Artibus et Historiae no. 29 (XV)

1994, ISSN 0391-9064

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JOHN F. MOFFITT - Rubens' Duke of Lerma, Equestrian Amongst "Imperial Horseman"

Peter Paul Rubens' portrait of The Duke of Lerma, Equestrian (Prado) was painted in Valladolid in 1603. This is the first important state-portrait to introduce a new variation on equestrian representation, and, according to the formula established by Rubens, the horse is viewed from an oblique angle and is seen advancing towards the viewer. In 1633, Van Dyck repeated the scheme in his Equestrian-Portrait of King Charles I, where he "restored" a triumphal arch enframement which Rubens had chosen to omit. As is argued here, the source for these and other examples of the obliquely viewed imperial horseman was an illustrated pamphlet by A. F. Oliviero, Carlo Quinto in Olmo (1567). Oliviero's text describes the triumphal entry of the Emperor Charles V in Ulm following his military successes over the Protestant League, the historical source of the most famous equestrian of all, Titian's depiction of Charles V at Muhlberg (1548: Prado). The source for the architectural motif shown in the Italian print of 1567(and "restored" in 1633 by Van Dyck) turns out to be the Triumphal Arch of Trajan, as previously illustrated in Serlio's Architettura (1540).

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