Recently discovered Rubens sketch to remain in Belgium


Antwerp businessman, who was revealed to be the buyer of the drawing “Horse and Knight with Turban” by Pieter Paul Rubens, is considering lending the artwork to a local museum

Home is where the art is

One of the most interesting art sales in recent times took place last week. The sale by Bernaerts Auction House in Antwerp concerned a watercolour drawing by the Antwerp master Pieter Paul Rubens of a man in a turban on horseback. On the other side are a number of sketches of horsemen.

The drawing (pictured) is signed by Anthony Van Dyck, Rubens’ celebrated pupil, but the watermark on the paper and the pigment used for the ochre wash reveal that the work is actually from the hand of Rubens himself. The drawing was discovered in a private estate.

It went on sale with an estimate of €300,000 to €500,000 but sold for €670,000 to a mystery buyer. “I’m delighted the drawing went for double the estimate,” said auctioneer Peter Bernaerts. “Beautiful works hold their value in these difficult times.”

Just days before the sale, the government of Flanders declared it an official top work of art, which means that it cannot be exported without permission. If permission is not granted, the new owner can sell it on at a price determined by three experts, taking account of the sale price.

Nothing to worry about, as it turns out. The buyer has since been revealed as Fernand Huts, the owner of the Antwerp logistics business Katoen Natie, which has its own museum. He is, however, considering lending the work to another museum in Antwerp.