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Key facts
Full title Self portrait
Artist Anthony van Dyck
Artist dates 1599 - 1641
Date made about 1640
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 56 × 46 cm
Acquisition credit On loan from the National Portrait Gallery: Purchased with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Art Fund in honour of David Verey CBE (Chairman of the Art Fund 2004-2014), the Portrait Fund, The Monument Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Aldama Foundation, the Deborah Loeb Brice Foundation, Sir Harry Djanogly CBE, Mr and Mrs Michael Farmer. Matthew Freud, Catherine Green, Dr Bendor Grosvenor, Alexander Kahane, the Catherine Lewis Foundation, the Material World Foundation, The Sir Denis Mahon Charitable Trust, Cynthia Lovelace Sears, two major supporters who wish to remain anonymous, and many contributions from the public following a joint appeal by the National Portrait Gallery and the Art Fund, 2014
Inventory number L1301
Location Room 21
Art route(s) B
Image copyright On loan from the National Portrait Gallery: Purchased with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Art Fund in honour of David Verey CBE (Chairman of the Art Fund 2004-2014), the Portrait Fund, The Monument Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Aldama Foundation, the Deborah Loeb Brice Foundation, Sir Harry Djanogly CBE, Mr and Mrs Michael Farmer. Matthew Freud, Catherine Green, Dr Bendor Grosvenor, Alexander Kahane, the Catherine Lewis Foundation, the Material World Foundation, The Sir Denis Mahon Charitable Trust, Cynthia Lovelace Sears, two major supporters who wish to remain anonymous, and many contributions from the public following a joint appeal by the National Portrait Gallery and the Art Fund, 2014
Collection Main Collection
Self portrait
Anthony van Dyck

This highly realistic and engaging painting is Van Dyck’s last known self portrait. Seated in profile, his head is turned sharply to look out at the viewer, as though he has been caught in a moment. His long hair is swept back to expose his waxy complexion and tiny flecks of white paint reflect a glimmer of light in his eye. In contrast to the attention to detail he gives to his face, Van Dyck uses expressive brushstrokes to paint his wide collar and elaborate dress. The dynamic handling adds to the vitality of the image.

Van Dyck had arrived in London in 1632 to work for Charles I. Shortly after his arrival, he was knighted and appointed ‘principalle Paynter in Ordenarie to their Majesties’. He achieved great success as the leading painter for the royal family and the English aristocracy. His wealth of experience is reflected in his confident expression and technique in this portrait.

This work is thought to have been owned by Sir Peter Lely (1618–1680), court painter to Charles II. Its elaborate oval frame dates from the seventeenth century and matches a frame that surrounds a self portrait by the English painter William Dobson (1611–1646), which was in the same collection for many years.

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