Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641)
Johann of Nassau-Siegen, Standing, Wearing Armor, ca. 1634
Black chalk, heightened with white chalk, on blue paper
The British Museum, London
Briefly returning to the Southern Netherlands in 1634, Van Dyck busied himself with portraits of Brussels courtiers. These included two portraits of Johann VIII, Count of Nassau-Siegen, a territory of the Holy Roman Empire. The count was a Catholic convert who served as a general for the Hapsburgs in the Southern Netherlands, at war with his own Protestant family. In the portrait that this sketch prepares, Johann appears as a military commander, wearing armor that is the focus of Van Dyck’s sketch, its sheen skillfully evoked by a few highlights in white chalk.