The ultimate source for the Portrait of Martin Ryckaert would be the painting (fig. 1) in the Prado, Madrid (inv. no. 1497). Assuming that his working method followed the general pattern for the Iconography, Van Dyck would then have made a black chalk drawing after the painting in order to establish the preliminary design for the print. The next step would be a more tonal model, in this case a brunaille, that the printmakers could follow as they worked on the copper plate (for other sitters the models were grisailles, or, less commonly, wash drawings). The composition was then engraved in reverse by Jacques Neefs (fig. 2).
The attribution of the tonal models, whether to Van Dyck or his studio, has long been debated. In some cases there is more than one version, and it has been difficult to distinguish which is the prototype. The largest single group of works is the 39 grisailles in the collection of the Duke of Buccleuch, at Boughton House, and even some of these are now in question. The Weldon panel was published as Van Dyck by Glück, Bode, Valentiner and the other art historians cited under Literature. In addition, Julius Held, Michael Jaffé, Francisco Calvo Serraller, the former director of the Prado, Horst Vey and Walter Liedtke confirmed the attribution to Van Dyck on the basis of first-hand inspection.1 However, the entire project related to the designing of the Iconography is in the process of being re-examined, particularly the oil sketches. While the Portrait of Martin Ryckaert is of undoubtedly high quality, and, as such, could be by Van Dyck, given the current state of research, it is not possible at the present time to say unreservedly that it is an autograph work. We therefore believe that the designation "attributed to Van Dyck" best describes it.
The subject of this painting, Martin Ryckaert (1587-1633), was an Antwerp artist who specialized in landscape. In his acceptance into the Guild of St. Luke in 1611 he is described as “the painter with one arm” and, indeed, in this portrait, Van Dyck has been careful to cover the left side of his body with a fur-lined cloak, so that only his right arm is visible. The portrayal is unusual within the context of the Iconography because of the sitter’s fanciful costume, which Emilie Gordenker has identified it as 17th century Polish dress.2
1. Letter to Mr. and Mrs. Weldon from David Koetser, 23 March 1994, summarizing the opinions of the various scholars and a separate letter from Julius Held to Mr. Weldon, 21 March 1994.
2. E.E.S. Gordenker, Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) and the Representation of Dress in Seventeenth-Century Portraiture, Turnhout 2001, p. 41.
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