Anthony Van Dyck: 1599-1641

Off the Bookshelf

Anthony Van Dyck:

1599-1641

edited by Christopher Brown

Rizzoli, 359 pp., $75

Born on the eve of the 17th century, Anthony Van Dyck is, along with his mentor Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), one of the great Flemish painters. Page after page of full-color reproductions of his prodigious portraiture, including rarely viewed works from the British Royal Collection, prove Van Dyck wasn't just Rubens' best pupil, he was his equal by the time of their deaths a year apart. The religious paintings that characterize what's arguably his peak period, 1627-1631, during which time Van Dyck managed Rubens' studio in their hometown of Antwerp, might even be superior to his portraiture. Whatever the case, Van Dyck was fully formed as an artist by the time he was 15, as a stunning self-portrait of the artist on the title page here attests: "[Van Dyck] announces himself a prodigy, one of a very small number of artists who, by their early teens, had developed a technical facility which dazzled contemporaries."

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