31 October 2017
Giusto Suttermans (Antwerp 1597-1681 Florence)
Giovan Carlo di Cosimo II de Medici (1611-1663), in armor and a red sash, bust-length
oil on canvas
27 ½ x 21 1/8 in. (69.9 x 53.5 cm.)
with Sabin's Gallery, London, by 1934, as 'J. Sustermans'; Christie's, London, 16 July 1954, lot 97, as 'J. Sustermans' (280 gns. to Leger).
Acquired by the grandfather or father of the present owner, and by descent.
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K. Langedijk, The Portraits of the Medici, 15th-18th Centuries, Florence, 1983, II, p. 953, no. 47,22, illustrated, as 'Sustermans, workshop'.
Giovan Carlo di Cosimo II was the second son of Grand Duke Cosimo II (1590-1621). In 1620 he joined the Sovereign Military Order of Malta as Grand Prior of Pisa and was subsequently named General of the Spanish Seas in 1638. He was compelled to retire from his military career upon his nomination as a cardinal by Pope Innocent X (1574-1655) on 14 November 1644. His close 'friendship' with Queen Cristina of Sweden caused the pope to send him away from Rome in 1655. A connoisseur of the arts with refined tastes, Giovan Carlo acquired a great number of works of art, which were sold after his death to cover his debts.
The Flemish-born Suttermans probably arrived in Florence in 1620 and shortly thereafter began working as court painter to the Medici, whom he would serve for the remainder of his life. Around a dozen portraits of Giovan Carlo di Cosimo II by Suttermans and his workshop are known, this being the only version of the present composition (op. cit., pp. 948-55, nos. 14-25).
We are grateful to Dr. Lisa Goldenberg Stoppato (written communication, 22 August 2017) for confirming the attribution on the basis of a photograph and for suggesting that the portrait was probably painted shortly before the pope raised the sitter to the cardinalate in 1644.
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