Sunday, March 13, 2016

Van Dyck Exhibition at the Frick

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641)
Self-Portrait, ca. 1620–21
 oil/canvas 47 1/8 × 34 5/8 in. (119.7 × 87.9 cm)
A major exhibition of the portrait art of Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) has opened at the Frick collection in New York. The exhibition contains about 100 drawings and paintings, making it the largest US exhibition of his work in over 20 years.

The show includes many of his supremely elegant finished portraits from Italy, France, Flanders, and England. But it also delves into his sketches and drawings, with considerable scholarship devoted to his preparatory sketches and working methods.

Anthony Van Dyck Portrait of a Woman, ca. 1640
29 7/8 × 23 1/4 in. (75.9 × 59.1 cm)
Speed Art Museum
About the portrait above, for example, the curators note:
"The treatment of the face is highly finished and refined, but the woman’s bust and hand await finishing glazes, and there are extensive areas of unpainted canvas that suggest a shawl wrapped around her body. As with many other works from his London studio, Van Dyck must have painted his sitter’s face from life, resulting in a halo still visible around her head. A workshop assistant would probably have completed the painting of the background and draperies before Van Dyck applied a few final touches."

For larger and more complex group portraits, Van Dyck painted individual studies from life. This one was only rediscovered in 2000 during an episode of Antiques Roadshow.

Van Dyck, drawing of Sebastiaan Vrancx, ca. 1628–31
 7 x 10 inches, black chalk
The show includes his informal sketches of fellow artists, which conveys the spirit of camaraderie that must have prevailed among working artists. Sebastiaan Vrancx was known for his landscapes and battle scenes, as well as being a poet, playwright, and book illustrator.
Catalogue: Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture
Online:  Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture, March 2, 2016 to June 5, 2016
Survey the exhibition in expandable thumbnails at their Visual index
Video lecture by Stijn Alsteens: "Drawing for Portraits"


Unknown said...

Thanks for letting us know about this show. I might not have heard about it otherwise.

Does it seem like Van Dyck always started his paintings with a very carefully done outline drawing?

Ricky Mujica said...

So much to learn from Van dyck.

Tom Hart said...

Given that the exhibit includes sketches and drawings, and especially (as you say) considerable scholarship on his preparatory work, I wonder if it will result in significant contribution to the discussion as to whether or not - and/or to what extent - he used a camera obscura. (Personally, I now lean toward the opinion that the controversy is overblown and that the significance given to the camera obscura is inflated.)

Unknown said...

Looking forward to meeting you over some Flemish oils...

Unknown said...

Looking forward to meeting you over some Flemish oils...