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Van Dyck

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VAN DYCK, dik, Anthonis, Flemish painter : b. Antwerp, 22 March 1599; d. London, 9 Dec. 1641. He was born of wealthy parents, his father being Frans Van Dyck, a prominent silk merchant. Young Van Dyck very early displayed a fondness for drawing and especially for the sketching of faces, for which he showed such talent that his father sent him, at the age of 10, as a resident pupil to the noted painter and art teacher, Hendrik Van Balen, where he made such rapid progress that at the age of 16 he had gone into partnership in Antwerp with Jan Brughel the younger as portrait painter and general artist. He is said to have inherited much of his artistic talent from his young mother, Maria Cuypers, his father's second wife, who was noted in Antwerp for her won derful skill and taste in the making of em broidery, much of her work in this field being real art creations. Van Dyck was not long a free lance when he attracted the attention of Rubens, who was so impressed with the boy's talent that he took him into his own household and made him his assistant. This pleased young Van Dyck, his father and his mother and the precocious pupil of the great Flemish master made rapid progress. He had wonder ful power of exact observation and ability for reproduction, and his imitation of Rubens' work was so well done that to-day it is extremely difficult to distinguish the paintings of the pupil from those of the master. Before he had reached his majority Van Dyck had already be come famous in his own country and had be gun to attract attention outside of it. ' At the age of 19 he was elected a member of the Painters' Guild and the following year he went to England on the invitation of the Earl of Arundel, who had formed a very high opinion of his talent and the superior quality of his work. Through the influence of the latter he secured a pension from the English king, James I. This introduction to the English court was of very considerable influence on his future career. He remained two years in England where he greatly increased his reputation and became very popular. The English angli cised his name to Anthony Vandyke, a title under which he was destined to acquire un dying fame throughout all English-speaking lands. The longing to see the great southern art capitals took Van Dyck to Italy (with the permission of the English sovereign) in 1622, where he visited Venice and Genoa and where he received a warm welcome, studied the old masters and produced fine pictures of his own, especially portraits of celebrities, among them artists, rulers, statesmen and princes. His por

traits of the Genoese nobility are especially notable and of great historic value because of the masterly manner in which he has reproduced the customs, dress, habits and spirit of the Italian ducal courts. Van Dyck made a most careful, detailed and loving study of the Vene tian masters; and the influence of this study of Italian art was deeply reflected in his own work which became more artistic in almost every sense of the word. Under the influence of the great Italian painters of the day he gradually changed his style for the better, mak ing it brighter, more realistic, softer, more re fined and more human. His wonderful power of absorption stood him in as good stead in Italy as it had under the tuition of Rubens in his boyhood. In a word, he seized the spirit of Italian art, so different from that of his own Flemish land in which he had been educated.

This is one of the greatest signs of his genius. This Italian period of his life was wonderfully prolific and resulted in many portraits of royal personages, which still adorn the walls of Italian ducal palaces and museums where they are held in high estimation. He worked in the art and picture galleries of Turin, Rome and probably other Italian cities; and everywhere he had the patronage of the local nobility, for sitting for portraits to Van Dyck had become the fashion of the day in courtly circles. On invitation of Albert and ,Isabella, Spanish regents of the Netherlands, he returned to the land of his birth as court painter; and here again he continued his triumphant art procession, painting all the local celebrities of his day with out allowing his popularity to appreciably lower the high standard of his work. In 1631 Van Dyck went to Holland where he was literally received with open arms and where he painted the portraits of notable persons, among them Prince Henry of Orange and his queen, Prince Charles Louis and Prince Rupert of Bohemia (both then in exile).

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