The Artist Anthony van Dyck

The Flemish artist Anthony van Dyck was born in 1599 and was famous for his Baroque works of art. His influence on English portrait painting would dominate style for well more than a century. As a court painter for King Charles I of England and Scotland, van Dyck excelled in portraiture, but was also famed for his work with watercolour and etching as well as his various genre paintings.

Born in Antwerp to a well-off family, van Dyck displayed artistic promise early on and was sent to study with the painter Hendrick van Balen by the year 1609. Within a few years he became an independent artist and set up a studio with his friend, the painter Jan Brueghel the Younger. In 1618 van Dyck was accepted as a member of the Painters’ Guild of St. Luke. He then became an assistant to Peter Paul Rubens and was revered as the master’s best student.

In 1620 van Dyck traveled to England to work for both King James I and James VI. At this point van Dyck demonstrated the influence of Rubens, but he also showed his influence from Titian. After a return to Flanders, van Dyck next journeyed to Italy where he studied the masters. He also became a popular portrait artist at this time. His most glorious success came, however, upon his return to England where King Charles and his wife sat for him nearly exclusively during his lifetime. He was paid handsomely and received many commissions due to his ease among the aristocracy as well as his talent. He became immensely famous for his paintings that showcased his cavalier garments and style.

In 1638 van Dyck married one of the queen’s ladies in waiting, the daughter of a peer. They would have one daughter. The artist also had a daughter by his mistress. He died in 1641 in England after returning ill from Paris. England’s Royal Collection contains the most famous collection of van Dyck paintings. However, the artist’s works are collected by the world’s most illustrious museums. Some of van Dyck’s most famous paintings include the Triple Portrait of King Charles I (1635-1636), Self Portrait with a Sunflower (c.1633), King Charles I (c.1635), Samson and Delilah (c. 1630), Elena Grimaldi (1623), Amor and Psyche (1638), Marie –Louise de Tassis (1630). His paintings, while famed for his cavalier style, were also influential for their subtlety of technique which profoundly influenced the subsequent century of English portrait art.