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SIR ANTHONY VAN DYCK (ANTWERP 1599-1641 LONDON)
SIR ANTHONY VAN DYCK (ANTWERP 1599-1641 LONDON)
SIR ANTHONY VAN DYCK (ANTWERP 1599-1641 LONDON)
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SIR ANTHONY VAN DYCK (ANTWERP 1599-1641 LONDON)
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PROPERTY OF A LADY
SIR ANTHONY VAN DYCK (ANTWERP 1599-1641 LONDON)

Head study of a man

Details
SIR ANTHONY VAN DYCK (ANTWERP 1599-1641 LONDON)
Head study of a man
oil on canvas
23 x 14 7/8 in. (58.4 x 37.8 cm.)
Provenance
Acquired by the late husband of the present owner before 1993

Brought to you by

Clementine Sinclair
Clementine Sinclair Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Executed with tremendous freedom and brio, this hitherto unrecorded head study is a fine example of van Dyck’s masterful ad vivum painting technique and ability to capture a likeness with speed and deft handling of the brush. Dr. Christopher Brown, to whom we are grateful, has confirmed the attribution after first-hand inspection and dates the work to the period after van Dyck moved his studio from Antwerp to Brussels in 1633/34, shortly before his departure for England in March of the following year. The picture can be compared with van Dyck’s series of head studies associated with the celebrated
Magistrates of Brussels commission, painted in 1634 and destroyed during the French bombardment of Brussels in 1695: including the two sketches in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (see H. Vey, in S.J. Barnes et. al., Van Dyck: A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, New Haven and London, 2004, pp. 388-89, nos. III.196 and III.197); a further two in private collections (see S. Alsteens and A. Eaker, Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture, exhibition catalogue, The Frick Collection, New York, 2016, pp. 128-133, nos. 32 and 33); and one sold in these Rooms, 2 December 2014, lot 16 (£494,500). Like those head sketches, the present work would have been rapidly taken from life in the artist’s studio with the intention of being employed later for a finished painting. While this picture cannot be connected with any surviving composition, all these head studies share the same unusual priming of the canvas - the application of a scumbled grey wash over a layer of red bole, which enabled the artist to achieve a remarkable tonal range with a limited palette and an economy of brushwork.

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