Watercolour with gouache on vellum

21 x 26cm



Private Collection, Paris



Richard van Orley painted numerous such scenes from classical literature, ranging from Ovid's Metamorphoses to the Aeneid, the Odyssey to the Iliad (and beyond). He also rendered numerous scenes from the New Testament and lives of the Saints in similar technicolour gouache or watercolour on vellum. Such works were very popular with collectors, who prized these so-called miniatures for their detail and vivid colouring.



Richard van Orley was born in Brussels and, at first, trained with his father Pieter (called Siret), who was a landscape artist and a miniaturist, adept at working in watercolour and the media his son would go on to prefer. Richard's brother Jan van Orley was a prominent Brussels-based tapestry designer, and the family traced its lineage back to Bernard van Orley (1488-1541), the renowned landscape painter. 


Historians believed that Richard spent time in Italy, as he left a series of drawings showing the development of Rome (now housed in the Royal Library of Belgium, Brussels). He spent the majority of his career in Brussels, though he was probably based in Düsseldorf between 1701-1702, where he worked for Anna Maria Luisa de'Medici - the last lineal descendent of the House of Medici. Copies by the artist after Netherlandish artists (in particular after Adriaen van der Werff) were given by Anna to her brother and ended op in the Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti ), Florence.