Room 31

Anthony Van Dyck

Anthony van Dyck and his teacher Peter Paul Rubens were the two most distinguished Flemish painters of the 17th century. After enjoying great success as a portrait painter in London, Genoa and Antwerp, Van Dyck’s career reached its peak in 1632, when he returned to England to become court painter to King Charles l.

Van Dyck’s genius as a portraitist lay in his talent for capturing the aspirations of his sitters. Whether using a low viewpoint to make his subjects look taller, depicting them in rich settings and with elegant accessories, or endowing them with a confident gaze, Van Dyck excelled at portraying his patrons looking their best. Rubens’s teaching and the profound impact of Titian’s work encouraged Van Dyck to adopt a free and loose brushwork and use more vibrant colours.

Also on view in this room are Northern Mannerist paintings by Joachim Wtewael and Hendrik Goltzius. Inspired by art produced in Italy and Central Europe, Mannerist painters in the Netherlands depicted biblical and mythological subjects using dynamic compositions, virtuoso light effects, and idealised figures in contorted poses. Rubens also experimented with a Mannerist style early in his career.