Anthony Van Dyck and the Art of Portraiture

Sir Christopher White

Publication Date:
23 March 2021
300 pages: 280 x 230 mm
251 colour and 5 black & white

  • In this sumptuously illustrated volume, eminent art historian Sir Christopher White places the portraiture of renowned Flemish painter Anthony Van Dyck (1599–1641) in context among the work of his contemporaries working in and around the courts of seventeenth-century Europe. Van Dyck’s artistic development is charted through his travels, beginning in his native Antwerp, then to England, Italy, Brussels, the Hague, and back again. Combining historical insights with a discerning appreciation of the work, White brings Van Dyck’s paintings to life, showing how the virtuoso not only admired his artistic predecessors and rivals but refashioned what he learned from them into new kind of portraiture. Beautifully produced and a pleasure to read, this book is an important contribution to the literature on a celebrated painter.

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  • ‘This is one of a small number of substantial volumes, written by established art historians, and arising from considerable solid research, published in 2021 by Modern Art Press, London. White investigates Van Dyck’s extraordinary skills as a portrait painter and considers the various means by which he achieved the sheer beauty of many of his paintings. Van Dyck’s portraits are very helpfully discusses (and illustrated) in the context of his portraitist predecessors and contemporaries, especially those in the cities where he too would be employed.

    The numerous and well-chosen colour illustrations are often generously sized, including such spectacular details as Lady Shirley’s golden dress, the head of Agostino Pallavicini and the face of Henrietta Maria. Full of numerous insights, this book is a pleasure to read… It will act as an excellent, and much-needed, new introduction to Van Dyck’s life and work – and not only for students, for it will also be reader with profit and enjoyment by specialists.’ – Karen Hearn. Review published in The Burlington Magazine, March 2022


    ‘White’s approach is essentially comparative, built around a series of juxtapositions between Van Dyck’s portraits and those of other masters, most frequently Rubens. With a keen eye for compositional structure, the author is able to point out Van Dyck’s numerous departures from convention and precedent, making his formal innovations abundantly clear. Unlike many previous writers, White pays much attention to Van Dyck’s Northern sources and rivals, as well as the more obvious Italian inspirations. With a distinguished career at museums on both sides of the Atlantic, White has an encyclopedic firsthand knowledge of Van Dyck’s paintings, and his vivid descriptive passages transmit a contagious affection for the works under discussion.’  – Dr. Adam Eaker, Assistant Curator, European Paintings Department, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Review published by Historians of Netherlandish Art Reviews

    For the full review, please click here


    An ‘elegant and suggestive’ monograph – Xavier Solomon, deputy director and chief curator of the Frick Collection, New York,. Review published by The Art Newspaper, June 2021.

    For the full review, please click here


  • Sir Christopher White is a British art historian and curator specialising in Dutch Golden Age painting. Amongst other roles, he has served as Director of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and Keeper of the Ashmolean. He has written extensively on Dutch art, and in 2001 was knighted for services to art history.

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