Graphite on paper, 26 x 23 cm, signed lower right "J. Schonman[...] f 1840". A pasted-on label, contemporary with the drawing, carries the pen and ink inscription: "J.A. Baron Mulert/kadetkorporaal der artillerie/Page des Konings/1840" and the pencilled number "26". Price: £380
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Jacob Anne Baron Mulert
Tot de Leemcule (1819-
In 1840, the year the drawing was made, the 21-year-old Jacob Anne Baron Mulert Tot de Leemcule was one of a small group of young men of noble family retained as pages in the Royal Household of King Willem I of the Netherlands. Baron Mulert was descended, through his grandmother Adriana Petronella van Nassouw Woudenberg, from Maurice Prince of Nassau (1567-1625) and his mistress, Margareta van Mechelen.
Willem I's abdication took place in the year of the drawing, and Baron Mulert remained a royal page under the new monarch, Willem II, at least until 1844, subsequently pursuing a military career. He was to rise in the ranks to captain and then lieutenant-colonel of artillery. He married Maria Anna Adriana Josephine Elisabeth Baroness van Voorst Tot Voorst in 1860.
Jacob Anne Baron Mulert shared the intitials "J.A." with his father, Jacob Adriaan Baron Mulert.
After studying at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in the Austrian capital, the Viennese-born history painter Josef Schönmann went to Rome in 1832. He stayed there until the 1840s, his painting style strongly influenced by his encounter with Johann Friedrich Overbeck from the former Nazarene community. By 1848 he was back in Vienna as a member of the academy. He painted religious and mythological scenes (including frescoes) and portraits.
If the drawing was executed in Rome, Baron Mulert's presence in the city in 1840 may have been connected with William I's controversial plans to marry Henriette d'Oultremont, a Belgian and a Roman Catholic of non-royal birth. In order for the marriage to take place, dispensation had to be sought from the Holy See on Henriette's behalf. William abdicated on 7th October 1840 and married Henriette early in the following year.
The numbered label identifying the sitter suggests that the drawing may have been one of a series.
SOURCES AND FURTHER READING
Hans Klinger, Der Maler Josef Schönmann 1798-1879. Vienna: Pfarre Döbling-St. Paul, 1987
J. Schönmann, Erinnerungen an Italien. Vienna: 1879
's-Gravenhaagsche Stads Almanak voor het Jaar 1840. The Hague: J.Belinfante
Almanak voor de Provincie Noord-Braband, voor het Schrikkeljaar 1844. 's-Hertogenbosch: H. Palier en Zoon
"Inlichtingen op het adres van jhr. A. L. P. VAN DE SPIEGEL", in Handelingen der Staten-Generaal. Bijlagen. 1879-1880 [85. 3]
Nijmegen Adresboek 1868. Nijmegen: Blomhert en Timmerman, 1869
F.A. Hoefer, "Mededeelingen over Dalfsen" ("De Leemcule"), in Verslagen en Mededeelingen. Deventer Boek - en Steendrukkerij, 1912