Anthony van Dyck

Anthony van Dyck, ‘Plantin-Moretus/Prentenkabinet, Antwerpen’Anthony van Dyck is an Antwerp painter, draftsman and print artist. He is the most famous disciple from the circle of Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). The latter explicitly called him his best student. The wunderkind van Dyck works in a feverish tempo to create an exceptionally well-stocked oeuvre. Along with Rubens, he is one of the defining figures of the Baroque.

Van Dyck was schooled in Latin and like Rubens, frequents humanistic circles. He mirrors himself on the Renaissance ideal of the Courtier. The painter stands out for his strong and charming personality.

In addition to Antwerp, van Dyck is also active in Italy and England, where he is court painter for Charles I and dies at an early age there. Just as with Rubens, he is influenced by the art from Venice. Van Dyck possesses a swift painting technique with loose and visible brushstrokes. Broad brushstrokes are put on the canvas in a loose, virtuoso manner. His technique and eloquence are compared to Titian (ca. 1485/90-1576). His figures often have emotionally laden faces, an aspect with which he influences many artists in the Netherlands. Van Dyck is also a master in the short perspective, a quality amongst others that comes to expression in the ceiling paintings that he, via Rubens, paints for the Saint Charles Borromeo's Church in Antwerp in 1620. Moreover, the influence of Rubens, Raphaël (1483-1520) and Guido Reni (1575-1642) are undeniable.

Van Dyck paints monumental altarpieces and is a leading pioneer figure in portrait art of the 17th Century. Horsemen, groups and children's portraits are his forte. He knows how to reconcile the aristocratic decorum with the informal and temporality of the portrait, as if it were a snapshot. With his masterful expression of objects, architectural elements that he uses as background décor and monumental portraits, van Dyck definitely exerts a significant influence. The high point is the three monumental portraits of Charles I, King of England.

22 March 1599

Anthony van Dyck is born in Antwerp.


Van Dyck is a student of Hendrik van Balen I (1573-1632). It is possible that the young van Dyck learns the Venetian style from van Balen, who had worked some time in Venice.

Circa 1613

At a very young age, van Dyck paints Self-Portrait (Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna).


Already at age 16, van Dyck has his own studio in Antwerp.

Van Dyck paints Self-Portrait (Rubenshuis, Antwerp). Until recently it was thought that it was a portrait by Rubens.

Circa 1617-1618

Van Dyck assists with Rubens' tapestry series on Decius Mus.


Anthony Van Dyck becomes Free Master in the Antwerp Saint Luke Guild and works together with Peter Paul Rubens in his Antwerp studio. On 24 April, Rubens tries to secure a deal regarding van Dyck's painting Achilles discovered among the daughters of Lycomedes. Rubens mentions that it is made by his best student. ("fatto del meglior mio discepolo") (Museo del Prado, Madrid).

Circa 1618-1620

An early masterpiece is made. Samson and Delilah (Dulwich Picture Gallery, London) is reminiscent of the version by Rubens from 1609-1610. (National Gallery, London).


Rubens gives van Dyck the reins for the decorative programme of the 39 ceiling paintings in the Antwerp Saint Charles Borromeo's Church. He completes the majority of the ceiling paintings himself. In 1718, after a fire from a lightning strike, the paintings suffer irreparable damage.

Circa 1620

Bellori mentions in his Le vite de' pittori, scultori ed architetti moderni from 1672 that van Dyck made modelli, based on works by Rubens. These are meant as an example for the gravures of Lucas Vosterman (1595-1675).

Van Dyck works not only in Rubens's studio, but also produces his own work with the intention of selling them.

Christ on the Cross (the so-called Le coup de lance) becomes the new altarpiece of the high altar of the Antwerp Friars Minor Church. (KMSKA, Antwerp) Van Dyck's hand is visible in this painting.


Saint Martin (Saint Martin's Church, Zaventem) is classicist in nature and has many correspondences with the work of Rubens.

The Crown of Thorns (Museo del Prado, Madrid) is again a painting that is strongly similar to the work of Rubens. Moreover, it belongs to Rubens' private collection.


Van Dyck leaves the Rubens studio and travels to England. Most likely van Dyck arrives in Genoa in November.


Van Dyck resides in Venice and becomes acquainted with the Countess of Arundel. He accompanies her on trips to Mantua, Milan and Turin. In Turin, he receives the commissions from Duke Karel Emanuel of Savoye.


Van Dyck visits Rome for the second time.


Van Dyck travels to Palermo (Sicily).


Van Dyck paints portraits of the urban patriciate in Genoa.


The painter lives and works back in Antwerp. His successes in Italy, just as with Rubens, have paved his way. In this period, he receives numerous commissions for altarpieces in milieu of the Counter Reformation. Around 1626-1628, van Dyck paints the portrait of Joannes Malderus, Bishop of Antwerp (KMSKA, Antwerp).


For the left side altar of the Saint Augustine Church in Antwerp, van Dyck paints Saint Augustine in Ecstasy (KMSKA, Antwerp). On the main altar is Holy Virging Surrounded by Saints by Rubens (KMSKA, Antwerp) and on the right side altar is Jacob Jordaens's The Martyrdom of Saint Apollonia (Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels).


Anthony van Dyck is named court painter by Archduchess Isabella.


In this period, van Dyck paints two works with pastoral story material based on Torquato Tasso and Guarini: Rinaldo and Armida (Musée du Louvre, Paris) and Amaryllis and Myrtillo (Count Schönborn Collection, Pommersfelden). Both works were commissioned by the Stadtholder Prince Frederik Hendrik of Orange (1584-1647).


Christ on the Cross with St. Catharine of Siena, St. Dominic and an Angel (KMSKA, Antwerp) is present in the church of the cloister of the Dominicans in Antwerp. Around 1629, van Dyck paints The Lamentation over the Dead Christ for the high altar of the Begijnhof Church in Antwerp (KMSKA, Antwerp).


The Raising of the Cross in the Church of Our Lady in Kortrijk is reminiscent of the version by Rubens in the Antwerp Cathedral of Our Lady. The Crucifixion in the Saint Rumbold's Cathedral in Mechelen is then likewise comparable with the Christ on the Cross (the so-called Le coup de lance) by Rubens from 1620.


Van Dyck makes the portrait of the painter Marten Pepijn (1575-1643). (KMSKA, Antwerp).

Anthony van Dyck departs again to England and makes his residence in a house in Blackfriars, just outside of London's centre at the time. There he receives commissions from King Charles I, and from the English aristocracy.

5 July 1632

Van Dyck is knighted and becomes court painter for King Charles I.


In this period, van Dyck works on large series of portraits that are known as the Iconographie.

April 1633

Van Dyck receives the golden chain and medallion from King Charles I. An annual salary of 200 Pounds is promised to him. Van Dyck is now Sir Anthony van Dyck on paper and according to report six servants are in his service.

Circa 1634

The portraits typical from Cesare Alessandro Scaglia di Verrua, abbé of Staffarda and Mandanici probably come about from this period. (KMSKA, Antwerp; original example in the Cameron Collection in London).


Van Dyck is in Brussels and paints portraits of the aristocracy from the Southern Netherlands.

18 October 1635

Van Dyck is chosen as dean (honoris causa) of the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke.

Circa 1635

The Lamentation over the Dead Christ (KMSKA, Antwerp) is made on commission by Cesare Alessandro Scaglia di Verrua, abbé of Staffarda and Mandanici. In 1641, the piece was hung above his tomb in the chapel of the Church of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows in the Friars Minor cloister in Antwerp.


Van Dyck is back in England.

30 May 1640

Peter Paul Rubens dies.


In the autumn of 1640, van Dyck is back in Antwerp. There he receives a commission to paint an altarpiece dealing with the martyrdom of Saint George, intended for the Cathedral of Our Lady. Van Dyck would have received 2200 guilder for the work. Although the painting was never done, the amount does show that van Dyck performed at the same level of reputation as Rubens.

9 December 1641

Anthony van Dyck dies in his home in Blackfriars in London.

Matthias Depoorter