Sir Anthony van Dyck Self Portrait to Feature in Sotheby’s Sale

Sotheby’s announced that its forthcoming Evening Sale of Old Master and Early British Paintings in London on Wednesday, December 9, 2009 will include an outstanding self portrait by Sir Anthony van Dyck, one of the most important artists to have worked in England.

van DyckThis masterpiece, which is van Dyck’s last portrait of himself, was painted in London in 1641 in the final months of his life. It is one of only three self portraits that the artist painted in England and it captures him grandly attired in a black and white silk doublet. The painting has been in the same family collection since 1712, a period of almost 300 years. It was one of the star exhibits of the recent Van Dyck & Britain show at Tate Britain and comes to the market with exemplary provenance and an estimate of £2-3 million. It ranks among the most important paintings by van Dyck ever to come to the auction market.

The painting last appeared on the market in 1712, when it left the collection of Richard Graham and entered that of the family of its current owners. Prior to that – towards the latter part of the 17th century – it is understood to have belonged to Sir Peter Lely. A favored pupil of van Dyck, Lely subsequently established himself as the leading painter at the Court of Charles II. He succeeded van Dyck as the most fashionable portrait artist in England.

Talking about the portrait David Moore-Gwyn, deputy Chairman , UK and Senior Specialist in Early British Paintings at Sotheby’s, comments: “This is by far and away the most important portrait by van Dyck to come to auction in my 35-year career at Sotheby’s. It is an exceptional painting by one of the most important artists to have worked in Britain . We are delighted to be offering collectors the opportunity to acquire such a rare and unparalleled work by an artist who revolutionized the English portrait.”

Born in Antwerp in March 1599 and a highly accomplished talent from a young age, Sir Anthony van Dyck first travelled to England in 1620. He later settled in England in 1632, where he became the court painter of King Charles I and he single-handedly defined the image of the Stuart monarchy. His influence over portraiture in Britain was and continues to be profound, not only within his own lifetime but on successive generations of artists, including Reynolds and Gainsborough. His sophisticated and elegant style was widely copied and developed by future generations of artists, who admired his work, and as a result he was responsible for setting portrait painting in Britain on an entirely new course. Talking about van Dyck’s influence in the catalogue for the recent Van Dyck & Britain exhibition at Tate Britain, Stephen Deuchar, the former Director, Tate Britain stated: “Sir Anthony van Dyck was the most profoundly influential of that succession of European-born artists who were to work in England and so notably nurture its artistic growth from the 16th to the 18th centuries.”

Image; Sir Anthony van Dyck, Self Portrait, oil on canvas, est: £2-3 million. Photo: Sotheby’s.

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