Past Exhibition

Gaspar de Crayer

black chalk drawing of man wearing cloak and large ruffle collar, holding portfolio wrap

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641)
Gaspar de Crayer, ca. 1627–35
Black chalk
9 5/8 × 7 1/2 in. (24.3 × 19 cm)
The Duke of Devonshire and the Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement, Chatsworth, Derbyshire

The painter Gaspar de Crayer dominated the market for altarpieces in seventeenth-century Brussels. Van Dyck’s drawing is highly finished, but for his engraving, Paulus Pontius worked instead from an intermediary grisaille, the tonal richness of which could communicate Van Dyck’s intentions better than a chalk drawing. De Crayer holds a portfolio in the drawing, which Pontius reworked as part of the cape slung over the sitter’s right shoulder. It is not clear if Van Dyck intended the portfolio to melt away into De Crayer’s robes in the sketch or if Pontius simply misread the dark lower part of the grisaille. The portfolio, a reference to De Crayer’s art, may have seemed too vulgar an attribute for a socially ambitious artist whose career progressed from a seat on the Brussels council in 1627 to an appointment at the archducal court in 1635.