Born into a prosperous mercantile family in Antwerp, Van Dyck had, by age ten, registered with the city’s Guild of St. Luke as an apprentice under Hendrick van Balen. By 1618, he had qualified as a master and was soon working in Peter Paul Rubens’s workshop. After a brief period in England, Van Dyck traveled, in 1621, to the Italian peninsula, where he spent about six years as part of a thriving Flemish community of artists and dealers, producing works for private patrons and public institutions in Genoa, Rome, and Palermo. In Italy, he studied the work of contemporary and sixteenth-century artists; Titian, in particular, had a transformative impact on his production. He returned to Antwerp in 1627 and settled in England in 1632 as Painter-in-Ordinary to King Charles I and his wife, Henrietta Maria. A skilled draftsman and printmaker, Van Dyck painted religious and mythological scenes but is best known for his penetrating portraits of European elites on the eve of the English Civil War (1642–51), which he did not live to see. He died at age forty-two from an unknown illness, leaving in his will the majority of his considerable estate to his wife, Mary Ruthven (m. 1640); their newborn daughter, Justiniana (b. 1641); and Maria Theresa, a daughter born out of wedlock, likely in the early 1620s. He was buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.