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The First Georgians

Art and Monarchy 1714-1760

ANTHONY VAN DYCK (1599-1641)

Portrait of a Man

c. 1630

Oil on canvas | 70.9 x 59.3 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 406036

This was until recently believed to be a contemporary copy after a lost Van Dyck portrait. It has however been convincingly suggested that this is the Van Dyck original; the handling certainly has the freshness and vigour of an original rather than a copy and the quality is sufficient to suggest Van Dyck's hand. The sitter cannot be identified but the portrait belongs to the artist's second Flemish period (c.1630), when he painted a number of heads which are loosely finished and many of them, like this one, set in a fictive oval frame by a later hand. It has been suggested that they may have been from-the-life studies for Van Dyck’s most prestigious commission, the group portrait of 23 Brussels city councillors, destroyed in 1695. Text adapted from The First Georgians: Art and Monarchy 1714-1760, London, 2014.

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