Five copies of Van Dyck Apostles are first recorded in the collections of the Museum in Besançon in South-East France in 1799. Perhaps they were loot from the French First Republic’s annexation of the Low Countries in 1794. On the back of Paul we discovered, after much searching in raking light, a previously unrecorded panel maker’s punch mark – SG
Research has identified the mark as being that of Sanctus Gabron, the younger brother of the better known and well recorded panel maker, Guilliam Gabron. Sanctus Gabron is recorded as a frame maker and a son of a Master of the Guild of St. Luke in the year 1615-16 and as a panel maker and Master himself in the Guild register for the year 1617-18. Further research in the archives will determine the years that Sanctus Gabron worked. The tree that was used by Gabron to make the panel was felled between 1610 and 1620 according to our dendrochronologist. The Guild of St Luke brand mark, also on the reverse of the panel, was in use between 1618 and 1626. All this points to Paul (below) being a copy painted around the same time or soon after Van Dyck painted the originals during his first Antwerp period up to his departure for Italy in 1621.