Anthony Van Dyck, the favourite of princes
A favourite of European princes and sovereigns, Anthony Van Dyck was one of the greatest Flemish Baroque painters and one of the most admired portrait artists of all time.
He was born in Antwerp in 1599, the son of a rich silk merchant, and showed exceptional talent at an early age; at 16, he had enough experience to train an apprentice and at 19 became a master of the Saint Luc guild in Antwerp. He then became an independent painter and the main assistant to Rubens. His journey to England and Italy in 1621 established him as a portrait artist. When he returned to Antwerp, he acquired several important clients, and word of his reputation reached Charles I of England, who summoned him to London, appointed him a knight and took his career to new heights.
The development of Van Dyck's talent corresponded to the different stages of his life. His first influence was his then master, Rubens. His style developed during his travels in Italy, as he began to focus on portraits, the attitude of the models and the décor. In the portraits he produced in England, membership of the social milieu was more important than the individual's psychological features, so the important social status of his models was brought to the fore.