Sir Anthony van Dyck was the star pupil of Rubens (1577–1640) and began his career working with him in Antwerp. Like his master he painted many subject pictures but his fame rests more as a portraitist. His early works are in the style of Rubens, but broader in technique and more nervous in execution. During his Italian sojourn from 1621–27, he worked mostly in Genoa, where he single-handedly created an enduring, glamorous image of the local aristocracy. He returned to Antwerp where he painted both portraits and religious works for his predominantly Catholic patrons. In 1632 he left for London to become court painter to King Charles I of England. There, he produced much the same sort of visual propaganda for the King and court as he had for the Genoese grandees, and can be regarded as the ancestor of the ‘swagger portrait’, a portrait type which culminated in the works of John Singer Sargent (1856–1925). The great British eighteenth-century portrait painter, Sir Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788) said on his deathbed, “We are all going to heaven and Van Dyck is of the company”. In addition to his dashing portrayals of King Charles I’s supremely confident courtiers, Van Dyck painted sensitive portraits of himself, his wife and other artists which have a highly individual nervous energy and a beady intelligence. Notable among these are the oil-sketches, drawings of his intellectual circle, engraved as the Iconographia, which he made in Antwerp in 1625–35.
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Books on Anthony van Dyck
Stijn Alsteens and Adam Eaker, Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture, New York, 2016.
Karen Hearn, Van Dyck in Britain, London, 2009.
Susan J. Barnes, Nora de Pooter, Oliver Millar and Horst Vey, Van Dyck, a Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, Newhaven, 2004.
Christopher Brown, Anthony van Dyck,1599-1641, exh. cat., London, 1999.
Giovan Pietro Bellori, The Lives of Modern Painters, Sculptors and Architects, 1672, trans. Alice Sedgwick Wohl, New York, 2005.
Cornelis de Bie, Het Gulden Cabinet vande Edel Vry Schilder-Const, 1662, reprint, Antwerp, 1971.