Anthony van Dyck, Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel , a portrait drawing

London, England
Around AD 1620

Thomas Howard (1585-1646), Earl of Arundel, was fully aware of van Dyck's artistic importance and probably persuaded him to come to London for the first time in 1620, where he painted the Earl's portrait (J. Paul Getty Museum, California). This black chalk preparatory drawing was probably made for a large dynastic or family portrait of the Earl with his grandchildren.

The powerful image of the Earl with his staff of office (as Earl Marshal of England) is seen from below as if raised on a platform. He looks down on us, his robes strongly modelled with broadly handled chalk to create the shadows. The touches of white indicate highlights on the costume. His chair is only lightly sketched so that we focus on the sitter alone.

The Earl was a well-travelled statesman at the court of King Charles I (reigned 1625-49). He was renowned as a collector of art, and notably he owned drawings by Leonardo, Parmigianino and Holbein. He was also an active patron of living artists such as Inigo Jones, Rubens and van Dyck. His collection of classical sculptures (now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford) was also of high quality. It was much admired by Rubens, who was reported to have said of Arundel that he was 'one of the four evangelists and supporters of our art'.

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More information


L. Stainton and C. White, Drawing in England from Hillia (London, The British Museum Press, 1987)

Sir O. Millar, Van Dyck in England (London, National Portrait Gallery, 1982)

D. Howarth (ed.), Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel (Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, 1985)


Height: 484.000 mm
Width: 356.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1854-5-13-16



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