self portrait etching of Anthony Van Dyck, depicting man's face with curly hair and mustache at top of page

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641)
Self-Portrait, ca. 1627–35
Etching (first state)
9 5/8 × 6 1/8 in. (24.4 × 15.6 cm)
The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

A masterpiece of seventeenth-century printmaking, Van Dyck’s etched self-portrait is as remarkable for its technique as for its unfinished appearance. The painter’s handsome features float at the top of a sheet that is otherwise empty, save for the light scratches in the copper plate from which it was pulled. The state would not have been considered final by any standard of the time, but it is clear from the surviving impressions that it was marketed and appreciated as an exceptional work of art. The plate was later finished with a burin to serve as the frontispiece of the earliest known edition of the Iconographie.

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