Feb 29 Mon Frick: Van Dyke, The Anatomy of Portraiture (Mar 2-Jun 3)


Original now in the collection of the Archiepiscopal Castle and Gardens, Kromeríž, Czech Republic, painted in 1632 by Anthony van Dyck, to sit above the chimney in the drawing room in Somerset House, London. King Charles I had granted Somerset House to the Queen in 1626 as part of her jointure; and soon after an elaborate program of redecoration began. Daniel Mytens [Mitjens] was first commissioned to paint a double portrait for the cabinet room but his work was deemed unsatisfactory. Van Dyck was then engaged and his version must have pleased for its emphasis on the union of the King (his sovereignty made plain by the regalia behind him) and the Queen, symbolised by the exchange to a garland of laurel, presented by the Queen to her husband and partly in allusion to her father’s (Henry IV) martial fame. The olive branch held in her left hand may also refer to Charles’ peace-loving father James I. There is a miniature copy of the queen’s head in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam which is signed and dated 1632 and a copy in miniature by John Hoskins of the whole picture, both of which were painted for the King.
There are several more copies both of the entire composition and of single figures in various collections and the work was also engraved by Van Voerst in 1634.

FIRST MAJOR U.S EXHIBITION ON ANTHONY VAN DYCK IN MORE THAN TWENTY YEARS TAKES A COMPREHENSIVE LOOK AT THE ARTIST’S ACTIVITY AND PROCESS AS A PORTRATIST

VAN DYCK: THE ANATOMY OF PORTRAITURE

March 2 through June 5, 2016

Press Preview: Monday, February 29, 2016, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th Street, New York, NY 10021; RSVP: 212.547.0710

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641), one of the most celebrated and influential portraitists of all time, enjoyed an international career that took him from his native Flanders to Italy, France, and, ultimately, the court of Charles I in England. Van Dyck’s elegant manner and convincing evocation of a sitter’s inner life—whether real or imagined—made him the favorite portraitist of many of the most powerful and interesting figures of the seventeenth century. His sitters—poets, duchesses, painters, and generals—represent the social and artistic elite of his age, and his achievement in portraiture marked a turning point in the history of European painting. Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture, on view only at New York’s Frick Collection, looks comprehensively at the artist’s activity and process as a portraitist. It is also the first major exhibition devoted to his work to be held in the United States in more than twenty years. Through approximately one hundred works, the show explores the versatility and inventiveness of a portrait specialist, the stylistic development of a draftsman and painter, and the efficiency and genius of an artist in action. Organized chronologically around the different geographic chapters of Van Dyck’s career, the exhibition documents the artist’s development from an ambitious young apprentice into the most sought-after portrait painter in Europe. The show also includes a small selection of comparative works by Van Dyck’s contemporaries, including Rubens, Jordaens, and Lely, and a special installation of the Iconographie, Van Dyck’s celebrated series of portrait prints. Lenders to the exhibition include the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the British Museum and National Gallery in London, the Prado Museum in Madrid, and major private collectors such as the Duke of Devonshire and the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry.

This was Van Dyck’s first commission following his appointment as Court Painter to Charles I in 1632. It shows Charles and his Queen, Henrietta Maria of France, with their two eldest children: Prince Charles, later King Charles II, standing before his father and Princess Mary in her mother’s arms. In the background we glimpse a silhouetted view of Parliament House, Westminster Hall and possibly the Clock Tower. The painting was known as ‘The Greate Peece’ at the time and Charles hung it prominently in the Palace at Whitehall. What sets the picture apart from other paintings of the period is the apparently effortless way in which Van Dyck seemed able to combine the formal demands of official state portraiture with the informalities of family domesticity. Its size, the acres of shimmering silk and the grand classical column lend the image official gravity. Yet at the same time the King and Queen are seated, Charles has placed his crown on one side and two tiny dogs play between the royal couple. The composition is in essence, a royal conversation piece of a kind that was to be perfected by Johann Zoffany in the mid-18th century. The influences that are at work in such a painting reveal the true level of Van Dyck as an artist. Only Rubens and Velazquez treated royal sitters with such apparent nonchalance and insight, while the warm colours and dramatic sky bespeak a profound knowledge of Titian. It is interesting to note that the condition of the painting gave cause for concern as early as 1676 because Van Dyck had applied an unusual priming to the canvas.

Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture was organized for The Frick Collection by Stijn Alsteens, Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and Adam Eaker, Guest Curator, The Frick Collection. An illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition. Principal support is provided by an anonymous donation with additional leadership contributions from The Honorable and Mrs. W. L. Lyons Brown and an anonymous gift in memory of Melvin R. Seiden. Major support has also been provided by Melinda and Paul Sullivan, The Christian Humann Foundation, Aso O. Tavitian, The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, John and Constance Birkelund, Mrs. Daniel Cowin, Margot and Jerry Bogert, Gilbert and Ildiko Butler, Fiduciary Trust Company International, Mrs. Henry Clay Frick II, the General Representation of the Government of Flanders to the USA, Howard S. Marks and Nancy Marks, and Dr. and Mrs. James S. Reibel, with additional contributions from Mr. and Mrs. Charles M. Royce, The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Barbara G. Fleischman, Helen-Mae and Seymour Askin, George and Michael Eberstadt in memory of Vera and Walter Eberstadt, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Otto Naumann and Heidi D. Shafranek, the Robert Lehman Foundation, and an anonymous gift in memory of Charles Ryskamp.

For more information, contact us at mediarelations@frick.org or 212.547.0710

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Roberta Smith NYT Mar 10 2016 Thu Van Dyck at the Frick, Documenting Aristocracy
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