1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Van Dyck, Sir Anthony
VAN DYCK, SIR ANTHONY (1599–1641), Flemish painter, was born in Antwerp on the 22nd of March 1599. Though the name of Van Dyck is frequently met with in the list of Antwerp painters, Anthony's pedigree cannot be traced beyond his grandparents, who were silk mercers of some standing. He was the seventh of twelve children of Frans Van Dyck, an Antwerp tradesman in good circumstances. His mother, Maria Cupers, who died when he was scarcely eight years of age, seems to have attained a certain degree of excellence in art needlework. Of the boy's early education nothing is known. He was little over ten when he was apprenticed to Hendrick Van Balen, the painter of many delicate little pictures as well as an occasional collaborator of Rubens and Breughel, and the master of Snyders. From a document in the state paper office at Brussels, relating to a lawsuit between a picture dealer and an Antwerp churchman, which arose out of the sale, in 1660, of a series of Apostles' heads ascribed to Van Dyck, it appears that, as far back as 1615, Van Dyck had worked independently, with pupils of his own, and that his pictures were greatly valued by artists and amateurs. Professor Woermann has identified several of the Apostles' heads here spoken of with some paintings in the gallery at Dresden. Another is in the possession of Earl Spencer at Althorp.
Before he was nineteen (February 1618) Van Dyck became a full member of the Antwerp gild of painters; and some idea of his ability at the time may be gained from the excellent portraits of an old lady and gentleman, formerly ascribed to Rubens, in the Dresden gallery. Dated 1618, they were originally entered as works of Van Dyck, and, as Professor Woermann observes, are undoubtedly the same as those spoken of by Mols in his MS. annotations on Walpole's Anecdotes, now in the library at Brussels. But the same admiration cannot be accorded to the earliest religious composition known to have been painted by him—“Christ falling under the Cross,” in St Paul’s at Antwerp, This picture, of some ten life-size figures, still preserved in the place for which it was originally destined, distinctly proves that from the outset of his career Van Dyck’s power of conception was vastly inferior to his refined taste as a portrait painter. At first sight it seems also that with him, as with most other Flemish painters of the period, every conception, whether sacred or profane, needed to be cast in the mould of Rubens. It would be too much, however, to assert that Van Dyck at this time stood under the guidance of that master; their association, indeed, does not seem to have begun until 1610, and Bellori (1672), who got his information from Sir Kenelm Digby, Van Dyck’s bosom friend, tells us that he was first employed in making drawings (probably also chiaroscuros) for the use of the great master’s engravers, and that among works of the kind one of the first was the “Battle of the Amazons” (1619).
In 1620, we know, Van Dyck was working with Rubens, for on 20th March, in making arrangements with the Antwerp Jesuits for the decoration of their church, the master is allowed to avail himself of his pupil’s assistance, and obtains for him the promise of a picture. This proof of Van Dyck’s personal reputation is fully confirmed (17th July) by a correspondent of the earl of Arundel, who speaks of Van Dyck as a young man of one-and-twenty whose works are scarcely less esteemed than those of his master, and adds that, his relations being people of considerable wealth, he could hardly be expected to leave his home. Van Dyck was, however, thus persuaded, for on 28th November Sir Toby Mathew mentions the artist’s departure to Sir Dudley Carleton, adding that he is in receipt of an annual pension of £100 from the king. There is evidence of Van Dyck’s presence in London till the end of February 1621. He is first mentioned in the order-books of the Exchequer on the 17th of that month as receiving a reward of £100 “for special service by him performed for His Majesty,” and on the 28th, “Antonio van Dyck, gent., His Majesties servant, is allowed to travaile 8 months, he havinge obtayneid his Maties leave in that behalf, as was signified by the E. of Arundell.” What Van Dyck did in London is not known. Among his numerous paintings still preserved in English houses one only is admitted as belonging to the period of this first visit, a full-length portrait of James I. in the royal collection. That he was at the time a portrait painter of the rarest merit may easily be seen from the portrait of “Van der Geest” in the National Gallery (London), and from his own likenesses of himself when still quite young and beardless, in the National Gallery, in the Pinakothek at Munich and in the Wallace Collection. In this last admirable specimen the young painter has represented himself in the character of Paris. Early paintings by Van Dyck are certainly not scarce in British galleries; at Dulwich there is his admirable Samson and Delilah, ascribed to the school of Rubens.
Though the leave of absence was probably obtained by Van Dyck for the purpose of studying the masters in Italy, the eight months had almost elapsed before he started from Antwerp, whither he had gone from London. He left Antwerp on the 3rd of October 1621, and arrived at Genoa on the 21st of November of the same year. Though Van Dyck unquestionably first became acquainted with the masterpieces of the great Venetian colourists in Rubens’s atelier, there can be little doubt that most of the pictures which were formerly ascribed to his earliest period really date from the years of his Italian journey. In fact, studies for some of them can be found in the Chatsworth sketch-book. Among these early works are the “Martyrdom of St Peter” (Brussels), the “Crowning with Thorns” (Berlin), the “Betrayal of Christ” (Madrid and Lord Methuen), “St Martin dividing his Cloak” (Windsor Castle),—a magnificent production, generally ascribed to Rubens, but easily identified through Van Dyck’s admirable sketch at Dorchester House.
It is unnecessary to dwell on a number of tales connected with Van Dyck’s early life, all of which have on closer examination proved to be apocryphal; but one story has been too frequently told to be altogether ignored. At the very outset cf his Italian journey the inflammable youth was captivated by the beauty of a country girl, and for the love of her painted the altar-piece still to be seen in the church at Saventhem, near Brussels, in which he himself is supposed to be represented on a grey horse, given by Rubens to his pupil. It is now known, however, that the picture was commissioned by a gentleman living at Saventhem (to the charms of whose daughter Van Dyck in reality seems not to have been altogether insensible), and a closer study makes it almost certain that it was executed after, not before, his Italian journey. On a reduced scale, and with the omission of two or three figures, the “St Martin” at Saventhem is a reproduction of the picture at Windsor Castle.
With the exception of a short visit to Antwerp at the time of his father’s death in 1622, Van Dyck spent the next five years in Italy. No master from beyond the Alps ever took up a higher position than Van Dyck among the most celebrated representatives of Italian art. Study, as a matter of course ; had been one of his principal objects. No doubt can be entertained as to the great influence exerted by the works of Titian, Paul Veronese and the other great masters of the Venetian school in the development of his genius; still the individuality of the painter remains a striking feature of what may be termed his Italian works, especially portraits. Their peculiar character seems to originate even more in the stateliness of the personages he was fortunate enough to have as sitters than in any desire to follow individual predilection or prevailing fashion. As in later years Van Dyck gives us a striking picture of the higher classes in England, so at this stage he makes us acquainted with Italian beauty and style; and at no other period is his talent more advantageously shown than in some of the glorious portraits he painted at Rome, at Florence, and, above all, at Genoa. At Rome, whither he journeyed after a prolonged stay in Venice, he resided with Cardinal Guido Bentivoglio, who had been papal nuncio in Flanders from 1607 to 1617. For this patron were painted several works of very great importance, the most renowned being the prelate’s own portrait, now in the Pitti Palace at Florence. Another work was a “Crucifixion,” representing Christ dying on the cross with uplifted eyes. Most probably the picture spoken of by Bellori ought to be identified with the admirable canvas now in the gallery at Naples, catalogued as “Scuola di Van Dyck,” unsurpassed by any of those at Antwerp, Paris, Vienna, Rome or elsewhere. Besides these he painted religious subjects and portraits, several of which are reckoned among his finest examples, such as the portrait of Duquesnoy, better known as Fiammingo, the famous sculptor, formerly belonging to the king of the Belgians, and those of Sir Robert Shirley and his wife, in Persian attire, now at Petworth.
Bellori tells us of Van Dyck’s prepossessing appearance, of his elegance and distinction, altogether so different from the habits of his compatriots in Rome, who formed a jovial “gang,” as they termed their association. Van Dyck seems to have kept out of their way, and incurred in consequence such annoyance as made his stay in Rome much shorter than it would otherwise have been. In the company of Lady Arundel he travelled to Turin, but he was eager to reach Genoa, where Rubens had worked with great success some twenty years before, and where his Antwerp friends, Luke and Cornelis de Wael, for many years resident in Italy, now were. Van Dyck remained their guest for several months, and their portraits, now in the Pinacoteca Capitolina at Rome (engraved by W. Hollar from the monochrome at Cassel), may be supposed to have been one of his first Genoese productions. Though several of the palaces of the “proud” city no longer retain their treasures, and, among the specimens of Van Dyck’s genius still left, too many have been greatly injured by cleaning and retouching, Genoa can still boast of a good number of his most attractive productions, portraits of the beautiful ladies and haughty cavaliers of the noble houses of Doria, Brignole Sale, Pallavicini, Balbi, Cattaneo, Spinola, Lommelini and Grimaldi. It would scarcely be possible to speak too highly of such works as the portrait of the lady in white satin and the Durazzo children at the Durazzo Palace, the Balbi children at Panshanger, the Marchesa Balbi at Dorchester House, the equally beautiful portraits of the Lommelini and of the knight in black armour, buff jacket and boots in the Scottish National Gallery at Edinburgh, or the Marchesa Brignole Sale (formerly at Warwick Castle, and afterwards in America). Van Dyck's “Genoese manner” is a current expression, and indeed his Genoese portraits are remarkable for their richness of tonality and what might be called royal splendour, perhaps never before attained in works of the kind. This we may suppose to have had its origin, not only in his recent study of Titian, but also in decorative necessities—the size of the palatial galleries and the rich hues of the Genoese velvets, on which these portraits were to find their place, obliging the painter to find a most uncommon strength of contrast. It must also be acknowledged that the beauty and distinction of Van Dyck's models are greatly enhanced by a splendour of costume entirely different from the dullness then prevalent almost everywhere else. In Italy, moreover, he found the reality of those gorgeous backgrounds—flowing draperies, beautiful gardens, ornamental pillars, marble terraces and balustrades—which elsewhere must be regarded as fictions merely. Here, finally, he was for the first time called upon to paint some of his grandest equestrian portraits, and the often-recurring grey steed with flowing mane (an admirable study of which belongs to Lord Brownlow) was first employed for the portrait of Antonio Giulio Brignole (still at Genoa) and for another picture which we may suppose to represent the same personage at Stafford House. As with Rubens, Titian seems to have been paramount in Van Dyck's regard. Copies in great number we know he possessed of the master's best works, and several little sketches in the British Museum and in the Chatsworth sketch-book bear proof of his devout study of the great Venetian. Some of Van Dyck's earlier paintings, religious and mythological—the “Tribute Money” (Brignole Palace), “Holy Family” (Turin), “Virgin and Saints” (Louvre), “Virgin” (Grosvenor House), “Martyrdom of St Lawrence” (S. Maria dell' Orto, Venice), “Bacchanal” (Lord Belper)—engraved at Genoa as early as 1628—“St Sebastian” (Edinburgh)—are certainly Titianesque in the extreme. Still the master's individuality is not obliterated, and the gallery at Parma has a “Virgin with the Infant Asleep,” which may be termed a marvel of realistic simplicity.
In 1624 Van Dyck sailed from Genoa to Palermo and there painted several persons of rank, including the viceroy, Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy. While in Sicily he became acquainted with the painter Sofonisba Anguisciola (or Angussola), who was then ninety-six years of age and blind; and he was wont to say that he had received more valuable information from a blind woman than from many a seeing man. No important works of Van Dyck are now to be found in Sicily, except the “Virgin and Child” at S. Caterina in Palermo, and a “Virgin and Child with Saints” in the same city. Bellori tells us that a plague broke out and compelled him to leave abruptly, taking with him an unfinished picture of St Rosalia, which was destined for a confraternity of that name, and was completed in Genoa. The composition was repeated in Antwerp for the Bachelors' Brotherhood, a picture now in Vienna. Van Dyck most probably remained in Genoa till 1626, and here in all likelihood he painted the De Jodes, father and son, the celebrated engravers, who are represented together in a masterly portrait in the Capitol at Rome, the companion picture to the brothers De Wael; and Nicholas Laniere, musician-in-chief to Charles I., a painting spoken of in Van der Dort's catalogue as “done beyond the seas.” Laniere was in Italy precisely at this time, and it was through his portrait (now at Windsor Castle), Walpole assures us, that Van Dyck attracted the notice of Charles I.
Traversing the Mont Cenis pass, Van Dyck stopped at Aix with Peiresc, the famous scholar and friend of Rubens, and probably proceeded straight to Antwerp. His beautiful portrait of Langlois, the Paris print-seller, from which it was conjectured that he spent some time at Paris, was unquestionably painted in Genoa. It is very likely that, before settling again at Antwerp, Van Dyck at this time paid a second visit to England, to paint a portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria, but left again when he found Mytens firmly established as court favourite. He probably returned to Antwerp in 1627, though there is no recorded proof of his presence before the 3rd of March 1628. One of his sisters had died in a convent the year before, and he now made a will in favour of Susan and Isabella, two other sisters, also nuns. That Van Dyck was in Antwerp on the 18th of May is proved by a letter from Lord Carlisle to Buckingham (Sainsbury, ciii.).
Great as may have been the strength of Italian reminiscence, from the moment Van Dyck again trod Flemish soil the influence of Rubens became predominant, and we can scarcely doubt that a competition speedily arose between master and pupil. At this period churches and convents were numerous and richly endowed; and the number of pictures, stained glass windows and elaborate carvings in Belgian churches before the French conquest was enormous. Hardly fifty years had elapsed since these buildings had been stripped of their artistic treasures, and the devout were now eager once more to adorn them with productions of the greatest painters. Hence Van Dyck's share could be very copious without in any degree interfering with the vast undertakings assigned to Rubens. The latter was also absent for many months in 1629 and 1630, so that Van Dyck was for a time the first master in the Netherlands. Among the earliest works after his return to Antwerp we find the “Crucifixion,” given to the Dominican nuns, in accordance with the wish expressed by the painter's dying father, and now in the Antwerp museum. The figures are life-size, and at the foot of the cross, besides a weeping angel, are St Catherine of Siena and St Dominic. Neither in type nor in general effect does it suggest the master's immediately preceding works. As a new feature we observe a kind of elegance, not entirely free from mannerism, which is often conspicuous with Van Dyck even when the technical excellence commands our warmest admiration. Inspiration, as Waagen observes, was far more limited with Van Dyck than with Rubens. His truly delicate nature led him to restrain his conceptions within the bounds of an academic evenness, generally more pleasing to the uninitiated than the strength of expression which sometimes imparts a sort of violence to the works of Rubens. To Van Dyck's second—more justly speaking third—manner belong some of his best religious works. The “Crucifixion” in the cathedral at Mechlin is termed by Sir Joshua Reynolds one of the finest pictures in the world. Other Crucifixions are in St Michael's at Ghent (sketches in Lord Brownlow's collection and the Brussels museum) and in the church at Termonde. Still finer are the two works painted for the Antwerp Jesuits and now at Vienna—“The Mystic Marriage of the Blessed Herman Joseph” and “St Rosalia Crowned by the Infant Saviour.” To this period likewise belong the celebrated “Elevation of the Cross” at Courtrai and the “St Augustine in Ecstasy,” in the church of the Jesuits at Antwerp; the general effect of this last, it must be acknowledged with—Reynolds, is inferior to that of the beautiful engraving by De Jode, and also to the earl of Northbrook's magnificent sketch. At Dulwich we find the first idea of the composition, with many interesting differences. It may be a matter of individual preference to pronounce Van Dyck's Flemish portraits superior to those of an earlier period; but nobody can fail to admit that, technically speaking, they indicate a further step towards perfection. The darkness of the Genoese portraits has vanished; broad daylight now freely illuminates the model, and such works as the portraits of Francisco de Moncada (Louvre) and of the Count de Bergh (Prado) are perhaps as close to material excellence as any painting could be. The full-length likenesses of Philip Le Roy (1630) and his wife (1631) (Wallace Collection) and of Mary Louisa of Tassis (Prince Liechtenstein, Vienna) are not only the finest examples of the master's talent, but deserve to rank among the most beautiful portraits ever painted. The “Snyders” at Castle Howard is regarded by Waagen as not inferior to the most celebrated Raphaels, Titians or Holbeins; and of almost equal excellence are the “Wife of Colin de Nole” in the Munich gallery, the “Lady and her Daughter” at the Louvre, and the “Lady in Black” at Cassel.
Rapidly rising to honour and wealth, Van Dyck shared with Rubens the official title of court painter, and his numerous portraits of the infanta in her monastic garb (Paris, Vienna, Turin, Parma, &c.) bear testimony to the great favour in which he stood with her. When Marie de Medicis, after her flight from France, took up her residence in Brussels (1631), she honoured Van Dyck, as well as Rubens, with repeated visits, and several times called upon him to paint her likeness, as well as those Of Gaston of Orleans and his wife Margaret of Lorraine, and several of the personages of their court. From Gerbier's letters we learn that Van Dyck at this time was contemplating another journey to England, and was very anxious to be commissioned by the infanta and the queen of France to take over their portraits as presents for the king and royal family. He soon travelled to the Hague to paint the prince and princess of Orange and their son. Quite at the beginning of 1632 Constantine Huygens, who was then living at the Hague, inscribes in his diary, “Pingor a Van Dyckio.” When, towards the end of March, Van Dyck sailed for England, he took all these portraits with him, as we learn from an account of the 8th of August 1632 (Carpenter's Pictorial Notices). Dutch authors speak of a visit paid by Van Dyck to Frans Hals at Haarlem, and of a portrait of the latter through which the Antwerp master was at once recognized by his Dutch colleague. An engraving of a portrait of Hals after Van Dyck seems to confirm the story.
In undertaking this new journey to London, Van Dyck was assured of success, for Gerbier's letters show that the king had personally desired his presence. As early as March 1629 Endymion Porter, one of the gentlemen of the king's bed-chamber, had been commissioned to order a picture from Van Dyck, “Rinaldo and Armida.” The canvas, now belonging to the duke of Newcastle, may be looked upon as one of the master's finest creations. Exceptional favours were bestowed upon Van Dyck almost from the day of his arrival in London. Besides the title of painter in ordinary, and the grant of an annual pension of £200, he received the honour of knighthood after a residence of less than three months at court (5th July 1632). He rapidly achieved popularity among the higher classes, and, as Walpole says, his works are so frequent in England that to most Englishmen it is difficult to avoid thinking of him as their countryman.
His refined nature is strikingly illustrated in his admirable interpretation of English beauty and style. And, if Van Dyck be compared to Mytens and Cornelius Janssen, the most distinguished painters employed by the English court immediately before him, few artists, whether in England or elsewhere, have more richly endowed their models with distinction of feature and elegance in bearing. To him may be applied what Opie says of Titian, “that he combines resemblance with dignity, costume with taste, and art with simplicity.” We are particularly struck with the thorough and immediate identification of his talent with local tastes and exigencies. Charles I. and Henrietta Maria, although pictured by several other painters, are known to posterity almost exclusively through Van Dyck, not from a greater closeness of resemblance to the original, but from a particular power of expression and bearing which, once seen, it is impossible to forget. The artist was lodged at the expense of the crown, with a summer residence at Eltham Palace, and was frequently honoured with the visits of the king at his studio at Blackfriars. Portraits now followed each other with a rapidity scarcely credible to those unacquainted with the artist's method. In fact, his mode of living and his love of pleasure sufficiently explain his great need of money. During the first year of his presence in England he painted the king and queen a dozen times. The first of these noble portraits is the admirable full-length of Charles I., with the queen and their two eldest children, at Windsor Castle. The style he adopted in England is generally termed his third manner; we might better say his fourth, as he already had a very particular style before he set out on his Italian journey. De Piles gives us some account of Van Dyck's methods at this period of his career. He began with a small sketch on grey paper with black and white chalks, or a monochrome in oils. This study was passed on to assistants in order to be copied on the required scale. When the clothes were sufficiently advanced by the pupils from those sent by the model, as well as the background and accessories, the master was enabled in a few sittings of an hour each to complete the work. Van Dyck excelled in painting the hands; he is said to have kept special models for this part of his work. It need hardly be said that a system of this kind, although employed by Rubens for his larger creations, was exceedingly ill adapted to portrait painting. In Van Dyck's later productions we too often detect marks of haste, as if the brush were becoming a mere implement of trade.
Nearly the whole of 1634 and 1635 were spent by Van Dyck in the Netherlands, whence his brother, an Antwerp priest, had been called over by the queen to act as her chaplain. The archduchess died on 1st December 1633, and Van Dyck naturally wished to get his official title renewed by her successor, Ferdinand of Austria, brother of Philip IV. That Van Dyck's residence in Antwerp was only to be temporary is shown by the power given to his sister Susan for the administration of his affairs in Belgium (14th April 1634). On the arrival of the new governor Van Dyck was immediately called upon to paint his likeness, a picture now in the Madrid gallery, where the same personage is also represented by Rubens and Velazquez. Several other portraits of Ferdinand, either in his cardinal's robes or in military dress, by Van Dyck, occur elsewhere. One on horseback was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery, London, in 1887, as the duke of Alva (lent by Mr S. Kynaston Mainwaring). Van Dyck was greatly in demand at this time, and his prices were correspondingly high, as the Antwerp municipality found when they asked for a portrait of the late infanta to decorate one of the triumphal arches for the reception of the new governor. The most important of Van Dyck's works, at any rate as a portrait painter, belong to this period. The picture representing in life-size the members of the Brussels corporation, which was destroyed by fire during. the siege of 1695, is spoken of with intense admiration by several writers. Bullart, for instance, is very enthusiastic about its fine colour and life-like qualities. Among the religious paintings of undisputed excellence belonging to the same period are the “Adoration of the Shepherds” in the church at Termonde, and the “Deposition,” where the body of Christ rests upon the lap of the Virgin, in the Antwerp museum. Among the portraits are the admirable full-length of Scaglia, the king's frequent agent in the Netherlands (at Dorchester House; a replica in the museum at Antwerp), the equestrian portrait of Albert of Arenberg (Arenberg Palace at Brussels), and a portrait of the same nobleman on foot, in the black velvet Spanish dress with golden chamberlain's key (long said to be Rubens) at Althorp, the full-length of Helena Fourment, Rubens's second wife (at St Petersburg), the beautiful duchess of Havre, Mary Clara de Croy, signed and dated 1634 (Mr Ayscough Fawkes), and other members of the same family (at Munich), Thomas of Savoy (at Berlin), an admirable half-length of a lady in black (in the Vienna gallery), and above all the grandiose picture in which John of Nassau is represented at full-length, with his wife and children (at Panshanger). Several portraits of Brussels and Antwerp magistrates must also be mentioned, the most important being John Van Merstraeten, a Brussels lawyer (at Cassel).
After being chosen honorary president of the Antwerp gild of St Luke, Van Dyck returned to London before the end of 1635. In spite of the vast number of his later portraits, some of them deserve to be ranked among the most celebrated of his productions. The group of three English royal children in the gallery at Turin (1635), the portraits of Charles I. in the Louvre and in the National Gallery, London, the picture of the Pembroke family at Wilton House, Sir George and Sir Francis Villiers, and the earls of Bristol and Bedford, at Althorp, as well as those of Francis Russell, fourth earl of Bedford, and Anne Carr, his consort, at Woburn Abbey (1636), all belong to the years immediately following the master’s return from the Netherlands.
He now married Lady Mary Ruthven, daughter of Sir Patrick Ruthven and granddaughter of the earl of Gowrie. There are several portraits of her by her husband, the most important being in the Munich gallery, in which she is represented in white satin, playing on the violoncello. She is also said to figure as the Virgin in a picture belonging to Lord Lyttelton. There is a capital engraving of her by Bolswert. In another picture, said to be Mary Ruthven, an exceedingly handsome lady is represented as “Herminia Putting on Clarinda’s Armour.” There can be no doubt as to the model having been Margaret Lemon, a celebrated beauty, whose portrait was engraved by W. Hollar and J. Morin and painted by Van Dyck at Hampton Court. “She was,” says Mr Ernest Law, in his excellent catalogue of this gallery, “the most beautiful and celebrated, though far from being the only mistress of Van Dyck. The great artist, in fact, loved beauty in every form, and found the seduction of female charms altogether irresistible. She lived with him at his house at Blackfriars.” The precise date of Van Dyck’s marriage has not been ascertained. It was probably towards the end of 1639. The union is said to have been promoted by the artist’s friends in order to save him from the consequence of his pernicious way of living. Margaret Lemon resented the event most cruelly, and tried to maim Van Dyck’s right hand.
Van Dyck found few occasions in England to paint anything but portraits. There exists at Belvoir Castle a sketch by him representing a procession of the knights of the Garter, a really grandiose composition, engraved by Cooper. We know from Bellori that Van Dyck had suggested, through his friend Sir Kenelm Digby, for the banqueting-room at Whitehall, a series of decorations illustrating the history of the order of the Garter, and that the king had been much pleased with the idea. The plan, however, failed through the excessively high price asked by the painter, and perhaps also because the king had thought of having the work done in tapestry. Van Dyck’s pension was five years in arrear, and, instead of £560, he received finally, besides his pension, only £200.
When the news of Rubens’s death reached London (June 1640) Van Dyck contemplated a return to his native country, and a letter from Ferdinand of Austria to Philip IV. speaks of his intended journey to Antwerp on St Luke’s Day (18th October). Rubens had left unfinished a series of paintings commanded by the king of Spain, and from correspondence published by Professor Justi we learn that Van Dyck had been thought of to give them the finishing touch. But he absolutely refused to finish them. It was then agreed that he should paint an independent canvas destined to complete the series. Van Dyck was delighted with this order, and Ferdinand tells his brother that he returned to London in great haste “to make preparations for his change of residence; possibly,” adds the letter, “he may still change his mind, for he is stark mad.” Whether Van Dyck found it possible to work during his short stay in the Netherlands is a matter of doubt. Most authors suppose that Van Dyck’s principal object in travelling to the continent was to be entrusted with the decoration of one of the galleries of the Louvre. There may be some truth in this, for Mariette speaks of a letter he saw, written by Claude Vignon, the French painter, in January 1641, asking Langlois for an introduction to Van Dyck, who was then in Paris. Unfortunately the great painter was thwarted in his aspirations. His health was beginning to fail. After his return to London he was frequently obliged to interrupt his work; and a letter written (13th August) from Richmond by Lady Anne Roxburgh to Baron W; van Brederode at the Hague states that the portraits of the Princess Mary had been greatly delayed through Van Dyck’s illness, and that the prince’s (William II. of Orange) would be ready in eight days. “As Van Dyck intends leaving England in the course of ten or twelve days at latest,” she adds, “he will take the paintings himself to the princess of Orange.” These portraits, now in the museum at Amsterdam, are the last Van Dyck painted in England. Of works dated 1639 the portrait of Lady Pembroke, in the gallery of Darmstadt, is a fine example; and to the same year belongs a full-length portrait of Arthur Goodwin at Chatsworth. The twin portrait of Thomas Carew and Thomas Killigrew, in the royal collection, dated 1638, is certainly most delicate, but very weak in tone and slight in handling. Van Dyck sailed in September, and probably spent some time with his Antwerp friends. Early in November he reached Paris, and succeeded in obtaining some important work, when, on 16th November, he was compelled to resign his commissions on account of the state of his health. Scarcely three weeks later (9th December 1641) he died at his residence at Blackfriars. Van Dyck was buried in old St Paul’s, where a Latin inscription was placed on his tomb by Charles I.
An elegy in Cowley’s Miscellanies speaks, not only of the painter’s talent, but of his amiable disposition. We may perhaps point to the coincidence that a Mrs Cowley is in Van Dyck’s will (of 1st December) named guardian of his child, Justiniana Anna, born only eight days before her father’s death. The painter had in the Netherlands an illegitimate daughter, Maria Theresia, who was entrusted to his sister, and to whom he bequeathed £4000. The name of her mother is not known. Not long after her husband’s death Lady Van Dyck became the second wife of Sir Richard Pryse of Gogerddan in Cardiganshire. She was dead in 1645. Justiniana Van Dyck, who was married when scarcely twelve years old to Sir John Stepney of Prendergast, was also something of an artist: she painted a “Crucifixion,” with four angels receiving Christ’s blood in chalices. A similar subject had been painted by Van Dyck, as Bellori tells us, for the duke of Northumberland. After the Restoration a pension of £200 for life was granted to Justiniana Van Dyck, who died before 1690.
Properly speaking, Van Dyck cannot be said to have formed a school. He was followed to London by some of his earlier collaborators, and there soon met a considerable number of others. Jaa van Reyn, David Beek, Adrian Hanneman, Mathew Merian, John Bockhorst (Lang Jan), Remy van Leemput and Peter Thys were foremost among foreigners, Henry Stone and William Dobson among Englishmen. To their assistance the master owed much; but they are also responsible for the vast number of constantly recurring copies which go by his name. It often requires a very discriminating eye to distinguish some of these copies from the original paintings. Nevertheless, after Van Dyck’s death many of his coadjutors produced works of undeniable merit. No school more strikingly reflects the influence of Van Dyck than the British school. Stone and Dobson were, properly speaking, the most fortunate of his continuators; and there is little doubt that such masters as Reynolds, Gainsborough, Lawrence and Raeburn owe a large measure of their superiority to their study of his works.
Though Van Dyck’s reputation greatly suffered through the numerous copies he allowed his pupils to take from his works, the case is otherwise with engraving: Vorsterman, Pontius, Peter de Jode, P. Balliu and S. Bolswert were seldom more fortunate than when under his guidance. De Jode’s “St Augustine,” Bolswert’s “Ecce Homo” and “Crucifixion,” Vorsterman’s “Deposition,” and especially Pontius’s “Herman Joseph” rank among the masterpieces of the art of engraving. Van Dyck was himself an incomparable etcher, and with the needle arrived at a degree of excellence scarcely inferior to that exhibited in his paintings. Such prints as the portraits of Vorsterman, John de Wael, Snyders, Josse de Momper, Adam van Noort, and above all his own effigy, bear witness to his prodigious knowledge of design. Print collectors pay extravagant prices For a first proof taken from the plates engraved by Van Dyck himself. Van Dyck also employed some of the best engravers of his time for the production of a gallery of illustrious heads, men and women, of different countries. Whether all were taken from life is questionable. Gustavus Adolphus and Wallenstein he can hardly nave met. Du Breucq, the architect, he never knew. But all the sketches and drawings were done by himself, and are often met with in public and private galleries. The engravings are sometimes very beautiful and in their first states very rare. Published successively by Martin van der Enden, Giles Hendrickx and John Meyssens, the collection originally consisted of sixteen warriors and statesmen, twelve scholars and fifty-two artists. Hendrickx raised the number to ninety-nine, and used as a frontispiece the portrait of Van Dyck, with the following inscription: Icones principum, virorum doctorum, &c. &c., numero centum ab Antonio Van Dyck pictore ad vivum expressae eiusq. sumtibus aeri incisae, 1645. Seventeen editions were published, the last in 1759, with 124 plates. Many of the plates are the property of the French Government, and belong to the Chalcographie Nationale in Paris.
Literature.—See W. Hookham Carpenter, Pictorial Notices, consisting of a Memoir of Sir Anthony Van Dyck, with a descriptive catalogue of the etchings executed by him (London, 1844) John Smith, A Catalogue Raisonne of the Works of the most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters, part iii. (London, 1841); J. Guiffrey, Antoine Van Dyck, sa vie et son œuvre (Paris, 1882); A. Michiels, Ant. Van Dyck et ses élèves (Paris, 1881); Ign. von Szwykowski, A. Van Dycks Bildnisse bekannter Personen (Leipzig, 1858); Fr. Wibiral, L’Iconographie d’A. Van Dyck d'apres les recherches de H. Weber (Leipzig, 1877); Carl Lemcke, A. Van Dyck (in Robert Dohme’s Kunst und Künstler, vol. i., Leipzig, 1877); Alfr. Woltmann and K. Woermann, Gesch. der Malerei, vol. iii. (Leipzig, 1886); Max Rooses, Geschiedenis der Antwerpsche Schilder-school (Ghent, 1879); F. J. Van den Branden, Gesch. der Anlw. Schilder school (Antwerp, 1883); Percy Rendall Head, Van Dyck (London, 1887); F. G. Stephens, Catalogue of the Exhibition of the Works of Sir A. Van Dyck (London, 1887); E. Knackfuss, Van Dyck (Bielefeld, 1896); Lionel Cust, Anthony Van Dyck (London, 1900), an abridgment with emendations, Van Dyck (1906), and A Description of the Sketch-Book by Sir Anthony Van Dyck . . . at Chatsworth (London, 1902); Max Rooses, Chefs-d'œuvres d'Antoine van Dyck (Antwerp, 1901); Antoine Van Dyck (Paris, 1902) ; Frank Newbolt, Etchings of Van Dyck (London, 1906). (H. H.; P. G. K.)
- Of the Cattaneo portraits, originally eight in number, seven were privately sold out of Italy in 1906, and in the following year one, a half-length “Portrait of a Man,” was acquired for the National Gallery, London, for £13,500. The official acquisition of this picture, in view of the Italian law of 1902, created considerable discussion in Italy and England. The companion female portrait was soon after also purchased.