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Anthony van Dyck, 'William Feilding, 1st Earl of Denbigh', about 1633-4

Key facts
Full title William Feilding, 1st Earl of Denbigh
Artist Anthony van Dyck
Artist dates 1599 - 1641
Date made about 1633-4
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 247.5 × 148.5 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Count Antoine Seilern, 1945
Inventory number NG5633
Location Room 21
Collection Main Collection
William Feilding, 1st Earl of Denbigh
Anthony van Dyck

William Feilding, 1st Earl of Denbigh steps forward, gun in hand. He is shown life-size. We look up at him from below, which emphasises his commanding pose, but the elegance and urbanity usually present in Anthony van Dyck’s formal portraits seems to be missing. This is partly because of the Earl’s relaxed clothing – a mix of contemporary Indian and European fashion – and because the pose is a little contrived and awkward. The Indian servant boy points up at the parrot that the Earl can already see.

Van Dyck must have collaborated closely with his sitters, discussing dress and pose. He painted them as they wished to be seen but also presented their characters as they revealed themselves to him. The Earl had returned from a voyage to India and it is this trip that he must have wished to commemorate.

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