Anthony van Dyck
Given by John Charrington 1933
Sometime before Van Dyck came to England in 1630, he etched a small number of portraits of his circle of friends, all of which he left unfinished. Lucas Vorsterman was a highly skilled printmaker who had a successful career working with Peter Paul Rubens and Van Dyck, although towards the end of his life he lost his sight and his sanity. Here, Van Dyck seems to capture something of his friend's fragile state of mind. The technical flaws in the print reveal the artist's lack of proficiency with the etching medium: the inky patches are where he accidentally disturbed the etching ground, allowing acid to eat into the plate.
Van Dyck's etchings have a complicated history because of their connection to his series of portraits, commonly known as the Iconograpy from the title given to the edition in 1759 (Iconographie, ou vie des Hommes Illustres du XVII siecle, Amsterdam: Arkstee & Merkus). (For further information about Van Dyck's portrait etchings and the Iconography, click here to be directed to a separate online feature. This will take you to another part of the website).
For all his etchings Van Dyck needed designs from which to work. A number of drawings believed to be preparatory studies have survived, including grisailles (sketches in oil, now in the collection of the Duke of Buccleuch at Boughton House) and black chalk drawings. The Fitzwilliam Museum owns the drawing for the etching of Vorsterman. Notice that the print is in reverse: Van Dyck re-drew the portrait onto the plate in the same direction, and the image was reversed in the printing process.
Anthony van Dyck 1599-1641
Black chalk drawing
Given by Louis Colville Gray Clarke, 1961