The Iconographie and Other Early Portrait Prints after Van Dyck
Van Dyck consolidated his reputation as Europe’s foremost portraitist through the publication of prints. His main endeavor in the medium, a series of prints of his portraits known as the Iconographie, reproduced likenesses of some of the most famous crowned heads, military men, scholars, and artists of the time, dating to the first years after his return to Flanders from Italy in 1627. A first edition appeared in 1632, but no copy is preserved, and the genesis and further evolution of the series remains enigmatic. Van Dyck himself etched the first state of some of the prints, in an intuitive graphic style that elevated him to the ranks of the best printmakers of all time. A selection of prints from the series and three additional prints possibly published during Van Dyck’s lifetime are on view in this Cabinet, while the largest group ever assembled of drawings and oil sketches made in preparation for the Iconographie is exhibited downstairs in the South Gallery.