Van Dyck and his Patrons

Toby Osborne looks back over the career of Van Dyck, on the 400th anniversary of his death.

The Dutch Master, Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641), court painter to Charles I, was without doubt one of the most shining lights of the Golden Age of the arts in the Low Countries, which was centred on his own native city of Antwerp. The city was home to some of Europe's most brilliant craftsmen, and the sheer range of their products is a testament to the vibrancy of the city's artistic culture - tapestries, silverware, glassware, musical instruments, books and, most famously, paintings. Two individuals stand out above all during this remarkable age, Peter-Paul Rubens (1577-1640) and his near-contemporary, Van Dyck.

1999 marks the four-hundredth anniversary of Van Dyck's birth, and the year is being commemorated with no less than five exhibitions in Antwerp, two of which are coming to London, including the largest-ever collection of his portraits, and his religious and historical paintings.

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