Anthony Van Dyck images and biography
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(1599-1641)

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See also: Baroque Art

"Among Rubens's many famous pupils and assistants, the greatest and most independent was Anthony van Dyck. He soon acquired all the virtuosity of Rubens in rendering the texture and surface of things, whether it were silk or human flesh, but he differed widely from his master in temperament and mood. It seems that Van Dyck was not a healthy man, and in his paintings a languid and slightly melancholic mood often prevails. It may have been this quality that appealed to the austere noblemen of Genoa and to the cavaliers of Charles I's entourage. In 1632 he had become the Court Painter of Charles I, and his name was Anglicized into Sir Anthony Vandyke. It is to him that we owe an artistic record of this society with its defiantly aristocratic bearing and its cult of courtly refinement. His portrait of Charles I, just dismounted from his horse on a hunting expedition, showed the Stuart monarch 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, a man who needed no outward trappings of power to enhance his natural dignity. No wonder that a painter who could bring out these qualities in his portraits with such perfection was so eagerly sought after by society. In fact, Van Dyck was so overburdened with commissions for portraits that he, like his master Rubens, was unable to cope with them all himself. He had a number of assistants, who painted the costumes of his sitters arranged on dummies, and he did not always paint even the whole of the head. Some of these portraits are uncomfortably near the flattering fashion-dummies of later periods, and there is no doubt that Van Dyck established a dangerous precedence which did much harm to portrait painting. But all this cannot detract from the greatness of his best portraits. Nor should it make us forget that it was he, more than anyone else, who helped to crystallize the ideals of blue-blooded nobility and gentlemanly ease which enrich our vision of man no less than do Rubens's robust and sturdy figures of over-brimming life."

- From "The Story of Art", by E.H. Gombrich

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Van Dyke Images

c. 1620 Frans Snyders
c. 1620 Margareta Snyders
c. 1635 Charles I of England




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