Anthony Van Dyck

Anthony Van Dyck
Born Mar. 22, 1599
Antwerp, Spanish Netherlands (modern-day Belgium)
Died Dec. 9 1641 (at age 42)
London, United Kingdom
Nationality Flemish
Education Hendrick van Balen,
Peter Paul Rubens
Movement Baroque
Field Painting
Works View Complete Works

Anthony Van Dyck is a famous artist of Flemish Baroque painting, the art that existed from 1585 to 1700 in southern Netherlands before the Spanish recaptured Antwerp. The artist became popular in Europe for his ingenuity in art. His skills brought him opportunities to produce masterpiece portraits of England Charles, his family and the court.

Van Dyck is attributed to having done a lot of paint work touching on subjects of the Bible and different mythological areas. His proficiency in art is connected with his invention of water-coloring the use of a mordant to create designs in metals.

Early Life & Education

Anthony Van Dyck was born on the 23rd of March, 1599 in Antwerp to a flourishing family of silk merchant Frans Van Dyck. At the age of 10 years, his father sent him for training under painter Hendrik Van Balen. After around seven years at the workshop, in 1615, Anthony van Dyck set up his own workshop and took on an apprentice.

Three years later in 1618, working under Rubens as an assistant painter, Anthony was accepted into the Lucas Guild of painters. It was at this time that he took part in the painting of the Jesuits church in Atwerp, Samson and Delilah, The Crowning With Thorns, and St. Martin Dividing His Cloak With a Beggar, amongst others.


In 1620, Anthony Van Dyck moved to London after being urged by the Duke of Buckingham. He went on to work for king James I & VI. While in England, he attended the collection of Earl of Arundel where he was inspired greatly by the works of Titian. He developed interest in the renaissance art that was the signature of his employer/teacher Rubens. This lead him to move to Italy to further his knowledge.


He returned to Antwerp on the February of 1621 before leaving for Italy eight months later. He was to spend six years in Italy. His main focus was to study and copy works of great artists, namely Tintoretto, Veronese, and Titian from whose works he was influenced by. His source of income was the earning that he made from his portraits notably: George Cage, Looking at Statuette, pictures for the church of Rosario depicting saint Rosalia, Susana and the Elders, The Four Ages of Man, and The Tribute Money.

He returned to Antwerp in 1627 to become a court and church painter in Archduchess Isabella.

Art Style & Technique

Anthony Van Dyck was born in times of Flemish Baroque painting. He was brought up artistically by his godfathers who initiated in him into Rennaisance style of art that came during his time.

He is known to have used different types of art styles to communicate his ideas namely, portraiture (watercolor, etching, iconography), and religion.

Using these styles, Anthony Van Byck presented every client with their specific needs.


He is given a lot of respect as being second to Titian in the number of completed portraits. Out of his 99 completed works of art, 72 works were portraits. His strength in portraiture was believed to arise from his Flemish influence. His ability to compose a human portrait showed a lot of realism in terms of naturalness and dignity. He specialized in the use of water-color on the background of the portrait for the sake of highlighting the subject.

The naturalism with the blend of iconographic ideas made him famous. This landed him lucrative commissions from the courts of England under King James I & VI. More commendations from countess of Arundel so him work in those courts. These technique also allowed his works to capture the human flesh via the strong black and red interiors.

He gave power to his portraits in ways that subdue their subjects, forcing viewers to feel so inferior. This brought the grandeur feeling of the portraits before those who viewed them. This in one way or another echoed the power that they held in the society. His inclusion of hand gestures and their body dimensions did emphasize the sitter’s most famous traits.


The majority of religious paintings by van Dyck can be traced back to Italy during his six-year stay.

His works were mainly for the Catholic Church leaders. The level of clarity and refining on his portraits can be seen to be greatly influenced by Rubens. Much iconography and body dimensioning is evident.

The beauty with which he attributed to the paintings relates so much to his stay in Venice at the Venetian school. These religious paintings helped Van Dycjk to have a better taste of practice with the landscape evident in his later genres.

It is evident from his works that he put much consideration on the clients’ needs and had taste for achieving desired results.

Looking at the use of color in the three different countries he did his jobs, a clear-cut line is seen in the way the representations are done. For example, in Antwerp he used silvery sheen in his works, while in England his choice is of bold tints and real colors for a variety of objects in his scenes. He is inclined towards making the object look more natural by use of his flesh tones. For the interiors he insisted on greys and blacks awhile he chose blues and greens overlying a white sheen for the landscape.

Brush work

He had a strong liking for loose and fluid brush strokes applied to the fabrics and landscapes. He managed additions of tiny details. These techniques bring out very bright and reflective surfaces as seen on Charles I’s armor.

His preference for thin paint texture did help in continuity in flow of paint enabling smooth, longer strokes of brushes with a thin layering effect. He has a record of finishing a portrait in just an hour.


Van Dyck approached his religious works on a slanted plane. He centered his subjects, symbolizing the authority vested on them in society.

He achieved the three dimensional effect by angular positioning of the subjects with his lighting techniques as an icing in creating depth.

Anthony Van Dyck completed numerous works in different countries. In England, he was notably responsible for court paintings and the King’s paintings. In Antwerp he completed several works on his return from Italy from churches and courts while in Italy his main clients were Vatican leaders.

One response to “Anthony Van Dyck”

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