Simon de Vos
(1603 - Antwerp - 1676)
A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Oil on Panel, 29 x 22 cm
Signed S. Vos Fecit
Collection of Antenor Patiňo (1894-1982) Paris;
Pieter de Boer, Amsterdam, by 1954;
Sale, Christies, 6th June 1974, lot 154;
With Brian Koetser Gallery, London, by 1975;
Douwes Fine Art, Amsterdam;
C.P.A. & G.R Castendijk, Rotterdam;
Private collection, Germany
Simon de Vos began his career as a pupil of Cornelis de Vos to whom he was not related. In 1620, at a remarkably early age, he was elected a member of the Guild in Antwerp. He subsequently moved to the studio of Peter Paul Rubens and here collaborated on numerous commissions that the great master had received. He was highly regarded in his day and was painted by van Dyck in the series of grisaille portraits of the most eminent men in his time. These were subsequently engraved by Paul Pontius.
Simon de Vos was regarded by no less an eminent judge of painting, namely Sir Joshua Reynolds, as one of the finest painters and draughtsmen of his time and to a certain extent he was right. De Vos's draughtsmanship is always acute and extremely accurate and his colour palette is bright and vibrant. He executed numerous important religious commissions, notably 'The Resurrection' for the Cathedral in Antwerp, 'The Descent from The Cross' for the Church of Saint-André and 'Saint Norbert receiving the Sacrements for the Abbey of Saint-Michel'. As a painter of genre and portrait subjects he had a certain sense of vitality and humour. There is an evident influence from the works of David Teniers in this aspect. It seems he spent his entire life in Antwerp and is know to have been the master of Jan van Kessel I.
This highly unusual painting of a spaniel that is probably a portrait of a favourite dog, was often reused and appeared in other more typical paintings by de Vos. Notably in his 'Music making Company' which is in the Schottenstift, Vienna, and 'Elegant Company Dining at a Richly Laden Table in a Garden' that was sold at Phillips, London in December 1997. It is the immediacy of the image and its unfamiliar subject that instantly sets this painting apart from his usual work.