By Bethany Shepard 6:28 pm PST

Sir Anthony van Dyck (alternately spelled Vandyke) was an influential Brabantian Flemish painter and Baroque artist of the 17th century. He was born in Belgium in 1599. After a prosperous career in the southern Netherlands and Italy, van Dyck became England’s preeminent court painter.

Sir Anthony van Dyck was the seventh child of Frans van Dyck, a wealthy Antwerp silk dealer. He was a precocious painter who began his career at a young age. His earliest works of independence date back to 1615-16, when he was only 17 years old. He achieved recognition as an independent artist in his late teens. By February 1618, van Dyck was welcomed to the Guild of Saint Luke of Antwerp painters as a free master.

One of Anthony van Dyck’s early influences was Sir Peter Paul Rubens, who is still regarded as the most prominent Flemish Baroque artist. Rubens described van Dyck as “the most talented of my students.”

This is the work of a supremely brilliant 20-year-old Van Dyck working in Rubens’s studio and very possibly executing a Rubens design, under the supervision of the elder master. This compositional type – an intense, spectator jostling drama where the canvas area is barely able to contain a small number of half length figures -was invented by Caravaggio. (Image: © Nicoleta Raluca Tudor |

Additionally, van Dyck studied and was greatly influenced by the works of Italian artists such as Titian.

Van Dyck was known for an eclectic variety of subjects and mediums. In Italy and Antwerp, Anthony van Dyck was a highly successful portraitist and painter of mythological and religious subjects. Van Dyck was also an accomplished engraver and draftsman. His depictions of Charles I and his court are highly renowned for their elegance.

Van Dyck travelled extensively as well. He was first employed by King James I of England, a position he resigned to travel to Italy. He spent the next six years there. He spent his second period in the Netherlands, where he was well-received and achieved considerable success. Despite earning a lucrative salary at the court of King James I, van Dyck returned to Antwerp. In October of 1621, he then departed for Italy. His first stop was in Genoa. Rubens assisted him in obtaining employment in Italy for the aristocratic family groups for whom he worked 14 years ago.

After spending time in Italy and the Netherlands, Van Dyck settled in 1632 at the English court.

The appealing and authoritative depiction of Charles I and his family established new standards for English portraiture. Court members were eager to procure commissioned portraiture with the same effect. In the seventeenth century, portraiture was the most in-demand kind of art. To take advantage of the opportunity, van Dyck persuaded King Charles I to launch a large-scale series on the history of the Order of the Garter, an English order of knighthood.

Charles I in Three Positions (1635-36), a triple portrait of Charles I by Anthony van Dyck, sent to Rome for Bernini to model a bust on. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

After returning to Antwerp from Italy, he focused on iconography for an extended period. He created a great number of paintings in the region. Among van Dyck’s most notable works are the following: Portrait of Cornelis van der Geest, Portrait of Giovanni Battista Cattaneo, and Portrait of a Woman and Child.

Portrait of Cornelis van der Geest by Anthony van Dyck. Cornelis van der Geest was one of the most prominent art collectors of his day, so this commission must have been extremely important to Anthony van Dyck, who was only 21 at the time. He has taken a relatively conservative approach, using a traditional format: a close up of just the sitter’s face, framed by a white ruff. But his brushwork is virtuosic. The painting was later extended, almost certainly not by van Dyck, to bust length, and showed part of the sitter’s hand. The large frame now covers the additions. (Image:© Nicoleta Raluca Tudor |
Anthony van Dyck painting Madonna with child in gallery Pinacoteca di Brera. (Image:© Jaroslav Moravcik |

After achieving popularity, van Dyck established a large studio in England that included a number of his noteworthy paintings. This studio has become a portrait assembly line.

Van Dyck had a significant impact on English art, which generated many great artists throughout the years. In 1632, van Dyck was knighted in honor of the significant contribution of his works.

Endymion Porter and Anthony van Dyck by Van Dyck, 1633. Detail. Museo del Prado, Madrid. (Image:© Whpics |

The styles depicted in his paintings became a widespread fad among the people of his time. For example, the Vandyke beard and collar were popular among the men of his time who served as his models. During the time of King George III, the Vandyke costume was extremely fashionable. One of his most often used colors, brown, was memorialized with the name “Vandyke brown.”

In conclusion, Anthony van Dyck was a wonderful artist that impacted countless people throughout the world for centuries. His legacy endures as his works are still greatly admired today.