Old Master Paintings, Drawings, and British Portraits


FRANÇOIA DUCHATEL (Brussels 1616/25 – Brussels 1679)

Charles V After his Abdication Embarking on a Ship Bound for Spain in the Port of Vlissingen, Zeeland

bears monogram D.T. F. (for David Teniers the Younger) in the lower left center

stenciled on the stretcher B179 and inscribed 1867 – 179

23 1/4 x 38 1/2 inches          (59 x 97.8 cm.)


Hyacinthe-François-Joseph, Comte Despinoy

M. le Lieutenant-Général Comte Despinoy sale, M. Trinquand & M. Ch. Roehn, Versailles, January 14 – 19 & February 4 – 9, 1850, lot 291 (as by David Teniers the Elder and describing the location as Wisbourg, Zeeland) where purchased by

Thomas Jefferson Bryan

Bryan Gallery of Christian Art, New York, by 1853, who donated it to

The New York Historical Society, New York, 1867 (inventory number1867: 179)

The Collection of Thomas J. Bryan, Property of the New York Historical Society sale, Parke Bernet, New York, December 2, 1971, lot 90, where purchased by

Private Collection, New Jersey, until 1989

Raymond W. Wagner Collection, New York and Provincetown, Massachusetts



Richard Grant White, Companion to the Bryan Gallery of Christian Art, Baker, Godwin & Co. Printers, 1853, p. 87, no. 145 (as by David Teniers the Younger and titled Charles V Leaving the Town of Dort)

Catalogue Museum and Gallery of Art of the New York Historical Society, printed for the Society, New York, p. 40, no. 355, 1893 (as by David Teniers the Younger and titled Charles V Leaving the Town of Dort)

Champlain & Perkins “David Teniers the Younger” in Encyclopedia of Painters and Paintings, Charles Scribner’s & Sons, 1900, Volume IV, p. 258, (as by David Teniers the Younger and titled Charles V Leaving Dort)

Catalogue of the Gallery of Art of the New York Historical Society, printed for the Society, New York, 1915, p. 79, no. B-179 (as by David Teniers the Younger and titled Charles V Leaving the Town of Dort)


This scene represents the departure of Charles V (1500-1558), the most powerful ruler in Europe at the time fromVlissingen, Zeeland [1] following the abdication of his sovereignty over the Netherlands in favor of his son Philip II (1527 -1598). The abdication ceremony took place on October 25, 1555 in Brussels. In Ghent on August 26, 1556, Charles gave a farewell audience to the foreign ambassadors and then rode to the coast where a fleet had convened to return him to Spain and retirement. His sisters Eleanor, Queen-Dowager of Portugal and Spain and Mary, Queen-Dowager of Hungary, Philip II, as well as many of the Netherlandish nobility were in attendance. [2]

The awaiting fleet consisted of fifty-six Spanish and Flemish vessels commanded by Don Luis de Carvajal. The vessel designated for the Emperor was a Biscayan ship of 565 tons named the Espirito Santo but more commonly referred to as the Bartendona after its commander. Charles’s cabin was fitted with green hangings, a swing bed with green curtains and eight glass windows (presumably the area of the bow visible under the royal coat-of-arms in the right background). His needs were attended to by thirty-six members of his household including Jean Poupet, Seigneur of Lachaulx, one of the sommeliers des corps, Malineus his Flemish reader and Gianello Torriano of Cremona (c. 1515-1585), [3] a leading Italian clockmaker, as well as the creator of one of the finest astronomical clocks of the Renaissance. [4]

For the first two weeks of September the winds proved unfavorable while the shores of Zeeland became clogged with merchant vessels hoping to set sail under the convoy of the imperial fleet. On the seventh of September word was sent to the Bishop of Arras [5] (viewable to the left of mid-center) to come to the coast. Finally at 3:00 a.m. on September 15, 1556 the fleet left Flanders. The general feeling of the deputies of the States and the members of the Council of State was that of deep regret and that their interests would have been better served had Charles remained to give council and guidance to Philip. Charles who had suffered crippling gout and other infirmities from a relatively early age was by mid-life all but immobile (mid-center, as depicted here in armour, but leaning on a cane). His departure was viewed as “mere will and pleasure on the King’s part”. [6] This attitude is neatly summed up by the expressions portrayed on the faces of the spectators which in turn display emotions of hostility, resignation, mistrust, suspicion, resentment, hauteur, and worry.

Charles’s continued popularity, especially in the Southern Netherlands, may be explained as a reaction to the civil war that occurred shortly after his abdication and death that resulted in the seventeen provinces being divided into the Dutch republic and the Spanish Netherlands. His reign came to be regarded as a golden age. [7]

The subject of our painting is uncommon and the separation of the scene into two time periods is evident by the sixteenth century dress of Charles V, the Bishop of Arras and their attendants, in contrast to the seventeenth century dress of the guildsmen who must have commissioned the work. They are members of the Arquebusiers Guild, identifiable by the gold insignia a number of them wear on their sleeves. 

We were able to confirm the artist of this work as François Duchatel due to the existence of another version in the Abbey of Averbode in Belgium. It is identical in subject and size and also unsigned, but without question by

Duchatel as he is documented as having worked for the Abbey in 1655. [8] Very few works by the artist are signed and only several others fully documented. The painting in the abbey is currently labeled A Norbertin Abbot’s Disembarkment in Antwerp before a Magistrate of the City [9] and had previously been titled The Reception of Saint Norbertus by the City of Antwerp. Given our findings neither of these seem to be plausible. 

Duchatel was known as a painter of historical and religious subjects, portraits, and genre. He left a military career at twenty-seven to become a painter, and was a student of David Teniers the Younger and Gaspar de Crayer. In 1649 he married Leanne Louys and had seven children. His sister was the miniaturist Marie Duchatel. His eldest daughter married the Dutch painter Eglon Henry van der Neer. He worked in Paris in 1668 with Adam Frans van der Meulen. Duchatel’s works are often wrongly attributed to Gillis van Tilborgh, Charles E. Biset, Jacob van Oost, and Gonzales Coques. Jon Baptist Medina was Duchatel’s student. [10]

We are indebted to Katlijne Van der Stighelen for her research and assistance in the writing of this entry.



[1] Vlissingen is a municipality and city in the southwestern Netherlands on the former island of Walcheren in the province of Zeeland. It is strategically positioned between the Scheldt river and the North Sea, and has been an important harbour for centuries. The exact point of departure is believed to be what today is called West-Souburg a village within the Vlissingen municipality. Stirling-Maxwell (see footnote 2) refers to the site as historically called Zuitburg but notes that this is suppose to be the village then called Wester-Souburg. The labeling of the site in the 1850 auction of Count Despinoy as Wisbourg, Zeeland gives further credence to this as the location.

[2] Sir Wm. Stirling-Maxwell Baronet, The Cloister Life of the Emperor Charles V: The Works of Sir Wm. Stirling- Maxwell Baronet, volume V, London, 1891 pp. 26-27,29,32, 36.

[3] Ibid, pp. 36, 499, 517.

[4] Charles’s greatest source of amusement came from his clocks. Gianello followed the Emperor to his retirement at the convent of San Yuste and devoted his time to the creation of automata such as miniature soldiers that marched, rode, beat drums, blew trumpets and fought wars or wooden birds that could fly. The one work that survives attributed to Gianello is an automaton of a female lute player now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. (see Silvio A. Bedini, “ The Role of Automata in the History of Technology”, in Technology and Culture, volume 5, no. 1, Winter, 1964, p.32.

[5] Antonine Perrenot de Granvelle (1517-1586) became the Bishop of Arras in 1540 at the age of twenty-three, and in 1550 succeeded his father Nicolas Perrenot de Granvelle (1484-1550) as Secretary of State to Charles V. He developed a skill at diplomacy and was responsible for the negotiations of the marriage between Mary I of England and Philip II. Upon the abdication of Charles he transferred his services to Philip and worked in the Netherlands. He is identifiable by his mitre, staff, and robe as well as from known portraits by Titian in The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, and Antonis Mor, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

[6] Stirling-Maxwell, pp. 515-517.

[7] Peter Burke, “Presenting and Representing Charles V and the Mythification of the Emperor” in Charles V 1500- 1558 and his Time, ed. Hugo Soly, Mercatafords, Antwerp, 1999, pp. 455-456, 468-469.

[8] J. de Maere & M. Wabbes, “François Duchatel” in Illustrated Dictionary of 17th Century Flemish Painters, La Renaissance du Livre, Brussels, 1994, p. 134.

[9] Bernadette Bodson, “François Duchatel” in Les Dictionnaire des Peintres Belges, La Renaissance du Livre, Brussels, 1995, p. 400.

[10] Biographical information taken from J. de Maere & M. Wabbes, as well as Bernadette Bodson, see footnotes 8 & 9.

Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts

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