Anthony Van Dyck: Artist Portrait

Anthony van Dyck

Born 1599. Died 1641.

Works by Anthony van Dyck at Sotheby's

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Anthony van Dyck Biography

Renowned chiefly for his portraits, Anthony van Dyke was one the most significant Flemish painters of the 17th century. Born in 1599, Van Dyck began his career apprenticing with Hendrick van Balen in 1609, and, later, working as chief assistant to Peter Paul Rubens between 1617–20. Although formally working under Rubens, Van Dyck is said to have been quite precocious, and simultaneously established an independent career as his reputation grew. Accounts of his personality mention his aristocratic manners, which were said to often border on arrogance, as well as his striking good looks, evident in his many self-portraits.

After a brief stay in London in 1620–21 working in the service of King James I, Van Dyck moved to Italy where he traveled a great deal. During this time, he developed a signature style that was primarily portrait based, and more heavily inspired by Titian rather than Rubens. He completed a number of prestigious commissions of nobility, including the famed, full-length portrait Marchesa Elena Grimaldi (National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC). By 1828, Van Dyck had returned to Antwerp, and began expanding his repertoire to include religious scenes that were lauded for their emotional tone and expressive style.

In 1632 Van Dyck moved back to London and stayed there for the remainder of his career and life. Working in the court of King Charles I, he earned great acclaim and was subsequently knighted. It is his portraits of the King, his family and the royal court that truly solidified Van Dyck’s fame. By 1641 his health began to fail, and he died on 9 December; he is buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Revered by later generations of artists, including Thomas Gainsborough, Van Dyck’s work is included in the world’s major art institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; the Louvre, Paris; and the Museo del Prado, Spain.

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