Sotheby’s Old Master department announced today that it would be selling a self portrait of Sir Anthony van Dyck that has been in the same family for nearly 300 years during its December Old Master painting sales in London.
The painting, which is van Dyck’s last portrait of himself, was made in London in 1641 in the final months of his life. One of only three self portraits he painted in England, the remaining two are in the collection of the Duke of Westminster and in the Prado Museum in Madrid. This last self portrait was one of the star exhibits of the recent Van Dyck & Britain show at Tate Britain.
The painting last appeared on the market in 1712, when it lwas sold by Richard Graham. Prior to that – towards the end of the 17th century – it seems to have belonged to Sir Peter Lely. A pupil of van Dyck, Lely later became the leading painter at the Court of Charles II, succeeding van Dyck as the most fashionable portrait artist in England. Sotheby’s synopsizes his career thus:
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.