Hendrik Frans Verbruggen

A design for a processional chariot

Hendrik Frans Verbruggen was born in Antwerp in 1654 in an artistic family. His father, Pieter I Verbruggen, was one of the foremost sculptors from the Flemish high baroque. (Pieter had married the daughter of his erstwhile master, Erasmus I Quellinus, who was himself the head of an important artistic dynasty.) Hendrik Frans’ brother Pieter (II) also became a sculptor, who worked in his father’s workshop. Hendrik Frans too was taught by his father, although is has been suggested that he was first apprenticed to Jan Ruyselinck, a painter of illustrated manuscripts. It is possible he, like his brother Pieter, went to Rome, although this has not been conclusively proven. (As has been pointed out, the influence of Italian contemporary sculptors – such as Bernini – on his work could have come by way of his brother’s drawings.)

Hendrik Frans Verbruggen became a master of the Antwerp guild of St Luke in 1682. He became dean of the guild in 1689. He taught several pupils, including Egidius Nijs and Marcus de Cock. Artistically, he was primarily involved in commissions for various churches and cathedrals, as the church remained a very important patron for many late-baroque sculptors and draughtsmen in the Southern Netherlands. Verbruggen designed and executed epitaphs, altar rails, pulpits and altars for churches in Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels and Ghent, to name but a few locations. Several designs by his hand have been preserved; many are now in the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp.

The present work, however, is not a study for church decorations, but a design for a processional chariot carrying a reliquary. The chariot, which the artist has drawn from all sides, stylistically bears a lot of resemblance to Verbruggen’s design for The Glory of the House of Austria, which he made for the Antwerp Ommegang (a yearly procession) of 1718 (for which he also designed another chariot, called De Maagdenberg). The present work could be a preparatory work for a third chariot designed by Verbruggen in that same procession; it has also however been suggested that it could be seen in the light of the preparations for the jubilee of the Sacrament of Miracle held in Brussels in 1720.

Artist: Hendrik Frans Verbruggen (Antwerp 1654 - 1726)
Medium: pen and brown ink on laid paper
Dimensions: 235 x 195 mm