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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.

Provenance

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
1990
Anthony van Dyck, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1990-1991, no. 23, color repro.
1992
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.
1999
Van Dyck 1599-1641, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp; Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1999, no. 27, repro.
2003
Isabella Rubens, Alte Pinakothek, Munich, 2003-2004, no cat.
2004
A House of Art: Rubens as Collector, Rubenshuis, Antwerp, March-June 2004, no. 56, repro.
2004
Loan for display with permanent collection, Alte Pinakothek, Munich, January-February 2004.
2010
Rubens & Van Dyck, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, 2010, no. 29, repro.
2011
Palazzo Rubens. The Master as Architect, Rubenshuis, Antwerp, 2011, no. 57, fig. 129.
2012
The Young Van Dyck, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2012-2013, no. 90, repro.
2015
Rubens in Private: The Master Portrays his Family, Rubenshuis, Antwerp, 2015, no. 18, repro.
Bibliography
n.d.
Schröder, Klaus Albrecht and Heinz Widauer, eds. Peter Paul Rubens. Exh. cat. Albertina, Vienna, 2004: 350, 351, fig. 2, repro.
1666
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.
1729
Weyerman, J. C. De levens beschryvingen der nederlandsche konstschilders en konstschilderessen. 4 vols. The Hague, 1729-1769: 1 (1729): 297.
1753
Descamps, Jean Baptiste. La vie des peintres flamands, allemands et hollandais. 4 vols. Paris, 1753-1763: 2(1754):11.
1753
Houbraken, Arnold. De Groote Schouburgh der Nederlantsche Konstschilders en Schilderessen. 3 vols. in 1. The Hague, 1753 (Reprint: Amsterdam, 1976): 1:182-183.
1755
Catalogue des Tableaux du Cabinet de M. Crozat, Baron de Thiers. Paris, 1755 (reprint Genève, 1972): 74, as Rubens.
1774
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.
1838
Imperial Hermitage Museum. Livret de la Galérie Impériale de l’Ermitage de Saint Petersbourg. Saint Petersburg, 1838: 361, no. 4, as Rubens.
1863
Köhne, Baron B. de. Ermitage Impérial: Catalogue de la Galerie des Tableaux. Saint Petersburg, 1863: 128, no. 575, as Rubens.
1864
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.
1870
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.
1876
Walpole, Horace. Anecdotes of Painting in England... [1762-1771]. 4 vols. Rev. ed. London, 1876: 2:88.
1876
Walpole, Horace. Anecdotes of Painting in England; with some Account of the Principal Artists. 3 vols. London, 1876: 1:317.
1879
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.
1886
Rooses, Max. "Oeuvre de Rubens. Addenda et Corrigenda." Rubens-Bulletijn 4 (1896):284-287, as Rubens.
1890
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.
1895
Knackfuss, Hermann. Rubens. Bielefeld and Leipzig, 1895: 86, 94, repro., as Rubens.
1895
Somof, Andrei. Ermitage Impérial. Catalogue de la galerie des tableaux. 3 vols.. Saint Petersburg, 1895: 2: 63, no. 575.
1898
Stevenson, R.A.M. Peter Paul Rubens. London, 1898: 54, as Rubens.
1898
Tourneux, Maurice. "Diderot et le Musée de l'Ermitage." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 19 (1898): 340, 342.
1899
Phillips, Claude. "The Van Dyck Exhibition at Antwerp." The Nineteenth Century 46 (November 1899): 743.
1900
Cust, Lionel. Anthony van Dyck. An Historical Study of His Life and Works. London, 1900: 24, 235, no. 31.
1900
Phillips, Claude. "The Imperial Gallery of the Hermitage--III." The North American Review 170 (January 1900): 136-137.
1900
Rooses, Max. Fifty Masterpieces of Anthony van Dyck. Trans. Fanny Knowles. London, 1900: 6, as Rubens.
1901
Somof, Andrei. Ermitage Impérial. Catalogue de la galerie des tableaux. 3 vols.. Saint Petersburg, 1901: 2: 365-366, no. 575, as Rubens.
1902
Rooses, Max. "Die vlämischen und niederländischen Meister in der Ermitage zu St. Petersburg [1]." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst 13 (1902):44, 46, as Rubens.
1903
Cust, Lionel. Van Dyck. 2 vols. New York, 1903: 1:13.
1903
Rooses, Max. Rubens'leven en werken. Amsterdam and Antwerp, 1903: 119, 547, repro. opp. 120, as Rubens.
1904
Stokes, Hugh. Sir Anthony van Dyck. London and New York, 1904: xlvi.
1905
Ricketts, Charles. "Review of Rooses 1904." The Burlington Magazine 6 (January 1905): 331.
1905
Ricketts, Charles. "The Portait of Isabella Brandt in the Hermitage." The Burlington Magazine 7 (April 1905): 83-84.
1905
Rooses, Max. "The Portrait of Isabella Brant in the Hermitage." The Burlington Magazine 6 (March 1905): 496-497, as Rubens.
1905
Rosenerg, Adolf. P.P. Rubens, des Meisters Gemälde in 551 Abbildungen. Stuttgart and Leipzig, 1905: 262, 494, repro., as Rubens.
1906
Bode, Wilhelm von. Rembrandt und Seine Zeitgenossen.... Leipzig, 1906: 268-269.
1907
Rooses, Max. "Van Dijck's leer- en reisjaren II." Onze Kunst 12 (August 1907): 41, 42-44, repro., as Rubens.
1909
Bode, Wilhelm von. Great Masters of Dutch and Flemish Painting. Translated by Margaret L. Clarke. London, 1909:312-313.
1909
Dillon, Edward. Rubens. London, 1909: 97, note 1, 206, no. 29, repro., as Rubens.
1909
Schaeffer, Emil. Van Dyck: des Meisters Gemälde. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben. Stuttgart, 1909: 167, 502, 525, repro.
1909
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.
1914
Bode, Wilhem von. "Ein neuaufgefundenes Bildnis von Rubens' erster Gattin Isabella Brant." Jahrbuch der Königlich Preussischen Kunstsammlungen 35 (1914): 222.
1920
Glück, Gustav. "Rubens' Liebesgarten." Jb Wien 35 (1920-1921): 61, 65-66, 94.
1926
Vanzype, Gustave. Pierre-Paul Rubens. L'Homme et l'oeuvre. Paris and Brussels, 1926: 99, as Rubens.
1929
Burchard, Ludwig. "Genuesische Frauenbildnisse von Rubens." Jahrbuch der preussischen Kunstsammlungen 50 (1929): 322 note 3.
1931
Glück, Gustav. Van Dyck: des Meisters Gemälde. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 13. Revised 2nd ed. New York and Stuttgart, 1931: 114, 531, repro.
1933
Glück, Gustav. Rubens, Van Dyck und ihr Kreis. Vienna, 1933: 96, 100, 102, 144, 163, no. 262, 385, no. 4, 389.
1937
Cortissoz, Royal. An Introduction to the Mellon Collection. Boston, 1937: 37, as Rubens.
1937
Puyvelde, Leo van. "Les Portraits des Femmes de Rubens." Revue de l'Art 71 (April 1937): 5-7.
1940
McBride, Ruth Q. "Old Masters in a New National Gallery." The National Geographic Magazine 78 (1 July 1940): 8, xviii, repro., as Rubens.
1940
Puyvelde, Leo van. "Van Dyck's Portrait of Isabella Brant." Art in America 28 (January 1940): 3-9, repro.
1941
De Tolnay, Charles. "Flemish Paintings in the National Gallery of Art." Magazine of Art 34 (April 1941): 194, 195, repro.
1941
Held, Julius S. "Masters of Northern Europe, 1430-1660, in the National Gallery." Art News 40, no. 8 (June 1941): 13, repro
1941
Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 174-175, no. 47, as by Peter Paul Rubens.
1942
Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 240, repro. 39, as by Peter Paul Rubens.
1944
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.
1946
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. "Rubens' Paintings in America." The Art Quarterly IX, no. 2 (Spring 1946): 154.
1947
Francis, Henry S. "‘Portrait of Isabella Brant’ by Peter Paul Rubens." Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art 34 (December 1947): 248, as Rubens.
1947
Goris, Jan-Albert, and Julius S. Held. Rubens in America. New York, 1947: 45 no. A2.
1949
L. J. Roggeveen. "De National Gallery of Art te Washington." Phoenix 4, no. 12 (December 1949): 335, 340.
1949
Paintings and Sculpture from the Mellon Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1949 (reprinted 1953 and 1958): 68, repro., as by Peter Paul Rubens.
1950
Puyvelde, Leo van. Van Dyck. Brussels and Paris, 1950: 130.
1950
Valentiner, Wilhem R. "Van Dyck's Character." The Art Quarterly 13 (Spring 1950): 94, repro. on 92.
1957
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. "In the Sphere of Rubens." North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin 13 (Spring 1957): 7.
1959
Held, Julius S. Rubens, Selected Drawings. 2 vols. New York, 1959: 1: 137.
1960
Gerson, Horst and E. H. ter Kuile. Art and Architecture in Belgium, 1600 to 1800. Baltimore, 1960: 115, 118.
1963
Burchard, Ludwig, and Roger-A. d'Hulst. Rubens Drawings. 2 vols. Brussels, 1963: 1: 213.
1963
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.
1965
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 118, as by Peter Paul Rubens.
1966
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.
1966
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.)
1967
Larsen, Erik. "Some new Van Dyck Materials and Problems." Raggi 7 (1967): 4, 5.
1968
European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 105, repro., as by Peter Paul Rubens.
1968
Stuffmann, Margret. "Les tableaux de la collection de Pierre Crozat." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 72 (July-September 1968): 104, no. 386, repro., as Rubens.
1970
Johnston, Elizabeth. "Joseph Highmore's Paris Journal, 1734." Walpole Society 42 (1970): 101 note 130.
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 312, repro., as by Peter Paul Rubens.
1977
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.
1980
Larsen, Erik. L’opera completa di Van Dyck. 2 vols. Classici dell'arte 102-103. Milan, 1980: 1: 106, no. 297, repro.
1980
McNairn, Alan. The Young van Dyck. Le Jeune van Dyck. Exh. cat. The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1980: 12, 16, 17, 272, repro.
1982
Brown, Christopher. Van Dyck. Oxford, 1982: 59-60, repro.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 256, no. 324, color repro.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 143, repro.
1985
Larsen, Erik. Seventeenth Century Flemish Painting. Freren, 1985: 168, 170, repro.
1986
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.
1986
Held, Julius S. Rubens: Selected Drawings. Mt. Kisco, 1986: 126.
1987
Vlieghe, Hans. Portraits II. Rubens Portraits of Identified Sitters Painted in Antwerp (Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, Part XXI). London, 1987: 55, no. 36, repro.
1988
Larsen, Erik. The Paintings of Anthony van Dyck. 2 vols. Freren, 1988: 1: 198, repro.; 2: 44, no. 77.
1989
Muller, Jeffrey M. Rubens: The Artist as Collector. Princeton, 1989: 148, no. 6.
1990
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.
1991
Kopper, Philip. America's National Gallery of Art: A Gift to the Nation. New York, 1991: 95, color repro.
1992
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.
1992
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.
1992
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.
1993
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.
1994
Held, Julius S. "Van Dyck's Relationship to Rubens." Studies in the History of Art 46 (1994): 75-76, repro.
1994
Moir, Alfred. Anthony van Dyck. New York, 1994: 66-67, repro.
1995
Lurie, Doron J. Van Dyke and His Age. Exh. cat. Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Tel Aviv, 1995: 23.
1996
Gritsai, Natalia. Anthony Van Dyck. Bournemouth and Saint Petersburg, 1996: 14, 15, repro.
1997
Neverov, Oleg, and Mikhail Piotrovsky. The Hermitage: Essays on the History of the Collection. Saint Petersburg, 1997: 170, repro.
1998
Van der Stighelen, Katlijne van der. Van Dyck. Tielt, Belgium, 1998: 53, no. 104, repro.
1998
Vlieghe, Hans. Flemish Art and Architecture. New Haven and London, 1998: 130, repro.
1999
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.
2000
Blake, Robin. Anthony van Dyck. A Life 1599-1641. Chicago, 2000: 143-144, 147, 150-151, 365.
2001
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.
2004
Barnes, Susan J. Van Dyck: A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings. New Haven, 2004: I.100
2004
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.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 223, no. 178, color repro.
2004
Musée des Beaux-Arts. Rubens. Exh. cat. Palais des beaux-arts, Lille, 2004: 130 repro.
2005
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.
2009
Odom, Anne, and Wendy R. Salmond, eds. Treasures into Tractors: The Selling of Russia's Cultural Heritage, 1918-1938. Washington, 2009:
2010
Maesschalck, Dimitri de. Vlaanderen in de kunst. Leuven, 2010:298, color repro.
2016
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.
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