Anthony van Dyck
Flemish Baroque artist



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Anthony van Dyck
Flemish Baroque artist

Birth Date

March 22, 1599

Death Date

December 09, 1641

Sr. Contributor

Anthony van Dyck's a hustler, baby.

Anthony showed a lot of talent early on. Which made it pretty easy to climb the ladder of artistic success, what with his rich silk merchant father around to grease wheels. Anthony moved up to the big leagues at 14 when he became Peter Paul Rubens' MVP at the master's studio in Antwerp. Rubens was quick to make van Dyck his chief assistant. By 17, van Dyck's on his own and Rubens sees him as a threat.

Rubens never lost the crown as best-in-Flanders, but he thought Antwerp was too small for van Dyck as a competitor. So, Rubens got van Dyck off the continent by pulling strings to get the boy an appointment with the English court for King James I. Van Dyck wasn't having English life, and threatened to come back to Antwerp. Rubens called in some more favors and got friends in Genoa to throw van Dyck some work. Anthony became enamored with the Venetian school and used his Italian time between commissions to learn from the works of Titian and others.

After Anthony left Italy, Rubens was out of Antwerp for a couple years on business. Van Dyck cozied in on some major Antwerp commissions, acting the Zuckerberg to Rubens' Winklevoss twins. Rubens didn't have to retaliate, though, as England's new king, Charles I, solved the van Dyck problem. Charles made Anthony England's #1 painter, offering a salary, with a sick gold chain and a couple estates as a signing bonus. Van Dyck poured out one portrait after another for the English court. Charles was so pleased, he knighted van Dyck. The Flemish painter was so influential on the British Isles that his facial hair became a vogue style, known, of course, as the Van Dyke beard.

Van Dyck tried to move on to greener pastures as revolution fomented among the English. He made a failed play to become head honcho of the art cartel in Antwerp following Rubens' death. He struck out with the Low Countries' Spanish overlords. Then, Paris' king nixed his advances. Out of options, he rolled the dice and moved back to London. He caught a cold en route to London and died shortly after his return. England plunged into Civil War a year later. King Charles was executed in some mob justice, partly due to how much he spent on extravagances like court artists while the people starved.

It's possible to own a van Dyck today and not even know. A 2013 episode of Antiques Roadshow featured the rediscovery of a lost van Dyck. Valued at $573,000, it's the most expensive art the show's ever uncovered. The unassuming couple paid just $500 or so for the work a year earlier. In Jan. 2016, Turkish police arrested a couple of businessmen from smuggling a $4 million van Dyck out of the country. The businessmen are additionally accused of defrauding the van Dyck from a resident of the country Georgia, who bought it in a shop for $5000.


Born March 22, 1599 - Died December 9, 1641

Born into the upper middle class parent in Antwerp, he hung out with Jan Brueghel the Younger.

Ridiculously talented. He painted the self portrait above when he was fifteen and became chief assistant to Rubens at age 19. Rubens called him "the best of my pupils".

He was a bit of a dandy, very charming, and very comfortable hanging out with aristocrats. This gave him great access to wealthy patrons and inspired jealousy among some of his fellow artists who thought that van Dyck was a bit too big for his britches.

Court painter to several European royal families, but spent most of his career working for King Charles I of England. Instagram had not been invented yet, so paintings were the way to go if you wanted to send pictures of yourself to people, so van Dyck ended up painting over forty portraits of the king and thirty of the queen.

He had two daughters, one by his wife and one by his mistress.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Anthony van Dyck

Sir Anthony van Dyck (Dutch pronunciation: [vɑn ˈdɛi̯k], many variant spellings; 22 March 1599 – 9 December 1641) was a Flemish Baroque artist who became the leading court painter in England after success in the Southern Netherlands and Italy.

The seventh child of Frans van Dyck, a wealthy Antwerp silk merchant, Anthony was precocious as a youth and painted from an early age. In his late teens he was already enjoying success as an independent painter, becoming a master in the Antwerp guild in 1618. By this time he was working in the studio of the leading northern painter of the day, Peter Paul Rubens, who became a major influence on his work. Van Dyck worked in London for some months in 1621, then returned to Flanders for a brief time, before travelling to Italy, where he stayed until 1627, mostly based in Genoa. In the late 1620s he completed his greatly admired Iconography series of portrait etchings, mostly of other artists. He spent five years after his return from Italy in Flanders, and from 1630 was court painter for the archduchess Isabella, Habsburg Governor of Flanders. In 1632 he returned to London to be the main court painter, at the request of Charles I of England.

With the exception of Holbein, van Dyck and his contemporary Diego Velázquez were the first painters of pre-eminent talent to work mainly as court portraitists, revolutionising the genre. He is best known for his portraits of European aristocracy, most notably Charles I and his family and associates; Van Dyck became the dominant influence on English portrait-painting for the next 150 years. He also painted mythological and biblical subjects, including altarpieces, displayed outstanding facility as a draughtsman, and was an important innovator in watercolour and etching. His superb brushwork, apparently rather quickly painted, can usually be distinguished from the large areas painted by his many assistants. His portrait style changed considerably between the different countries he worked in, culminating in the relaxed elegance of his last English period. His influence extends into the modern period; the Van Dyke beard is named after him. During his lifetime, Charles I granted him a knighthood, and he was buried in St Paul's Cathedral, an indication of his standing at the time of his death.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Anthony van Dyck.