Vandyke, Or Van Dyck, Sir Anthony, a Flemish painter, born in Antwerp, March 22, 1599, died in London, Dec. 9, 1641. He was the most illustrious pupil of Rubens, and finally surpassed him in elegant portrait painting. After visiting England, he went in compliance with the advice of Rubens to Venice, and thence to Genoa and Rome. In both cities he received abundant commissions for portraits, and in the latter produced a fine head of Cardinal Bentivoglio, esteemed one of his masterpieces, besides many altarpieces. In 1627 he returned to Antwerp with a high reputation, and soon after executed for the church of the Augustinians there a celebrated picture representing St. Augustine in ecstasy, supported by angels. For the next five years he was busily employed by ecclesiastical establishments and private patrons in the Netherlands; and to this period may be ascribed numerous " Crucifixions" and "Pietas," impressed with that character of profound sorrow for which he has always been distinguished. Preeminent among them is his altarpiece of the crucifixion in the cathedral at Mechlin, which Reynolds pronounced " one of the finest pictures in the world." The close imitation of Rubens which at first characterized his works was now replaced by a peculiar style in which gracefulness of contour, softness of coloring, and an expression of a deeper and more touching emotion are the distinguishing traits.
But his greatest reputation was won by his portraits, which probably led to his being in 1632 invited by Charles I. to England. Soon after his arrival he was knighted, and in 1633 a life pension of £200 was granted to him. " He always," says a contemporary writer, " went magnificently dressed, had a numerous and gallant equipage, and kept so good a table in his apartment that few princes were more visited or better served." Excessive application (it is said that he frequently painted a portrait in a day) and a too lavish indulgence in dissipation, together with the anxieties caused by a search for the philosopher's stone, rapidly undermined his health; and with the desire of repairing his shattered fortunes, he proposed to the king to paint the walls of the banqueting room at Whitehall, but died before completing the bargain for the work. The number of works of all classes attributed to him is enormous, in view of his short life, and of the circumstances Under which the last ten years of it were passed. The best of his portraits are in England, prominent specimens being his several portraits of Charles I., those of the earls of Strafford and Pembroke, and many others in the collections at Windsor castle, Hampton court, Blenheim, Althorp, and other famous seats.
There are also many in the galleries of Paris, Berlin, and Vienna. A series of 100 small portraits in chiaroscuro of the most eminent of his contemporaries, from which etchings have been made, was executed by him in Antwerp, and is very celebrated. His long lost "Madonna with the Child" is said to have been discovered in 1875 in a German cloister by the Flemish painter George van Haanen. He was buried in St. Paul's cathedral, near the tomb of John of Gaunt. - See "Memoir of Sir A. Van Dyck," with a descriptive catalogue of his etchings, by W. H. Carpenter (4to, London, 1844).