“Both large and small (designs) elaborated by the noble brush of Egmont”. An introduction to the life and works of Justus van Egmont (1602-1674)

Prisca Valkeneers, 30 March 2014

Justus van Egmont (1602-1674) was born in Leiden and received his early training in the studio of Kaspar van den Hoecke (c. 1585-1641/1648) in Antwerp. Van Egmont had excellent contacts in the metropolis, including both Van Dyck and Rubens. He is listed as one of the pupils in Rubens’s studio and as such he was involved in the installation of the Medici cycle in the Palais du Luxembourg in Paris. It may have been in Paris that Van Egmont became acquainted with the French art scene, since he returned to the French capital in 1628 and stayed there until the 1650s. He initially joined the workshop of Simon Vouet (1590-1649) but later set up a studio of his own.

Although Justus van Egmont is known primarily as a prolific portraitist of the French nobility, he also made religious and history paintings as well as running a profitable printmaking studio. Van Egmont’s children were probably trained in his studio and took part in the large-scale production of the replicas of portraits of and for the French nobility. After he returned from Paris in the 1650s, he focused mainly on designs for several large tapestry series.

Van Egmont’s varied oeuvre, consisting of drawings, modelli, prints, paintings, and tapestries, is in urgent need of more research, so that his share in the art of the 17th century can be properly assessed. The Rubens House recently became one of only a handful of museums in this region to possess a work by Van Egmont in its collection. This acquisition, a marvelous sketch depicting The Reconciliation of the Romans and the Sabines, was hung in the first-floor Corner Room of the Rubens House after the lecture.