Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641)
Justice Flanked by Seven Magistrates of the City of Brussels, ca. 1634
Oil on panel, squared in oil
10 3/8 × 23 in. (26.3 × 58.5 cm)
École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris
In August 1695, a French bombardment largely destroyed the famous town hall of Brussels and its art collections, including two large group portraits by Van Dyck depicting the city’s magistrates. The second of these compositions is recorded in this oil sketch, which depicts seven of the city’s magistrates flanking the figure of Justice. The compositional sketch was squared in the wet paint to enlarge the design (the final canvas may have measured as much as ten by twenty-six feet) and supplemented by studies in black and white chalk of costume and pose, as well as detailed head studies of the individual figures.