Self-Portrait by Antoon Van Dyke

Anthony Van Dyke was a 17th-century Flemish artist who became the one of the most popular painters of portraits in the court of Charles I of England, leading up the English Civil War, 1642. This is one of his self-portraits, of which there are several. 

Isn’t this lovely? Here’s another.

Van Dyke was a pupil of Rubens. He came to England at the age of 21, but then left to study more extensively in Italy. He returned to England At 33, seasoned and ready for the challenge presented as a royal portraitist. Van Dyke painted as many as 40 portraits of Charles I, some copies for friends or diplomatic gifts. He also painted the queen and the royal children.

These two images are probably the most famous of Charles I. The three-way portrait (and each face is different, please note) and the king as man-of-action, booted and spurred. Charles I was completely aware of the power of images and the need to demonstrate his royal prestige, but Van Dyke’s portraits actually become a record of Charles’s inability to move beyond images, sadly.

This is my favorite early painting of Charles II (gold suit) with his brother James II (in the center–yes, before he was allowed even into short pants) and his sister Mary (of William and Mary). And their King Charles spaniels, a favorite of both Charles I and II.

Van Dyke was a gorgeous painter and, like Holbein before him, captured the essence and atmosphere of a great and complex court.

Isn’t he gorgeous? Van Dyke painted other works, but these portraits are his most revealing, most skillful, and most interesting works. I was lucky enough to see a small but brilliant exhibition on his works while I was in Paris.


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