Sir Anthony van Dyck was one of the leading court painters of his time. One of his most recognizable works is the Portrait of Charles I, king of England and his family; it gives details of the royal family, which was dominant for 150 years (Brown, 1999). He was also known as an artist of biblical and mythological subjects and renowned for the innovation of watercolour and etching. His talent was spotted during his early years of study by Hendrick van Balen and he became an independent painter since 1609. Anthony van Dyck was one of the most eminent painters of his time while still at a tender age. He became a chief assistant of the Antwerp painter, Peter Rubens.
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In 1620, van Dyck worked first time for King James I and James VI in England. He was impressed with works of Titian who used colors and subtle forms of modeling.This knowledge influenced his work as a painter. Based in Genoa, Italy, he developed a portrait style which became a great legacy for centuries. He made portraits of twenty- four City Councillors City of Brussels and Flemish patrons (Vlieghe, 2004). He was said to be the court painter of the Habsburg Governor and was known for the great altar pieces for the Roman Catholic Church.
King Charles I was admired by art and had a large collection of paintings. He was known for having the collection of Gonzaga which he was forced to get rid of in 1628. Van Dyck helped the king’s servant in searching for portraits that had gone missing. He also painted Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia, a sister of the King Charles (Levey, 1971).
Van Duck was knighted and even got a house outside London He achieved success in painting a large number of portraits of the royal families, some of them were sent as diplomatic gifts to the king’s supporters. It is estimated that he did over forty portraits of the king, about thirty of the Queen and several others of the court. His style was simple as well as classy (Levey, 1971). These portraits represented the reality of things as they were as good as the photographs that we have today. It gave the image of distinguished supremacy, nobility and sovereignty which was, unfortunately, broken off in the English Civil War soon after his death.
Portraits were in demand in the 17th century; van Dyck was a business minded person and he tried to convince the king to get the commission to do series of works of Grant Galleries in the Louvre but ran out of money before it was completed (Royalton-Kisch, 1999). The religious works done by van Dyck still exist and are intact as they were originally done. Despite all of his good work, van Dyck was criticized for using works of other artists and bringing elegance in them and making them more famous.
The Flemish watercolour landscape tradition was introduced to England (Levey, 1971). A painting of Rye, which was a sea port, was given as a present. It is suggested that it was done while waiting for tide. When Dyck went back to Antwerp, he started his Iconography which later became a large series of prints of portraits of prominent dignitaries.
Iconography was a creative innovation into the reproduction of prints; it gave an opportunity to revive forgotten paintings (Brown, 1999). His etching style involved dots and open lines more like tracing over the other great portraitists to come up with the best outcome of the works. Van Dyck maintained a large group of pupils in London. A number of works was produced by his workshop.
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