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Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641)

Anthony Van Dyck was born in Antwerp on 22 March 1599 into a prosperous and pious family, the seventh child of twelve (and second eldest son) of a fabric dealer. The dean of the Antwerp guild of painters (the Guild of St Luke), Hendrick Van Balen (1575-1632), accepted Van Dyck as a pupil when he was ten years old. In 1618 Van Dyck was enrolled in the guild as a master, and at this time he was already known to Peter Paul Rubens, who described him as "the best of my pupils". He became one of Rubens' principal assistants, and made preparatory drawings (modelli) after Rubens' designs to be engraved by his printmakers.

In November 1620 Van Dyck was enticed to London by Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, an art patron whose collection was the only one in the country to rival the king's own. Van Dyck went into service of the court of James I in London, but after only four months he requested leave to travel. Although the king's conditions stipulated a maximum absence of eight months, Van Dyck stayed in Italy for the next eight years. There he developed his portrait skills, painting sumptuous portraits of the Italian aristocracy. In the autumn of 1627 he was back in Antwerp, where he stayed until 1632, when he agreed to move back to London, to work in the service of the new king of England, Charles I.

Click here to see two states of the portrait print.