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Anthony van Dyck (1599 - 1641)  Flemish, Baroque

The founder of the English school of Painting

Self Portrait With a Sunflower c. 1633

one of the greatest paintings of all time

Vandyck was not so much a ladies man as an incurable romantic. He was far fonder of reading a love poem and picnicking by a stream then drinking in a pub. He loved the company of women and was a strong believer of  equality among the sexes.  According to art historian S. SPOONER, M. D., "At the age of twenty, Vandyck set out for Italy, but delayed some time at Brussels, fascinated by the charms of a peasant girl of Saveltheim, named Anna van Ophem, who persuaded him to paint two pictures for the church of her native place—a St. Martin on horseback, painted from himself and the horse given him by Rubens; and a Holy Family, for which the girl and her parents were the models. On arriving in Italy, he spent some time at Venice, studying with great attention the works of Titian; after which he visited Genoa, and painted many excellent portraits for the nobility, as well as several pictures for the churches and private collections, which gained him great applause. From Genoa he went to Rome, where he was also much employed, and lived in great style. His portrait of Cardinal Bentivoglio, painted about this time, is one of his masterpieces, and in every respect an admirable picture; it is now in the Palazzo Pitti, at Florence, hanging near Raffaelle's celebrated portrait of Leo X. Vandyck was known at Rome as the Pittore Cavalieresco; his countrymen there being men of low and intemperate habits, he avoided their society, and was thenceforward so greatly annoyed by their criticisms and revilings, that he was obliged to leave Rome about 1625, and return to Genoa, where he met with a flattering reception, and plentiful encouragement. Invited to Palermo, he visited that city, and painted the portraits of Prince Philibert of Savoy, the Viceroy of Sicily, and several distinguished persons, among whom was the celebrated paintress Sofonisba Anguisciola, then in her 92d year; but the plague breaking out, he returned to Genoa, and thence to his own country."



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