Flemish painter. He was an assistant to Rubens from 1618 to 1620, then worked briefly in England at the court of James I before moving to Italy in 1622. In 1627 he returned to his native Antwerp, where he continued to paint religious works and portraits. From 1632 he lived in England and produced numerous portraits of royalty and aristocrats, such as Charles I on Horseback (about 1638; National Gallery, London).
The Italian period (1621–27), is marked by his portraits, which gained in dignity from his Venetian studies, those he produced in Genoa, such as the Marchese Cattaneo (National Gallery, London), being notable; baroque religious painting also widened his range of style and composition. He returned to Antwerp as the rival of Rubens, having his own flourishing studio, and between 1628 and 1632 reached a peak of development. To this period belong his Iconography – a set of etchings of distinguished contemporaries – and religious works in a personal version of baroque unlike that of Rubens, The Ecstasy of St Augustine (church of St Augustine, Antwerp), being a fine example.
Living in England from 1632, by invitation of Charles I, he began a record of the royal family and English aristocracy. His refinement of style and colour, and dignity of composition, left a profound impression on subsequent portraiture in England.
As the pupil of Hendrik van Balen, van Dyck developed quickly, and at the age of 19 was one of Rubens's many assistants, becoming in two years his most favoured and brilliant pupil, closely related to him in style. Introduced to the court of James I by the Earl of Arundel, he stayed in England for a year, then in 1621 set off for Italy, visiting a number of cities and being especially impressed by the great Venetians, Titian above all.
The portrait of Charles I, now in the Louvre, and the many memorable works still in the Royal Collection, are distinct creations and, despite the large extent to which van Dyck employed studio assistants, never fall into superficiality. His landscape studies (British Museum) anticipate John Constable in conveying the atmosphere of the English countryside.
He was knighted by Charles I in 1632.
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