DYCK, Sir Anthony van
(b. 1599, Antwerpen, d. 1641, London)

Portrait of Sir Thomas Wharton

Oil on canvas, 217 x 128 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

As court painter to Charles I of England between 1632 and 1641 van Dyck fully revealed his talent for formal portraiture. In his depictions of English aristocrats, the subjects' lofty status and strong qualities are conveyed not just by pose and attributes, but also by purely painterly features: resonant colour combinations, exquisite texture, free brushwork. A devotion to a grand style that permitted an artistically uninhibited manner became, through van Dyck's example, a distinguishing feature of English painting.