Emerentia de la Kethulle, née van Ravenswaay (1593 – 1634)

Paulus Moreelse
1571 – 1638

Emerentia de la Kethulle, née van Ravenswaay (1593 – 1634)

Oil on panel: 47 1/2 x 34 3/4 inches, 121 x 88.5 cm



  • By family descent to the sitter’s daughter Johanna Barbara Walraven van Arkel of Ammersoyen, née de la Kethulle (1622 – 1686); thence by direct descent to
  • Baron Arthur de Woelmont (1826 – 1911), Castle Ammersoyen, then to Château d'Oplieux before 1868;[1]
  • Possibly lost in a gambling match to [2]
  • Thomas Humphry Ward (1845 – 1926), London;
  • with Thos. Agnews & Son, London from 1906 to 1909; bt. by
  • Walter Montgomerie Neilson Reid (1865 – 1933), Germains, Chesham, Buckinghamshire;
  • his sale Christie’s London, 16 November 1934, lot 149 (as ‘Portrait of Catharine Countess d’Arkel of Amerzode’; bt. by
  • Hugh Burton-Jones (1875? - 1945), Berkshire;
  • Presumably by descent to his daughter Kathleen Gifford-Scott (1906 – 1984?);
  • Sotheby’s London, 12 April 1978, lot 17 (as ‘Anne van Arkel Countess de Renesse’);[3]
  • with Frankham Gallery, Kent;
  • Private collection, England, until 2015.
  • [1] John Box, Chronicles from the Castle of Amelroy, London 1870. p. 45.
  • [2] Box mentions that Baron de Woelmont was a compulsive gambler (having lost Castle Ammersoyen in a bet), it seems more than coincidental that Humphry Ward also gambled valuable items, like paintings, to his considerable detriment.
  • [3] This lot was sold as ‘Property of a Lady’, presumably that of Kathleen Gifford-Scott.
  • [1] John Box, Chronicles from the Castle of Amelroy, London 1870. p. 45.
  • [2] Box mentions that Baron de Woelmont was a compulsive gambler (having lost Castle Ammersoyen in a bet), it seems more than coincidental that Humphry Ward also gambled valuable items, like paintings, to his considerable detriment.
  • [3] This lot was sold as ‘Property of a Lady’, presumably that of Kathleen Gifford-Scott.


  • Possibly Caroline Henriette de Jonge, Paulus Moreelse, 1938. p.29, Cat. No. 81. Illus. no. 66. Incorrect provenance – see factsheet.
  • Sotheby’s London Advert, from The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 120, no. 900 (Mar., 1978), p.xxix
  • F.G.L.O. van Kretschmar, Wat over de familieportretten van Ammersoyen achterhaald kon worden, from D.J.G. Buurman, ‘Ammersoyen: bijdragen tot de geschiedenis van het kasteel, de heerlijkheid en de heren van Ammersoyen,’ Zutphen 1986. p. 226, afb. 17.
  • Possibly J.C. Bierens de Haan, Meer voor Cieraet als Gebruijck. Tuingeschiedenis van Gelderse buitenplaatsen: Kunstbezit uit Gelderse Kastelen, Nijmegen Museum, Nijmegen 1990. p.154.
  • Eric Domela Nieuwenhuis, Paulus Moreelse (1571 – 1638), PhD Dissertation, Leiden University 2001. p. 459 – 460, no. 87. Catalogued as ‘location unknown.’

This magnificent portrait of a lady from one of North Brabant’s most noble families, the De la Kethulles, has recently resurfaced after nearly forty years in private hands. Her exquisitely rendered black and gold embroidered dress and finely observed anatomical features make this a veritable masterpiece from Moreelse’s oeuvre.

Her extraordinary costume, most notably the blooming farthingale skirt, with its shimmering gold thread and costly black silk, is of the highest fashion for the time. Moreelse revels in the detail, even revealing the embroidery behind the gauze of her lace collar and cuffs. She wears thick ropes of pearls at her neck and draped across her shoulders to her abdomen, as well as at her wrists. Pendant diamond earrings and a silk rosette pinned at her breast with a large diamond brooch are lavish emblems of her wealth. Considering the apparent expense of the garments and jewels worn, the sitter appears honestly proud and her gaze lacks any ostentation. The composition is elegantly highlighted with striking flourishes of red – the hint of a red velvet hair piece, red silk threads in her rosette, and of course, the red and white ostrich plume feather – another hugely costly accessory.

Emerentia van Ravenswaay was likely born in Utrecht, Moreelse’s own hometown, and married twice in her relatively short life. Daughter of Herman van Ravenswaay and Catharina Botter, she first married Abraham van Male, a Sheriff, in 1617. On his death in 1621 she remarried to Lodewijk (Louis) de la Kethulle (1565 – 1631), Lord of Ryhove and Governor of Bergen-op-Zoom. This portrait shows her four years into her second, presumably more advantageous, marriage; her husband was a loyal officer of Prince Maurice of Nassau who distinguished himself in many battles against the Spanish, particularly against the Marquess of Spinola at the fortified town of Bergen-op-Zoom in 1618, where he was subsequently appointed the Governorship by the Prince of Nassau after securing the sought-after stronghold. He died in 1631, making his wife a widow for the second time. Emerentia herself died only three years later at the young age of forty-one and was buried alongside her second husband in the Dutch Reformed St Gertrude’s Church in the Grand Palace of Bergen-op-Zoom (Noord-Brabant, Netherlands).[1]

Paulus Moreelse was one of the most eminent portrait painters in the city of Utrecht, receiving commissions from the great and the good across the Dutch Republic. He was a pupil of the Delft portrait painter Michiel Jansz. van Miereveld, whose influence can be seen in Moreelse’s keen attention to detail and realist approach to the portrayal of his sitters. Early in his career he also travelled to Italy, where he would have been exposed to and copied the Italian greats. By 1596 he was back in Utrecht and he became a member of the saddlers’ guild - a painters’ union - and in 1611, along with Abraham Bloemaert was a founder member of a new artists’ guild, the ‘St. Lucas-gilde’. Possibly Moreelse’s most famous student was Dirck van Baburen (1594/95 – 1624), a virtuosic member of the renowned Utrecht Caravaggisti. Moreelse was a dedicated citizen of Utrecht, he was active in the city’s politics and urban development; an accomplished architect, he was responsible for the design of several prominent buildings in his native Utrecht, including the Cathatijnepoort (1626, demolished c.1850) and the Vleeshuis on Voorstraat from 1637 (still extant). This portrait was painted at the height of the artist’s career; it executed in the same year as Portrait of a Man, probably from the Pauw Family (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam) and just before he began to concentrate on his architectural projects.

Several copies of this portrait are recorded which has led to some confusion as to its provenance during World War II, one of which was in the collection of Adolf Hitler at his museum in his hometown of Linz.[2] However, our portrait has had an unbroken provenance in England since the beginning of the 20th century when it was sold at Agnew’s in 1909.


[1] A grand marble monument commemorates the De la Kethulles within the church: http://drimble.nl/cultuur/bergen-op-zoom/325573.html


· Former Furhermuseum copy is now on loan to Castle Ammersoyen from the State Service for Cultural Heritage, Amersfoort, having been recovered by the Foundation for Dutch Art in 1945.

· Another copy was last sold at Sotheby’s New York in 1992, which had previously been handled by the Sedelmeyer Gallery, Paris in 1894 and thus bought by a Pennsylvania collector.

· The remaining copy was illustrated in John Box’s Chronicles from the Castle of Amelroy of 1870 and was sold in the Baron de Woelmont’s sale of 1878. Its current whereabouts are unknown.

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