|European Watercolors — The Château of Houdain from the Album de Croÿ of Charles, 4th Duc d’Arschot 1596-1598|
|The Château of Houdain from the Album de Croÿ of Charles, 4th Duc d’Arschot 1596-1598
The Album d'Authal, by Adrien de Montigny, Originally from the Collection of Charles de Croÿ
The Château of Houdain from the Album de Croÿ of Charles, 4th Duc d’Arschot 1596-1598
Medium: Illuminated manuscript on vellum
Dimensions: Parchment size: 20” x 15 ½”, Framed size: 26” x 20 ¾”
Created over four hundred years ago, this remarkable illuminated sheet is an extraordinarily important record of the architecture, topography and social history of Northern France and Belgium during the final years of the struggle against Philip II of Spain. Aesthetically, it is a monument in Northern Renaissance book illumination, unprecedented for the large size of the folio and the quality of the painting. The beautifully painted view is surrounded by lavish borders comprising a combination of fruits. The parchment sheet was originally part of the Albums de Croÿ, commissioned by the politically astute and erudite art collector, Charles de Croÿ. Adrien de Montigny, Charles’ court artist, compiled the Albums in an effort to record the many estates and land holdings of his patron. The artist explored and sketched every region under the Duke’s control, including each city, village, castle, abbey and convent. The expeditions were made primarily during the spring and summer seasons. During the winter Montigny worked in his studio, where he transformed his preliminary sketches into finished compositions on parchment. The medieval fortified château of Houdain is here depicted. The château was a square-plan fortress surrounded by a moat. To the left of the château was the farmyard and storage buildings and a small pond. The fruits depicted in the sumptuous border are most probably illustrative of the produce grown at the Houdain estate. Of this complex there remain only several vestiges today, mainly hidden by modern constructions.