|Anthony van Dyck
| March 22,
|9 December 1641(1641-12-09) (aged 42)
Anthony van Dyck
|Frans Van Dyck
Does Anthony van Dyck Dead or Alive?
As per our current Database, Anthony van Dyck died on 9 December 1641(1641-12-09) (aged 42)
Antoon van Dyck (his Flemish name) was born to prosperous parents in Antwerp. His father was Frans van Dyck, a silk merchant, and his mother was Maria Cupers, daughter of Dirk Cupers and Catharina Conincx. He was baptised on 23 March 1599 (as Anthonio). His talent was evident very early, and he was studying painting with Hendrick van Balen by 1609, and became an independent painter around 1615, setting up a workshop with his even younger friend Jan Brueghel the Younger. By the age of fifteen he was already a highly accomplished artist, as his Self-portrait, 1613–14, shows. He was admitted to the Antwerp painters’ Guild of Saint Luke as a free master by February 1618. Within a few years he was to be the chief assistant to the dominant master of Antwerp, and the whole of Northern Europe, Peter Paul Rubens, who made much use of sub-contracted artists as well as his own large workshop. His influence on the young artist was immense. Rubens referred to the nineteen-year-old van Dyck as “the best of my pupils”.
The origins and exact nature of their relationship are unclear. It has been speculated that van Dyck was a pupil of Rubens from about 1613, as even his early work shows little trace of van Balen’s style, but there is no clear evidence for this. At the same time the dominance of Rubens in the relatively small and declining city of Antwerp probably explains why, despite his periodic returns to the city, van Dyck spent most of his career abroad. In 1620, in Rubens’s contract for the major commission for the ceiling of the Carolus Borromeuskerk, the Jesuit church at Antwerp (lost to fire in 1718), van Dyck is specified as one of the “discipelen” who was to execute the paintings to Rubens’ designs. Unlike van Dyck, Rubens worked for most of the courts of Europe, but avoided exclusive attachment to any of them.
In 1620, at the instigation of George Villiers, Marquess of Buckingham, van Dyck went to England for the first time where he worked for King James I of England, receiving £100. It was in London in the collection of the Earl of Arundel that he first saw the work of Titian, whose use of colour and subtle modeling of form would prove transformational, offering a new stylistic language that would enrich the compositional lessons learned from Rubens.
He returned to Flanders after about four months, and then left in late 1621 for Italy, where he remained for six years. There he studied the Italian masters while starting a successful career as a portraitist. He was already presenting himself as a figure of consequence, annoying the rather bohemian Northern artist’s colony in Rome, says Giovan Pietro Bellori, by appearing with “the pomp of Zeuxis … his behaviour was that of a nobleman rather than an ordinary person, and he shone in rich garments. Since he was accustomed in the circle of Rubens to noblemen, and being naturally of elevated mind, and anxious to make himself distinguished, he therefore wore—as well as silks—a hat with feathers and brooches, gold chains across his chest, and was accompanied by servants.”
For the Genoese aristocracy, then in a final flush of prosperity, he developed a full-length portrait style, drawing on Veronese and Titian as well as Rubens’ style from his own period in Genoa, where extremely tall but graceful figures look down on the viewer with great hauteur. In 1627, he went back to Antwerp where he remained for five years, painting more affable portraits which still made his Flemish patrons look as stylish as possible. A life-size group portrait of twenty-four City Councillors of Brussels he painted for the council-chamber was destroyed in 1695. He was evidently very charming to his patrons, and, like Rubens, well able to mix in aristocratic and court circles, which added to his ability to obtain commissions. By 1630, he was described as the court painter of the Habsburg Governor of Flanders, the Archduchess Isabella. In this period he also produced many religious works, including large altarpieces, and began his printmaking.
King Charles I was the most passionate collector of art among the Stuart kings, and saw painting as a way of promoting his elevated view of the monarchy. In 1628, he bought the fabulous collection that the Duke of Mantua was forced to sell, and he had been trying since his accession in 1625 to bring leading foreign painters to England. In 1626, he was able to persuade Orazio Gentileschi to settle in England, later to be joined by his daughter Artemisia and some of his sons. Rubens was an especial target, who eventually in 1630 came on a diplomatic mission, which included painting, and he later sent Charles more paintings from Antwerp. Rubens was very well-treated during his nine-month visit, during which he was knighted. Charles’s court portraitist, Daniel Mytens, was a somewhat pedestrian Dutchman. Charles was very short, less than 5 feet (1.5 m) tall, and presented challenges to a portrait artist.
Van Dyck remained in touch with the English court and helped King Charles’s agents in their search for pictures. He sent some of his own works, including a self portrait (1623) with Endymion Porter, one of Charles’s agents, his Rinaldo and Armida (1629), and a religious picture for the Queen. He had also painted Charles’s sister, Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia, at The Hague in 1632. In April of that year, van Dyck returned to London and was taken under the wing of the court immediately, being knighted in July and at the same time receiving a pension of £200 a year, in the grant of which he was described as principalle Paynter in ordinary to their majesties. He was well paid for his paintings in addition to this, at least in theory, as King Charles did not actually pay over his pension for five years, and reduced the price of many paintings. He was provided with a house on the River Thames at Blackfriars, then just outside the City, thus avoiding the monopoly of the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers. A suite of rooms in Eltham Palace, no longer used by the royal family, was also put at his disposal as a country retreat. His Blackfriars studio was frequently visited by the King and Queen (later a special causeway was built to ease their access), who hardly sat for another painter while van Dyck lived.
When van Dyck was knighted in 1632, he anglicized his name to Vandyke.
The King in Council by letters patent granted van Dyck denizenship in 1638, and he married Mary Ruthven, with whom he had one daughter. Mary was the daughter of Patrick Ruthven, who, although the title was forfeited, styled himself Lord Ruthven. She was a Lady-in-waiting to the Queen in 1639–40; this may have been instigated by the King in an attempt to keep him in England. He had spent most of 1634 in Antwerp, returning the following year, and in 1640–41, as the Civil War loomed, spent several months in Flanders and France. In 1640 he accompanied prince John Casimir of Poland after he was freed from French imprisonment.
The relatively few names of his assistants that are known are Dutch or Flemish. He probably preferred to use trained Flemings, as no equivalent English training existed in this period. Van Dyck’s enormous influence on English art does not come from a tradition handed down through his pupils; in fact it is not possible to document a connection to his studio for any English painter of any significance. Dutchman Adriaen Hanneman (1604–1671) returned to his native The Hague in 1638 to become the leading portraitist there. Flemish painter Pieter Thijs studied in van Dyck’s workshop as one of van Dyck’s last pupils. He became a very successful portrait and history painter in his native Antwerp.
A letter dated 13 August 1641, from Lady Roxburghe in England to a correspondent in The Hague, reported that van Dyck was recuperating from a long illness. In November, van Dyck’s condition worsened, and he returned to England from Paris, where he had gone to paint Cardinal Richelieu. He died in London on 9 December 1641. There was a memorial to him within the Old St Paul’s Cathedral.
Van Dyck’s portraits flattered more than Velázquez’s. When Sophia, later Electoress of Hanover, first met Queen Henrietta Maria, in exile in Holland in 1641, she wrote: “Van Dyck’s handsome portraits had given me so fine an idea of the beauty of all English ladies, that I was surprised to find that the Queen, who looked so fine in painting, was a small woman raised up on her chair, with long skinny arms and teeth like defence works projecting from her mouth…”
Much later, the styles worn by his models provided the names of the Van Dyke beard for the sharply pointed and trimmed goatees popular for men in his day, and the van Dyke collar, “a wide collar across the shoulders edged copiously with lace”. During the reign of George III, a generic “Cavalier” fancy-dress costume called a Van Dyke was popular; Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy is wearing such a Van Dyke outfit. In 1774 Derby porcelain advertised a figure, after a portrait by Johann Zoffany, of “the King in a Vandyck dress”.
The series was a great success, but was his only venture into printmaking; portraiture probably paid better, and he was constantly in demand. At his death there were eighty plates by others, of which fifty-two were of artists, as well as his own eighteen. The plates were bought by a publisher; with the plates reworked periodically as they wore out they continued to be printed for centuries, and the series added to, so that it reached over two hundred portraits by the late 18th century. In 1851, the plates were bought by the Calcographie du Louvre.
The British Royal Collection, which still contains many of his paintings, has a total of twenty-six paintings. The National Gallery, London (fourteen works), The Museo del Prado (Spain) (twenty-five Works, such as: Self-portrait with Endymion Porter, The Metal Serpent, Christ Crowned with Thorns, The taking of Christ, Portrait of Mary Ruthven, the painter’s Wife), The Louvre in Paris (eighteen works), The Alte Pinakothek in Munich, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Frick Collection have examples of his portrait style. Wilton House still holds the works he did for one of his main patrons, the Earl of Pembroke, including his largest work, a huge family group portrait with ten main figures. Spanish museums own a rich presence of this artist in addition to The Prado’s ensemble; The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum preserves the Portrait of Jacques Le Roy, property of The Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection but also on display at the Museum there’s a Crucified Christ, and The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum houses a great Lamentation before the dead Christ. In 2008, Patrimonio Nacional of Spain recovered a Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian and returned it to The Escorial Monastery, two centuries after its removal and, subsequently, The Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando has revealed as its own a long-stored painting, added to another, The Virgin with the Child with the repentant sinners, in addition the institution has an original sketch. In addition, in December 2017, a Virgin with Child, which is kept in The Museum Cerralbo and was previously considered the work of Mateo Cerezo, was revealed as the painter’s original after an exhaustive study and restoration project. Finally, The Museum of Fine Arts of Valencia owns an Equestrian Portrait of Don Francisco de Moncada (currently undergoing restoration, April 2020).
Tate Britain held the exhibition Van Dyck & Britain in 2009. In 2016 the Frick Collection in New York had an exhibition “Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture”, the first major survey of the artist’s work in the United States in over two decades.
Currently, Anthony van Dyck is 422 years, 6 months and 6 days old. Anthony van Dyck will celebrate 423rd birthday on a Tuesday 22nd of March 2022.
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