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Anthony van Dyck 1599-1641
Lucas Vorsterman
Etching, c.1629
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. The etchings have a complicated history because of their connection to a published set of portrait engravings after Van Dyck, commonly known as the Iconograpy, from the title given to an edition published 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 click here to be directed to a separate online feature.

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.

Frans Snyders
Etching, c.1629
Given by John Charrington 1933

The etching of Snyders relates to a portrait painted by Van Dyck in 1621 to mark Snyders’s ten-year wedding anniversary (now in the Frick Collection, New York). Both painted and etched portraits are sensitive portrayals of a man for whom Van Dyck clearly had the deepest respect. His fellow artist is presented as an intellectual, with an aristocratic bearing. The silvery colour of the ink in this impression heightens the supreme delicacy of Van Dyck’s draughtsmanship.

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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
Lucas Vorsterman
Black chalk drawing
Given by Louis Colville Gray Clarke, 1961
PD.30-1961

P.5560-R


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The Fitzwilliam Museum : Highlights

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