Flemish School 1st half 17th century
Portrait of Archduke Albrecht VII of Austria, Stadtholder of the Spanish Netherlands
Oil on canvas (relined). 125 x 103.5 cm.
Archduke Albrecht von Habsburg (1559-1621) was the fifth son of Emperor Maximilian II. He grew up at the Spanish court and first pursued a career in the church, becoming a Cardinal and Archbishop of Toledo. He became Viceroy of Portugal from 1583-1595, then Stadtholder of the Spanish Netherlands. He renounced his ecclesiastical titles and offices in 1598 and married Isabella Clara Eugenia, the daughter of Philipp II of Spain who had previously been engaged to Albrechts older brother Rudolf for 20 years without a marriage taking place. Albrecht and his wife co-ruled as Stadtholders of the Spanish Netherlands and were important patrons of the arts. They appointed Peter Paul Rubens court painter in 1609, and he created numerous portraits of the royal couple.
This representative portrait of Archduke Albrecht could be based on a composition by Rubens' teacher Otto van Veen. It bears the closest resemblance to a full-figure depiction of Albrecht von Habsburg in the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Virginia. This piece was previously attributed to Rubens but Hans Vlieghe has since brought it into connection with the circle of Caspar de Crayer. This three-quarter length work shows Albrecht in a magnificent suit of armour and with the Order of the Golden Fleece. He holds a commander's staff in his right hand in reference to his rank as a military commander.