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    • Sir Anthony van Dyck (Antoon van Dijk, Vandyke) (1599-1641)


        Painter | Dyck Canvas Prints

        Sir Anthony van Dyck was born in Antwerp. He became an independent master as early as c.1615/16 and was a member of the Guild in 1618. He was Rubens's chief assistant while still in his teens, his forte being for subjects requiring pathos rather than movement. He visited England in 1620 (James I wanted to employ him as Court Painter), but after four months he returned to Flanders and in 1621 went to Italy where, except for a visit to Flanders in 1622 when his father died, he remained for six years. He visited Rome, Florence, Venice, and Palermo, but stayed mostly in Genoa, where he laid the foundations of his career as a portrait painter and evolved the repertory of patterns which he later used in Antwerp and London.

        He was not at his best in Rome, where he quarrelled with his fellow-Flemings, the Bentname, although he painted two of his most striking portraits there, in 1622, of Sir Robert and Lady Shirley in Persian costume (Petworth Sussex, NT). At that time Rome was full of brilliant artists Bernini, Domenichino, Guercino, Pietro da Cortona and the Baroque that Rubens had seen coming to birth was fully developed. He was in Palermo in 1624, where he painted the Viceroy (London, Dulwich) and began his most important Italian commission, the Madonna of the Rosary (Palermo, Congregazione del Rosario), but the outbreak of plague caused him to flee back to Genoa.

        He returned to Antwerp c.1627 and tried to obtain the patronage of the Regent Isabella, as well as working for the House of Orange. Between then and his departure for England, he produced most of his finest portraits; less forceful as a personality than Rubens, he was more sensitive to the individuality of his sitters, and he expressed it with an unfailing sense of style that reflects something of his own introspective melancholy. In religious works he leaned heavily on Rubens and on Titian and Correggio, though he digested these Italian influences less successfully than Rubens had done. Technically, his paint is thinner than Rubens's vigorous impasto, drier, more dragged, and with a greyer underpainting, less limpid and free in handling.

        His years in England from 1632 until his death - were outwardly successful, with immense prestige at the Court of Charles I, a knighthood, and an enormous practice as a portrait painter, for he supplanted Mytens, and overshadowed Johnson. Nevertheless, his efforts to re-establish himself on the Continent in 1634 and again in 1640, to succeed Rubens (Jordaens), and then to get the commission for the decoration of the gallery in the Louvre which, when he arrived in Paris, had already been given to Poussin, suggest that he realized how precarious Charles I's position had become, and how limiting was the patronage of the English Court. By now, he was very ill and he returned to England in 1641, only to die. His nine years in England were prolific, but involved the constant repetition of his Genoese types, with varying success, according to whether he himself or a studio hand executed the work. None of his helpers was of any significance, and he lacked Rubens's ability to control a large workshop. Among the most famous of his English portraits are the equestrian ones of Charles I, the triple portrait of the King sent to Bernini to serve as the model for a bust, the groups of the royal children, and the great family group at Wilton House, nr Salisbury. All these became models for English portrait painters for centuries to come, through Dobson, Lely, Reynolds and Gainsborough, to Lawrence and beyond.

        Although he died young he was very productive and most older galleries have examples: Antwerp, Brussels, Edinburgh, London (NG, Wallace Coll., Dulwich, Courtauld Inst., Kenwood), and the Royal Coll. being exceptionally rich. The following American and Canadian museums also have examples: Baltimore, Boston (Mus., Gardner), Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland Ohio, Columbus Ohio, Denver, Detroit, Hartford Conn., Indianapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles (Mus., Univ. of S. California), Louisville, New York (Met. Mus., Frick), Ottawa, Raleigh NC, St Louis, San Diego, San Francisco, Toledo Ohio, Toronto, Washington (NG, Corcoran, Nat. Coll.) and Yale.

      • Source: The Penguin Dictionary of Art and Artists (Penguin Reference Books)



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Updated: 2013