John Churchill, First Duke of Marlborough is seen just left of centre in this painting, wearing the bright blue Ribbon of the Garter and seated on a chestnut coloured horse. Marlborough appears to be discussing the battle with the figure to his left, thought to represent Lieutenant-General Cadogan, Quarter Master General.
Fought as part of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14), the Battle of Blenheim took place on 13 August 1704, when Marlborough, with Prince Eugène, led the combined English, Dutch, and German forces. The battle began with a surprise attack near the village of Blenheim, on the banks of the River Danube, in Bavaria.
The Duke of Marlborough visited Antwerp after its surrender to the allied army in 1706. Whilst there, he was impressed by the work of local artist Balthasar van den Bossche (1681-1715) and commissioned him to paint a battle scene, which would include his own portrait. Bossche engaged Pieter van Bloemen, a celebrated horse-artist, to work with him on the painting. This work is apparently a later version of Bossche’s original painting, painted by van Bloemen alone.
Pieter van Bloemen, painter and engraver, was born in Antwerp. As a young man he followed his brother, landscape painter Jan Frans van Bloemen, to Italy, where he stayed for a number of years, making studies of classical architecture and sculpture. While Jan Frans remained in Italy for the rest of his life, Pieter returned to Antwerp with the studies he had made. The paintings he made after his return, generally represented battle scenes or other scenes incorporating figures and animals, particularly horses. Some included the ruins of architecture or antique sculpture taken from the studies made in Rome. Bloemen also made etchings after his own works. In 1699, he became Director of the Academy in Antwerp. He died in the city in 1719.
The Duke of Marlborough and the Earl of Cadogan at Blenheim (Hochstadt)
Oil on canvas
height: 170.50 cm, width: 207.00 cm
Purchased from Sotheby's via Leggatt Bros, 24 June 1959
bl: P Blommen [?] / 1714 / [in later hand:] The Battle of Hocksted 1704
Collection of Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster (1879-1953); by whose executors sold through Sotheby's, London, 'Important Old Master Paintings' sale, on 24 June 1959 (Lot 3), as 'The Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene at the Battle of Hochstedt'; from which sale purchased by Leggatt Bros. on behalf of the Ministry of Works
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