Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) Two Self-portraits in Rubenshuis, Antwerpen

Two magnificent self-portraits by Anthony van Dyck in Grand studio of Rubens, Antwerp: one of them shows us the brilliant master of portrait painting in his early adolescence, and the other - at the end of his short life. In the period  between these two self-portraits stands the artistic creation of one of the most prominent and talented Flemish artists, a recognized master of the portrait, one of the best portrait painters forever!

Today, when we walk through the halls of the house of Rubens in Antwerp and especially in his Grand studio, it makes us feel the great respect for the spirit of the artists who worked here. There are so many things that bring us back to this era of flourishing of European art and culture! The Grand Studio of Rubens in Antwerp is a symbolic place for the artistic circles in the Golden age of Flemish painting. Entering in the Grand studio, you can’t help but notice the two magnificent portraits located exactly opposite each other! Here, approximately 400 years after in this special place was presents Anthony (Antoon) van Dyck himself, today we can see his two gleaming Self-Portraits! Here, in the Grand studio of another great artist Peter Paul Rubens! In his teen years Antoon van Dyck crossed the threshold of one of the most prestigious and renowned art schools of its time. The Grand studio of Rubens in Antwerp still keepeth the great creative spirit and atmosphere where they was worked, waged talks and discussions some of the most famous artists of all time and where we can see almost four centuries later in the same this space their magnificent masterpieces!

In 1599, into a prosperous family in Antwerp was born a future great Flemish painter Antoon van Dyck. Only 16 years later, in 1615, the boy who from an early age showed exceptional endowment and talent as a painter becomes an independent artist, which is rare for this time. Barely attained the age fifteen years he manifests himself as highly talented painter, as evidenced by his self-portrait made in 1613/14. Two main teachers have contributed to the development of his extraordinary talent. Initially, he studied painting at Hendrick van Balen, renowned and reputable artist and mentor in Antwerp. During these years he met and befriended the younger than him Jan Brueghel the Younger. Aged around 17-18 years Antoon van Dyck became the chief assistant of Peter Paul Rubens - one of the most authoritative painters in Antwerp and throughout Western Europe. Simultaneously learning and working as a subcontractor in the numerous orders to his own famous workshop, The Grand Studio of Rubens! He has a great influence on the young Van Dyck and not accidentally Rubens indicates the young nineteen-year-old Van Dyke as his the best pupil.  

The further creative path of Anthony Van Dyck is associated with periods of travel and work in Italy and especially in England. For the first time he arrived in England in 1620. His stay was short, but fails to be presented to King James I and after four months he returned to Flanders. He decides to go to Italy. There he remained until 1627. studying the Italian masters and here began his successful career as a portraitist. After a successful six years in Italy, he returned to Antwerp. During this period he created many wonderful works-masterpieces. At the beginning of the 30s of the 17th century his glory of a brilliant portrait painter reached the English court and in 1632 he arrived in London at the invitation of King Charles I. Anthony Van Dyck became renowned royal portraitist by painting portraits of members of the royal family and numerous courtiers personages and noblemen, also self-portraits, which until today are among of the most impressive works of portraiture, testifies to the glamorous talent of their author! Very soon the English king produces him in knighted and in 1633 Anthony van Dyck received the title of "royal painter."

Sir Anthony Van Dyck has a big influence on English portrait painting and some of his followers consider him the founder of the English school of painting.
The great artist died too early, just 42 years old, in 1641. Anthony Van Dyck was buried in London, in the Cathedral "St. Paul”. As part of his creative heritage and as a tribute the artistic circles in England recognize the typical costume "Van Dyck". A special pigment for oil painting "brown Van Dyck" is named after him.

Two Self-portraits in Rubenshius, Antwerpen:
Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641)
1. Self-portrait, 1616/17, oil on panel, 36.5 × 25.8 cm, Rubenshuis, until recently attributed to Peter Paul Rubens.
2. Self-portrait, 1635/41, oil on canvas, oval 34.7 x 45.7 cm, private collection, long-term loan, in Rubenshuis since 2016.

Source of information: Rubenshuis, Wapper 9-11, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium.
Photos: personal archive.

Related images

In the Grand studio of Rubens, Antwerpen, Belgium

Self-portrait, 1635/41, Anthony van Dyck, Rubenshuis, Antwerpen

Self-portrait, 1635/41 (fragment), Anthony van Dyck, Rubenshuis, Antwerpen

Self-portrait, 1616/17 (fragment), Anthony van Dyck, Rubenshuis, Antwerpen

Self-portrait, 1616/17, Anthony van Dyck, Rubenshuis, Antwerpen

In the Grand studio of Rubens, Antwerpen, Belgium

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