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Anthony van Dyck, Self-portrait, an etching

Anthony van Dyck, Self-portrait, an etching (around AD 1630)


Height: 249.000 mm
Width: 159.000 mm

Bequeathed by Felix Slade

PD 1868-8-22-806 (Mauquoy-Hendrickx 4)

Prints and Drawings

    Anthony van Dyck, Self-portrait, an etching

    Flemish, around AD 1630 (state I)

    Printed from the unfinished plate

    This famous self-portrait captures the immediacy of an autograph drawing, while leaving the bust of the figure to be completed by a specialist engraver. The backward glance suggests spontaneous movement, while the stipple technique indicates that van Dyck had been inspired in Italy by the engraved portraits by Ottavio Leoni. The unfinished state may mean that van Dyck distributed the print in this form among the friends and patrons, who would have appreciated, too, the superior quality of an early impression.

    On his return to Flanders from Italy in 1628, van Dyck planned an ambitious project to publish portrait prints of distinguished contemporaries, which became known as his Iconographia. Initially he etched the heads, but he soon left all the printmaking to specialist engravers such as Paulus Pontius, supplying them with oil sketches and drawings from which to work. 52 of the 80 portraits published in the 1630s represent artists or art connoisseurs. They are shown elegantly dressed and at their ease, in a clear attempt to enhance the social status of the profession.

    After van Dyck's early death, the publisher Gillis Hendricx reissued the plates with this self-portrait as the title-page. A bust was added below and set on a base, with a Latin inscription announcing that the portraits were drawn from life by van Dyck, who had had them engraved at his own expense.

    C. Depauw and G. Luijten, Anthony van Dyck as a printmak, exh. cat. (Antwerpen Open, 1999)

    A. Griffiths (ed.), Landmarks in print collecting (London, The British Museum Press)


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