This engraving, showing a bust of the celebrated portraitist Anthony van Dyck, depicts the artist looking over one shoulder, towards the viewer. The head, curling hair and moustache are expertly executed by the artist himself.
The sheet was published as the title page to a series of prints after works by van Dyck, known as ‘Centum Icones’. Publisher Gillis Hendricx purchased 80 plates after van Dyck, which had formerly been published by Martin van den Enden. To these he added 15 plates etched by van Dyck himself and six plates after the artist, for which he had been the original publisher. He issued these 101 plates as a single volume in 1645, after van Dyck’s death. This example of the title page is taken from the second edition of the work, published before 1665, which had no date on the page.
The plate for this print was etched by van Dyck himself when he was almost 30 years old. However, it was then a self portrait of the head only, with a single curved line to indicate the edge of the collar. When Hendricx acquired the plate he employed engraver Jacob Neeff to add the drapery, base of the bust, pedestal and title to van Dyck’s plate using a burin, leaving the artist’s own etching work untouched.
Sir Anthony van Dyck was born in Antwerp. Early in his career he was an assistant to Peter Paul Rubens. He first visited England between November 1620 and February 1621, where his work impressed King James I. He then travelled to Italy, staying until the autumn of 1627, before returning to Antwerp. During his time in Italy, van Dyck developed as a portrait painter, painting mostly wealthy merchant-princes. His style evolved under the influence of works by Titian and Veronese. In 1632 he returned to England, where he became 'Principal Painter in Ordinary' to Charles I. The following year he was knighted. His portraits of the royal family enhanced their prestige at home and abroad and his work had a profound influence on British portraiture.
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