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Anthony van Dyck, 'Portrait of a Woman and Child', about 1620-1

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Woman and Child
Artist Anthony van Dyck
Artist dates 1599 - 1641
Date made about 1620-1
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 131.5 × 106.2 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1914
Inventory number NG3011
Location Room 21
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Woman and Child
Anthony van Dyck

The glorious colours in this portrait are equalled by the delicacy and sensitivity with which Van Dyck has captured an intimate moment between us and an unknown woman and her little boy. She wears the formal clothing of an affluent bourgeois wife: a black silk dress with an elaborate gold stomacher, and fine lace and jewellery at her wrist. The child wears the voluminous skirts worn by all children, including boys up to the age of about five years old, but his hat marks him out as a boy.

During his early career, Van Dyck lived in Antwerp. He painted some of his least formal portraits in the city, mostly – like this one – of the bourgeois citizens and their families. The paintings Van Dyck made in Antwerp have more in common with the works of Rubens, his teacher, than they do with his later portraits of aristocrats, made when he was in England.

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