The catalog is irreproachable, assessing that the work had been considered as autograph before being donated to the Met. The comparison with other known images of the same child is established. The condition report indicates that an inspection under ultraviolet light was performed and that the impastos are preserved.
Estimated between $ 20K and 30K, this oil on panel 36 x 26 cm was sold for $ 630K including premium.
It is no exaggeration to consider that the new owner has rescued a masterpiece. The painting has been cleared of an opaque varnish and of an unnecessary layer of green paint. Recovering all its brightness, it shows again the details of the smile that makes this girl so similar to her mother, and the slightly wet gaze in her confident pose for her beloved father. The dendrochronology confirms the hypothesis of an original piece.
In this image that was not commercial, Rubens brought a spontaneous and authentic intimacy. The psychological effect is very successful but the pale complexion of the sitter is perhaps a threat of illness. The hypothesis of a post mortem portrait is unlikely but not excluded.
Clara Serena was the eldest and only daughter from the three children of Peter Paul Rubens and his wife Isabella Brant. At that time the biography of children was not documented beyond baptism. A drawing of a young lady in waiting to Infanta Isabella is certainly a portrait of the same teenager. Rubens was since 1621 the official painter of the court of the Infanta. The exact date and the cause of Clara Serena's death in autumn 1623 are not known. Three years later in Antwerp the plague took away the mother.
This painting is estimated £ 3M for sale by Christie's in London on July 5, lot 7. Please watch the video shared by the auction house. The image is shared by Wikimedia.