Anthony van Dyck
Sir Anthony van Dyck was a Flemish Baroque artist who became the leading court painter in England after success in the Southern Netherlands and Italy. He was successful as an independent painter in his late teens, and became a master in the Antwerp guild in 1618. By this time he was working in the studio of the leading northern painter of the day, Peter Paul Rubens, who became a major influence on his work. In 1632 he went to London to be the main court painter, at the request of Charles I of England. He is best known for his portraits of the aristocracy, most notably Charles I, and his family and associates. Van Dyck became the dominant influence on English portrait-painting for the next 150 years. He also painted mythological and biblical subjects, including altarpieces, displayed outstanding facility as a draughtsman, and was an important innovator in watercolour and etching. His superb brushwork, apparently rather quickly painted, can usually be distinguished from the large areas painted by his many assistants. His portrait style changed considerably between the different countries he worked in, culminating in the relaxed elegance of his last English period. His influence extends into the modern period. The Van Dyke beard is named after him. During his lifetime, Charles I granted him a knighthood, and he was buried in St Paul's Cathedral, an indication of his standing at the time of his death.