Anthony van Dyck

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Anthony van Dyck

Self Portrait, c. 1621
born March 22, 1599, Antwerp
died Dec. 9, 1641, London

Van Dyck also spelled Vandyke , Flemish Anthonie Van Dyck , Anthonie also spelled Antonie , or Anton after Rubens, the most prominent Flemish painter of the 17th century. A prolific painter of portraits of European aristocracy, he also executed many works on religious and mythological subjects and was a fine draftsman and etcher. Appointed court painter by Charles I of England in 1632, he was knighted the same year.

Background and early years

Van Dyck was the seventh of 12 children of Frans van Dyck, a well-to-do silk merchant. At the age of 10, he was apprenticed to Hendrik van Balen, a successful Antwerp painter, and he must soon have come under the influence of Rubens, who after 1608 assumed undisputed leadership of art in Antwerp.

Van Dyck's first surviving work, the portrait of a man, is dated 1613; a self-portrait could not have been done much later. In the figural compositions of the first eight years of his career, he obviously emulated Rubens' melodramatic style, though, instead of using Rubens' technique of enamel-like glazes, he painted directly and with a rather coarse texture. His colour scale is darker and warmer than Rubens'; his lights and shades are more abrupt; and his figures are more angular in their gestures and less harmoniously proportioned. He exaggerated the expression of his figures, from the fierce fanaticism or feverish ecstasy of saints and the brutality of executioners to the voluptuous smiles of satyrs and the drunken stupor of Silenus, companion to Dionysus, the god of wine.

The Belgian patricians and their wives that he painted duringhis early years generally are rendered in bust or knee length;their hands hold gloves or other articles or fall idly over the back or armrest of a chair. His earliest portraits had neutral backgrounds, but under Rubens' influence he introduced props such as columns to enrich the setting. With consummate skill he rendered details of costume and decor. His portraits, always convincing as likenesses, show the models as calm and dignified. Their expressions are guardedrather than warm.

Van Dyck was precocious. When only 18, he acted as family representative in a lawsuit; before he was 19, his father declared him legally of age. In February 1618 he was inscribed as master in the Antwerp guild. It is uncertain when he entered the studio of Rubens, but on July 17, 1620, a correspondent of Thomas Howard, earl of Arundel, reported that “Van Dyck is still staying with Rubens and his works begin to be appreciated as much as those of his master.” In March 1620 Rubens used the assistance of “Van Dyck and some other disciples.” In view of Van Dyck's fully developed personal style in these years, however, it is probably more accurate to call him Rubens' collaborator rather than his pupil.

Although the relationship between Rubens and Van Dyck became strained after 1630, there is no evidence that Rubens tried to hamper the career of the young rival. He probably helped him with recommendations on his first trip to England (November 1620 to February 1621), where Rubens' admirer the Earl of Arundel was also Van Dyck's protector.


Career in Antwerp and Italy

Apparently unwilling to remain at the court of King James I, despite an annual salary of £100, Van Dyck returned to Antwerp and in October 1621 set out for Italy. There, too, Rubens' recommendations paved his way. His first goal was Genoa, where he was immediately patronized by the same group of aristocratic families for whom Rubens had been active 14 years earlier.

Genoa remained Van Dyck's headquarters, but he is known to have visited Rome, Venice, Padua, Mantua, Milan, and Turin. In 1624 he visited Palermo, where he painted the Spanish viceroy Emanuel Philibert of Savoy. Although everywhere employed with commissions, Van Dyck used the opportunity of his Italian years to study the works of the great Italian painters. A sketchbook in the British Museum testifies to his attraction to the Venetian masters, above all, Titian. He made many rapid sketches of their compositions, occasionally adding notes about colour and spontaneous words of praise. The few figural compositions of Van Dyck's years in Italy betray a trend toward colouristic and expressive refinement under the influence of the Venetian school. Recollections of Rubens and of Bolognese masters may be seen in his most accomplished religious work done in Italy, the “Madonna of the Rosary.” The Italian portraits, many in full length, stress grandeur and aristocratic refinement. There, he also did his first equestrian portraits. While in earlier portraits the sitters generally look at the beholder, now they often are turned away as if concerned with weightier matters. Some of his Genovese ladies, portrayed in glitter and silk, have a condescending look. In July 1627 Van Dyck was again in Antwerp, where he remained until 1632. The frequent absence of Rubens between 1626, when he entered the diplomatic service, and 1630 on foreign missions may have induced many patrons to turn to Van Dyck. He received numerous commissions for altarpieces and for portraits, which forced him to employ assistants. During this period Van Dyck also began to make small monochrome portraits in oil and drawings in chalk of princes, soldiers, scholars, art patrons, and, especially, of fellow artists, with the view of having them engraved and published. At least 15 of these portraits were etched by Van Dyck himself. The others were engraved. The series, popularly known as Van Dyck's Iconography, was first published in 1645–46.

The tendencies first manifested in works done in Italy carry over into the five years Van Dyck now spent in Antwerp. He and his patrons appear to have realized that his talent was suited better to themes involving tender emotion than to themes of violent action. The happiest works of that period show the Virgin as the affectionate mother with the infant Jesus in her arms or as the Mater Dolorosa in lamentation scenes; equally appealing are pictures showing saints in religious transport. In memory of his father, Van Dyck in 1629 painted the crucified Christ with St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena, one of his noblest works and a prime example of the spiritual intensity fostered by the Counter-Reformation. Some of Van Dyck's most enchanting stories from mythology or fable were done during these years. His manner of painting was now quite economical. The pigments were put on thinly, in delicate combinations of blue, gray, pink, ochre, and sienna. The emphasis is on mellowness, in colour and tone. Although he continued to give an almost sensuous appeal to textures, such as silk, hair, and human skin, his paintings became increasingly cooland artificial. In this period, bust- and half-length figures were again in the majority, as they had been during his first years in Antwerp. Among his models were many members of the great princely houses of Europe, but some of the finest pictures are of collectors and art patrons, as well as scholars, churchmen, and a great many Antwerp artists. To this group should be added portraits done during his visit to the Continent in 1634–35, among them one of the Abbé Scaglia, the skillful diplomat, for whom Van Dyck also painted one of his last religious pictures, a lamentation (Antwerp). In these portraits a new predilection for rhetorical poses is noticeable. With agile hands, some figures seem to address an audience, in keeping with a Baroque taste in portraiture.

Last years in England

After a brief trip to Holland in February 1632, Van Dyck again went to England, where he became highly successful. King Charles I appointed him “principalle Paynter in ordinary of their Majesties” and knighted him. He gave him a golden chain and settled upon him an annual salary of £200 sterling. Yet, in March 1634 Van Dyck returned once again to Antwerp, ostensibly to settle matters connected with his family estate but probably also to establish contacts with the new Spanish governor expected in the fall of that year. The Antwerp guild of artists appointed him “honorary dean,” a title that had been bestowed before only on Rubens. In 1635 Van Dyck was again in England, after about a year's absence.

He lived in Black friars in London, outside the jurisdiction of the local guild, where Charles I liked to visit him. During the summer Van Dyck was given a place in Eltham Castle, Kent. His work now consisted almost exclusively of painting portraits, and they are his most popular.

The visual image of English society prior to the revolution of 1648 has forever been shaped by Van Dyck. Charles I himself was frequently portrayed by the master and nowhere perhaps more revealingly than in a beautiful canvas in Paris in which he appears “as he would have wished to live in history: a figure of matchless elegance, of unquestioned authority and high culture, the patron of the arts, and the upholder of the divine right of kings” (E.H. Gombrich, The Story of Art, 1950). A portrait showing three views of the King was made to serve for a bust to be made by Gian Lorenzo Bernini; the sculpture perished, however, in 1697.

As in his Italian portraits, full-length renderings prevail, but his English patrons seem more rigid and, as a rule, more prosaic than their Latin counterparts. An unusual feature, reflecting a literary vogue, is allegorical attributes and mythological disguises. Ladies often are pictured with roses or holding a hand under water running from an urn. Portraying himself with a sunflower, Van Dyck expresses emblematically his devotion to the King.

Van Dyck's gift for combining formality and casualness shows up particularly well in portrait commissions involving groups of people. To his last decade belong a little-known picture of of the family of John, count of Nassau-Siegen, and the largest of all his extant paintings (more than 19 feet [580centimetres] wide), of the family of Philip Herbert, earl of Pembroke. In his several versions of the children of Charles I,among other pictures, he gives to his models all their youthful innocence no matter how gravely dignified their pose.

Van Dyck organized his portrait painting in an efficient manner designed also to increase his prestige. He gave hourly appointments to his sitters, leaving the execution of accessories to his assistants. While the King paid slowly and at times was even forced to reduce the artist's demands, Van Dyck derived a comfortable income from his many portraits. His life matched in luxury that of his clients. In 1639 he married Mary Ruthven, by whom he had one daughter.

He must have realized, however, that the political fortunes of the Stuart monarchy were declining. He had failed in an ambitious plan to decorate the Banqueting House at Whitehall with a “Procession of the Knights of the Garter” in tapestry, and in September 1640 he again left England, induced possibly by the hope of taking the place of Rubens, who had died in May. In nervous haste he went from Antwerp to Paris, thence back to London, and again to Paris. At the end of November 1641 he returned to London, sick and having failed in his projects. He died shortly thereafter and was buried in St. Paul's.


Van Dyck was a handsome man, but his features lacked strength, and he was rather short. Although socially ambitious, he remained devoted to the members of his family and on cordial terms with fellow artists. His manners were suave and ingratiating. According to legend, he inclined to licentiousness and extravagance, but the evidence is inconclusive. Whatever the faults of his character, he certainly was never idle. Only by combining facility of execution with great industry could a man who died at the age of 42 have painted a body of work as large as his. Five hundred of his portraits, apart from many copies from his own hand, are extant.

Van Dyck's influence was pervasive and lasting. Many of the younger Flemish painters owe more to him than to Rubens. Dutch and German portraitists, especially those active in London, among them Sir Peter Lely and Sir Godfrey Kneller, continued his manner, as did several native Englishmen. The style of the great 18th-century English portrait painters, especially that of Thomas Gainsborough, was deeply indebted to Van Dyck, and Spanish painters, who appear to have known Van Dyck's works mainly from engravings, imitated and occasionally even copied the religious compositions of the Flemish artist.

The enduring fame of Van Dyck rests on his portraits. Whether he painted the patricians and artists of Antwerp, the nobles of Genoa, or the court of Charles I, Van Dyck succeeded in idealizing his models without sacrificing any of their individuality. He adopted patterns of portraiture that had been formulated before, chiefly by Hans Holbein, Antonio Moro, Titian, and Rubens, but he invented innumerable variations, never losing sight of the fundamental necessity to retain an impeccable formality no matter how exact the likeness. His reputation was always high, but, whereas formerly the works of his last period were most admired, those of his youth and of his Genovese period have been favoured in the 20th century for their freshness and spontaneity. The interest of scholars and collectors has also turned increasingly toward works neglected before, such as the artist's oil sketches and his many drawings and watercolours, including some of his sensitive studies of landscapes.

Julius S. Held

Encyclopaedia Britannica


Portrait of a Man in Armour with Red Scarf
Oil on canvas, 90 x 70 cm
Gemäldegalerie, Dresden

Portrait of a Member of the Balbi Family
c. 1625
Oil on canvas, 132,7 x 120 cm
Art Museum, Cincinnati

Portrait of Nicolaes van der Borght
Oil on canvas, 201 x 141 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Isabella Brandt
c. 1621
Oil on canvas
National Gallery of Art, Washington

Portrait of Cardinal Guido Bentivoglio
c. 1625
Oil on canvas, 195 x 147 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

Portrait of Virginio Cesarini
Oil on canvas, 105 x 86 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg


Charles I with M. de St Antoine

Charles I with M. de St Antoine is an Flemish oil painting on canvas by Anthony van Dyck, depicting Charles I on horseback, accompanied by his riding master, Pierre Antoine Bourdon, Seigneur de St Antoine.

Charles I had become King of Great Britain and Ireland in 1625 on the death of his father James I, and Van Dyck became the Charles' Principal Painter in Ordinary in 1632. This portrait is thought to have been painted in about 1633, and was the first equestrian portrait of Charles to be painted by Van Dyck.
Charles is depicted as a chivalrous knight and sovereign. He rides a large and heavily muscled white horse - possibly a Lipizzaner - under a neoclassical triumphal arch, from which fall hangings of green silk. He is clad in parade armour with the blue sash of the Order of the Garter and carries a baton of military command. Charles is depicted almost alone, perhaps alluding to the period of his personal rule without Parliament, and is viewed from below, as in Van Dyck's 1635 painting Charles I at the Hunt. To the right stands his riding master, Pierre Antoine Bourdon, Seigneur de St Antoine (possibly a ribbon around his neck, possibly of the Order of Saint Lazarus) who looks up at the king while holding his helmet.
  A large Royal coat of arms of the House of Stuart stands to the lower left of the painting (of four quarters, first and fourth, the fleur de lys of France quartering the three lions of England, second the double tressured lion of Scotland, and third the harp of Ireland), surmounted by a large crown.

The painting measures 368.4 centimetres (145.0 in) by 269.9 centimetres (106.3 in) and may have been intended as a theatrical tromp l'oeil flourish for the end of the King's gallery at St James's Palace.

It was included in the auction of the Royal Collection following the execution of Charles I, valued at £150, and sold to "Pope" on 22 December 1652. It returned to the Royal Collection of Charles II in 1660, and is usually displayed at Windsor Castle.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Portrait by Anthony van Dyck, 1636
Charles I with M. de St Antoine


"Charles I at the Hunt"

Charles I at the Hunt - also known under its French title, Le Roi à la chasse - is an oil-on-canvas portrait of Charles I of England by Van Dyck Anthony c.1635.

It depicts Charles dressed in civilian clothing and standing next to a horse as if resting on a hunt, in a manner described by the Louvre as a "subtle compromise between gentlemanly nonchalance and regal assurance".
Van Dyck gave his naturalistic style full expression: "Charles is given a totally natural look of instinctive sovereignty, in a deliberately informal setting where he strolls so negligently that that he seems at first glance nature's gentleman rather than England's King". The 105 centimetres (41 in) by 76 centimetres (30 in) painting depicts Charles in lighter colours to the left of the painting, standing out against the darker ground and the shadowed servants and horse under a tree to the right; his dark hat prevents his face from appearing washed out by the sky. He stands dismounted, as if surveying his domain and the sea beyond (perhaps the Solent with the Isle of Wight visible in the distance), but with his head turned to give a slight disdainful smile towards the viewer. Charles was famously sensitive about his short stature, and the painting looks up towards the king from a low viewpoint. His kingship is proclaimed by a Latin inscription on a rock in the lower right corner, which reads "Carolus.I.REX Magnae Britanniae" (Charles I, King of Great Britain - a political statement at the time, only 32 years after his father James had united the crowns of Scotland and England, and proclaimed himself King of Great Britain, and nearly 70 years before the Acts of Union legally created the Kingdom of Great Britain).
  Charles is dressed as an aristocratic gentleman in a wide-brimmed Cavalier hat, teardrop earring, shimmering silver satin doublet, red breeches, and turned-down leather boots, apparently resting during a day of hunting. He is girt with a sword, with one hand resting nonchalantly on a walking stick; the other rests on his hip, holding his gloves as a sign of his sovereignty and assurance. The painting also shows a young page and Charles' picture-buying agent and favoured courtier, Endymion Porter, who is holding the horse. The horse seemingly bows its head in submission to the king.

In his three years as Principal Painter in Ordinary, Van Dyck had already made two other equestrian portraits of Charles in armour: Charles I with M. de St Antoine depicting Charles accompanied by his riding master, Pierre Antoine Bourdon, Seigneur de St Antoine; and Equestrian Portrait of Charles I depicting Charles as a heroic philosopher king, contemplatively surveying his domain.

Charles paid van Dyck £100 for the painting in 1638 - although the artist originally requested £200 - but it is not mentioned in the inventory of his collections after his execution. It was in France by 1738, and the Comtesse du Barry sold the painting to Louis XVI of France in 1775. It is now held at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Charles I, King of England at the Hunt
c. 1635
Oil on canvas, 266 x 207 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Charles I on Horseback
c. 1635
Oil on canvas, 365 x 289 cm
National Gallery, London


The Equestrian Portrait of Charles I

The Equestrian Portrait of Charles I (also known as Charles I on Horseback) is an oil painting on canvas by Anthony van Dyck, showing Charles I on horseback.

Charles I had become King of Great Britain and Ireland in 1625 on the death of his father James I, and Van Dyck became the Charles' Principal Painter in Ordinary in 1632. This portrait is thought to have been painted in about 1637–38, only a few years before the English Civil War broke out in 1642. It is one of many portraits of Charles by Van Dyck, including several equestrian portraits. It is held by the National Gallery in London.
This is the second equestrian portrait of Charles to be painted by Van Dyck. Charles is depicted wearing the same suit of armour, riding a heavily-muscled dun horse with peculiarly small head. To the right, a page proffers a helmet. Charles appears as a heroic philosopher king, contemplatively surveying his domain, carrying a baton of command, with a long sword to his side, and wearing the medallion of the Sovereign of the Order of the Garter. His melancholy, distant expression was seen as a sign of wisdom. He wears the same suit of tilt armour in both equestrian paintings (although the last Royal tilt had been held in 1616, and another proposed in 1622 had been abandoned due to bad weather). A tablet tied to a branch reads "CAROLUS I REX MAGNAE BRITANIAE" (Charles I King of Great Britain) - a political statement at the time, only 33 years after James had united the crowns of Scotland and England, and proclaimed himself King of Great Britain, and nearly 70 years before the Acts of Union legally created the Kingdom of Great Britain.
An earlier equestrian portrait, Charles I with M. de St Antoine, c. 1633, depicts Charles under a Roman triumphal arch, clad in armour and accompanied by his riding master, Pierre Antoine Bourdon, Seigneur de St Antoine. Van Dyck painted one other major portrait of Charles I with a horse: Charles I at the Hunt (Le Roi à la chasse, c.1635, now in the Louvre), which depicts Charles standing next to a horse in civilian clothing, as if resting on a hunt, wearing a wide-brimmed Cavalier hat and leaning on a walking cane, gazing at a coastal scene; a picture of "gentlemanly nonchalance and regal assurance".
  Van Dyck's portraits of Charles on horseback echo the imperial tone of Titian's equestrian portrait of Emperor Charles V from 1548, itself inspired by equestrian portraits of Roman emperors. In c.1620, Van Dyck had himself painted a similar portrait of Charles V. The composition may also borrow from Dürer’s 1513 engraving Knight, Death and the Devil.
This is one of several closely contemporaneous works depicting Charles riding a horse as a means to increase his stature. Charles stood only 5 feet 4 inches (163 cm) high, and was keenly conscious of his height. In addition to the paintings, a near life-size equestrian statue of Charles I by Hubert Le Sueur was erected at Charing Cross in 1633 (although originally commissioned in 1630 for Lord Weston's garden in Roehampton; it now stands to the south of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square). A design by Inigo Jones for a triumphal arch at Temple Bar was intended to bear another equestrian statue of Charles.

The painting was listed in the first catalogue of the Royal Collection, compiled in 1637-40. The very large painting, 3.67 metres (12.0 ft) high by 2.92 metres (9 ft 7 in) wide, was hung at the end of a long gallery at Hampton Court Palace. The Royal Collection was dispersed under the Commonwealth, and the painting was sold to Sir Balthazar Gerbier, formerly the king's agent in Antwerp, for £200 on 21 June 1650. It was acquired by Gisbert van Ceulen, who sold it to Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria and Governor of the Spanish Netherlands, in 1698, but was soon taken from Munich as booty of war by Emperor Joseph I. He presented the painting to the John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, in November 1706. It was displayed at Blenheim Palace until the 8th Duke of Marlborough sold it to the National Gallery in 1885 for £17,500. It is usually exhibited in Room 31. The modern Royal Collection includes a smaller version, possibly a modello but perhaps a reduced later version.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Equestrian Portrait of Charles I, King of England
Oil on canvas, 123 x 85 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

Triple Portrait of King Charles I
Oil on canvas
85 × 100 cm
The Royal Collection, London, UK

Portrait of Charles V on Horseback
c. 1620
Oil on canvas, 191 x 123 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Portrait of Prince Charles Louis, Elector Palatine
Oil on canvas, 107 x 93 cm
Private collection

Portrait of the Painter Cornelis de Wae
c. 1627
Oil on canvas
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp

Diana Cecil, Countess of Oxford
Oil on canvas, 107 x 86 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

Porrtrait of the Sculptor Duquesnoy (?)
Oil on canvas, 77,5 x 61 cm
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

Portrait of Marcello Durazzo
Oil on canvas, 205 x 125 cm
Galleria Franchetti, Ca' d'Oro, Venice

Cornelis van der Geest
before 1620
Oil on wood, 37,5 x 32,5 cm
National Gallery, London

Portrait of a Young General
Oil on canvas, 115,5 x 104 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Portrait of an Old Man
c. 1618
Oil on panel, 107 x 77 cm
Liechtenstein Museum, Vienna

An Aristocratic Genoese
Oil on canvas, 200 x 116 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Wife of an Aristocratic Genoese
Oil on canvas, 200 x 116 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin