Rubenshuis, Antwerp, and Rubenianum, Schoten, Belgium, 2004: 238, no. 56, 239, repro.
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 223, no. 178, color repro.
Musée des Beaux-Arts. Rubens. Exh. cat. Palais des beaux-arts, Lille, 2004: 130 repro.
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Flemish Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 2005: 35-40, color repro.
Odom, Anne, and Wendy R. Salmond, eds. Treasures into Tractors: The Selling of Russia's Cultural Heritage, 1918-1938. Washington, 2009: 135 n. 62.
Maesschalck, Dimitri de. Vlaanderen in de kunst. Leuven, 2010:298, color repro.
Semyonova, Natalya, and Nicolas V. Iljine, eds. Selling Russia's Treasures: The Soviet Trade in Nationalized Art 1917-1938. New York and London, 2013: 138, 139, 162, repro.
Alsteens, Stijn, and Adam Eaker. Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture. Exh. cat. The Frick Collection, New York. New Haven and London, 2016: 5, fig. 5.
Libby, Alexandra. “From Personal Treasures to Public Gifts: The Flemish Painting Collection at the National Gallery of Art.” In America and the Art of Flanders: Collecting Paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck, and their Circles, edited by Esmée Quodbach. The Frick Collection Studies in the History of Art Collecting in America 5. University Park, 2020: 14, color fig. 8, 133, 139, 188 nt. 35.
Wheelock, Arthur K. Jr. “Pleasure and Prestige: The Complex History of Collecting Flemish Art in America.” In America and the Art of Flanders: Collecting Paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck, and Their Circles, edited by Esmée Quodbach. The Frick Collection Studies in the History of Art Collecting in America 5. University Park, 2020: 14, color fig. 8, 174, nt. 46.

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