Sir Anthony van Dyck (Antwerp 1599-1641 London)
Sir Anthony van Dyck (Antwerp 1599-1641 London)

Head Study of Saint Anthony of Padua

Sir Anthony van Dyck (Antwerp 1599-1641 London)
Head Study of Saint Anthony of Padua
oil on paper, laid down on panel
17 1/8 x 13 1/8 in. (43.4 x 33.3 cm.)
Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A. (1723-1792).
Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A. (1769-1830).
John Knowles; his sale (+), Christie's, London, 22 April 1842, lot 106 (8 gns. to the following)
Lord Colborne, and by descent to his daughter,
Henrietta Susannah, and by marriage to
Sir William Brampton Gurdon, M.P., Assington Hall, Suffolk.
with Thomas Agnew and Sons, London, from whom acquired by
C.G. Hoare, M.C., before 1968, and by descent.
E. Larsen, The Paintings of Anthony van Dyck, Freren, 1988, II, no. 657, illustrated.
S.J. Barnes et al., Van Dyck: A complete catalogue of the paintings, New Haven and London, 2004, p. 275, under no. III.38.
London, Agnew's, Old Masters, 1968, no. 25.
London, Agnew's, Sir Anthony Van Dyck, 7 November-7 December 1968, no. 29.
King's Lynn, Fermoy Art Gallery, The Collection made by C.G. Hoare, M.C., and Family, 25 July-8 August 1970, no. 9.
Yokohama, Sogo Museum of Art; Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art; and Osaka, Museum of Art Kintetsu, Anthony van Dyck, 1990, no. 15.

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Alexis Ashot
Alexis Ashot

Lot Essay

This lively head study was used by van Dyck for the head of Saint Anthony in his Vision of Saint Anthony of Padua, a major altarpiece thought to have been commissioned by the Infanta Isabella for her Palace Chapel, and now in the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan (fig. 1). The altarpiece is generally dated to 1629, shortly after van Dyck's return to Antwerp from Italy.

This picture is consistent with van Dyck's practice of making direct observational studies from live models for use in his large-scale history and religious paintings, and its original function was no doubt not lost on the two great English portraitists - Reynolds and Lawrence, who are its first documented owners.

Although Horst Vey did not accept the attribution of the head study, admitting that it only 'bears a resemblance to the head of Saint Anthony', most scholars today, including Dr. Christopher Brown, fully endorse its autograph status.

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