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Ritratto equestre di Emanuele Filiberto I, Duca di Savoia (Chambéry, 1528 – Torino, 1580)

Jan Kraeck (Haarlem 1540 circa – Torino 1607) Bottega di

Jan Kraeck, in Italy Giovanni Caracca
(Haarlem c. 1540 - Turin 1607)
Workshop of

Equestrian portrait of Emanuele Filiberto I, Duke of Savoy (Chambéry, 1528 - Turin, 1580)

Oil on canvas
148 × 122 cm - Framed 165 × 139 cm

The work is also accompanied by an expert's report by Dr. Arabella Cifani, which traces it to a pupil of the master, Giulio Maino (1570 - after 1643)
D23-051 Sold Request information

The sitter in this fascinating equestrian portrait is Emanuele Filiberto I, Duke of Savoy (Chambéry, 1528 - Turin, 1580), immortalised as an adult, proudly intent on steering his rearing horse, in his sumptuous ceremonial armour adorned with finely chiselled bands on a gold background. He wears short hair, a pointed beard and moustache, with a broad ruff encircling his neck.

The first of his name in the dynasty, known as the 'Iron Head' for his uncommon temperament, he was a star of the first magnitude in the national history of the 16th century. A nephew, through his mother Beatrice of Portugal, of his uncle-in-law Charles V of Habsburg, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Emanuel Philibert I made his first experiences in the service of the latter, later inheriting the Duchy of Savoy on the death of his father Charles II (1553). In foreign policy, while remaining a faithful ally of the Habsburgs of Spain, to whom he was linked through his mother, he managed to establish excellent diplomatic relations with Switzerland and France (he married Margaret of Valois, daughter of the French king François I).

He protected men of letters and artists, following a direction shared and extended by his son Carlo Emanuele. Torquato Tasso addressed the Duke as the most valiant and glorious Prince of Italy, offering him his services, and dedicated a sonnet to his young son Charles Emmanuel, on whose head he presaged victorious crowns.

The handsome portrait we present here stands out for the pose of our lusty knight, symbolically sprinting on the back of his steed towards warlike exploits, while holding the canonical staff of command.

The armour, in its sumptuousness and richness, recalls those in use at the Spanish court and with the Habsburgs, as shown by the portraits by artists working for Spanish kings between the 16th and 17th centuries: Titian's famous Charles V on Horseback (1548, Prado Museum), the Equestrian Portrait of Charles V of Habsburg (c. 1620, Uffizi, Florence) and the Portrait of Charles I of England (1640, Prado Museum), both of the latter by Van Dyck, with a type of portrait that glorified and emphasised the strength and magnificence of the immortalised ruler.

The work is undoubtedly by an artist/collaborator from the workshop of the Flemish painter Jan Kraeck (Haarlem 1540 - Turin 1607), known by the Italianised name of Giovanni Caracca, who was mainly active as a painter at the Savoy court, working both in the service of Emanuele Filiberto I and for his son Carlo Emanuele I of Savoy between 1568 and 1607, and engaged in the most important works promoted by the dynasty.

During his stay at the Savoy court, Caracca produced numerous portraits, and in particular we must mention the series dedicated to the depiction of the entire genealogy of the Counts and later Dukes of Savoy, commissioned at the beginning of the 17th century by Charles Emmanuel I for his Grand Gallery (which united the Castle and the Ducal Palace), which were however destroyed by fire in 1659.

The equestrian portrait of Charles Emmanuel I, in particular, was in fact replicated by Caracca and his workshop on several occasions, one of which was for the Great Gallery, for which he also painted the image of his father Emmanuel Philibert I. This series of canvases, with portraits strictly on horseback, as Caracca himself had designed, was initially intended to appear above the wardrobe cupboards, with the effigies standing out majestically from the top of the great corridor.

Our painter's portrait production was strongly influenced by his encounter with the artists working at the Spanish court in 1585, on the occasion of the wedding between Charles Emmanuel I and the Enfanta of Spain, Catherine Michela, daughter of Philip II. His encounter with the portrait painters at the Spanish court oriented his production, initially based only on the model of late 16th century French portraiture, towards the canons of the 'International Court Portrait' with a focus on the painting of Alonso Sanchez Coello and Antonio Moro.


The painting is sold complete with an attractive antique gilded frame and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity and descriptive iconographic card.

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