Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture

Exhibition Dates:

March 2 through June 5, 2016

Painting of woman in blue dress

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641), one of the most celebrated and influential portraitists of all time, enjoyed an international career that took him from his native Flanders to Italy, France, and, ultimately, the court of Charles I in England. Van Dyck’s elegant manner and convincing evocation of a sitter’s inner life—whether real or imagined—made him the favorite portraitist of many of the most powerful and interesting figures of the seventeenth century. His sitters—poets, duchesses, painters, and generals—represent the social and artistic elite of his age, and his achievement in portraiture marked a turning point in the history of European painting. Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture, on view only at New York’s Frick Collection, looks comprehensively at the artist’s activity and process as a portraitist. It is also the first major exhibition devoted to his work to be held in the United States in more than twenty years. Through approximately one hundred works, the show explores the versatility and inventiveness of a portrait specialist, the stylistic development of a draftsman and painter, and the efficiency and genius of an artist in action. Organized chronologically around the different geographic chapters of Van Dyck’s career, the exhibition documents the artist’s development from an ambitious young apprentice into the most sought-after portrait painter in Europe. The show also includes a small selection of comparative works by Van Dyck’s contemporaries, including Rubens, Jordaens, and Lely, and a special installation of the Iconographie, Van Dyck’s celebrated series of portrait prints. Lenders to the exhibition include the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the British Museum and National Gallery in London, the Prado Museum in Madrid, and major private collectors such as the Duke of Devonshire and the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry.

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