- Museum number
- Series: Icones Principum Virorum
Self-portrait of Anthony van Dyck, head only, looking towards the viewer over his right shoulder, with mid-length hair, moustache and goatee; first state before all lettering, pedestal, background and border, with a scratch through the right side of the moustache
- Production date
Height: 245 millimetres
Width: 155 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This is first state (etching only), made by Anthony van Dyck himself, Jacob Neefs finished the plate in engraving. For other impressions of the first state see also R,1b.50 and 1868,0822.806. For a counterproof of this state see also R,1b.44. For impressions of later states see R,1b.49; P,3.241; 1948,0315.1.82; and 1863,0509.819. The British Museum does not hold impressions of the second state (proof before letters) and the sixth state with the address of Verdussen. The copper-plate is kept in the Chalcographie, Musée du Louvre, Paris, inv.no. 2303.
The portrait is based on the self-portrait painting by Anthony van Dyck, now in a Swiss private collection (other versions are in a private collection in Melbourne, Australia and in the Uffizi, Florence); see S. Barnes, N. de Poorter, O. Millar and H. Vey, 'Van Dyck: A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings', Yale & London, 2004, cat.no.IV.A1.
This print (from the third lettered state onwards) was used as the frontispiece to Van Dyck's engraved portrait series, the Iconography (fully titled 'Icones Principum Virorum Doctorum Pictorum Chalcographorum Statuariorum nec non amatorum pictoriae artis numero centum ab Antonio Van Dyck Pictore ad vivum expressae, eiusq[ue] sumptibus aeri incisae', partly translated as 'rendered from life by the painter Anthony van Dyck and cut in copper at his expense').
Following the success of his portrait paintings and in the tradition of Italian and Flemish portrait series, Van Dyck decided to organise a print publication containing portraits of the most prominent men during his lifetime, divided into three categories: princes, politicians and soldiers (16), statesmen and scholars (12), artists and art connoisseurs (52). The initial idea could have been that Van Dyck would etch the faces (a process possibly learnt from Vorsterman) while others would finish the plates in engraving. Designs were needed for the plates and several drawings and oil sketches (grisailles, sometimes in different versions) have survived. Van Dyck only etched 17 plates himself, while he commissioned others to complete the set, overseen by Lucas Vorsterman I (especially after Van Dyck settled in England in the Spring of 1632).
Although this project was started by Van Dyck around 1630, he never saw it completed. The Antwerp publisher Maarten van den Enden may have been involved from the start as eighty early impressions bear Van den Enden's address. They are engraved by Paulus Pontius (30 plates), Lucas Vorsterman I (22), Pieter de Jode II (12), Schelte a Bolswert (7), Robert van Voerst (4), Willem Hondius (2), Willem Jacobsz Delff (1), Cornelis Galle (1), and Nicolaes Lauwers (1). It is known that Van den Enden was in debt to Gillis Hendricx around 1644, the Antwerp publisher who must have obtained Van den Enden's plates which he published in 1645 in the first edition of these plates (containing between 100 and 104 portrait plates). Hendricx continued to publish these plates until his death in 1677 when they were auctioned off by the St Luke guild (keeping the Iconography plates together). It is not clear who bought these plates but they re-appeared around 1720 when they were published by Hendrick and Cornelis Verdussen in Antwerp. Johannes Meyssens published a further 74 portraits afterwards. The plates were then sold by Hendrick's window in 1752 at auction (the lot containing 132 copper-plates), after which they were published by Arkstée and Merkus in Amsterdam and Leipzig. The name 'Iconographie' appears for the first time on the title-pages of their 1759 publication in two parts (aristocracy and military men; and artists), each portrait complemented by a biography in French. The Arkstée and Merkus edition also includes portrait prints after Rubens; for a bound set see 1935,1213.1.1-125. In 1851 the Chalcographie department purchased 124 copper-plates for 2,500 francs, where they are still kept today.
A leatherbound set of the Hendricx edition is in the Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam, inv.no.RP-P-2010-327.
Literature: C. Depauw and G. Luijten, 'Anthony van Dyck as a printmaker', ex.cat. Museum Plantin-Moretus/Stedelijk Prentenkabinet, Antwerp and Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1999, cat.no.5 and pp.72-91.
This print was issued as a black and white facsimile by the British Museum in 'Reproductions of Prints in the British Museum', Third Series Part IV (Specimens of Etching by Flemish Masters 1520-1650), Published by the Trustees, in 1910 where it was number XVIII and described there as 'Antony Van Dyck. Portrait of the Artist; first state'; see 1910,0523.8.18 (Shelfmark 245*.b.33).
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- For the argument that this probably comes from Cracherode, see R,1a.1
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number