The young Van Dyck presents himself as a courtly gentleman, with no reference to his profession other than the painting itself. The portrait probably dates from the artist’s stay in London during the winter of 1620–21, and certainly before he left his native Antwerp for Italy in autumn 1621. That Van Dyck’s father dealt in fine fabrics partly explains his predilection for rich attire (which was remarked by Bellori, an early biographer) and perhaps his elegant descriptions of drapery.
In his biography of Van Dyck, Giovan Pietro Bellori described the young artist in Rome in 1622: "he was still young, his beard barely sprouting, yet his youth was accompanied by grave modesty of character and nobility of mien, albeit he was small in stature. His manners were those of a lord rather than a commoner, and he appeared resplendent in rich attire of suits and court dress" ("era egli ancor giovine, spuntando di poco la barba, ma la giovinezza sua veniva accompagnata da grave modestia di animo e da nobiltà di aspetto, ancorché picciolo di persona. Erano le sue maniere signorili piú tosto che di uomo privato, e risplendeva in ricco portamento di abiti e divise"). The Self-Portrait in the Metropolitan Museum is one of the earliest by the artist, and depicts him as a stylish gentleman rather than as a painter. The canvas is first described by John Evelyn on the occasion of a dinner, on 16 November 1677, which he attended with his son, at the house of the Lord Chamberlain, Henry Bennet, 1st Earl of Arlington. Evelyn recalled "two Vandyke’s, of which one was his own picture at length, when young, in a leaning posture; the other an eunouch, singing. Rare pieces indeed!" Through Arlington’s daughter, Isabella, the painting entered the collection of the dukes of Grafton, and there it was recorded by Horace Walpole (1828): "at the Duke of Grafton’s is a fine half length of Vandyck by himself, when young, holding up his arm, the hand declined." It remained in the Grafton collection until sold at auction in 1923, and a year later it was acquired by Jules Bache in New York.
The painting is closely related to two other Self-Portraits in the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, and in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich. The dating of the three paintings and their relative chronology has been the source of much speculation. Smith (1831) originally proposed that the New York portrait dated from "around the time he resided at Genoa," but Lionel Cust (1900) already noticed that it was more likely painted before 1621. The Self-Portrait is particularly close to Van Dyck’s work from his first Antwerp period. However, the provenance suggests, as rightly proposed by Walter Liedtke (1984), that the painting should date from the artist’s first English sojourn, around 1620–21. The flesh tones and the hands in the Self-Portrait are particularly close in treatment to the ones in the Continence of Scipio (Christ Church Picture Gallery, Oxford) painted around 1620–21 in London, probably for the duke of Buckingham.
The Self-Portrait was painted over a re-used canvas, and the portrait of a man with a moustache is visible in x-ray photographs of the work, to the left of the artist’s head. The twenty-one-year-old painter was already clearly influenced by Venetian portraiture— especially by Titian—in his refined technique, and in creating a supremely sophisticated image. The Munich Self-Portrait was originally closer in composition to the New York one, as x-rays revealed the same posture for the hand in its earlier version. It seems likely that both Munich and St. Petersburg paintings slightly post-date the New York one and were probably painted in Italy.
[Xavier F. Salomon 2012]
Henry Bennet, 1st Earl of Arlington, Euston Hall, near Thetford, Norfolk (by 1677–d. 1685); his daughter, Isabella, Duchess of Grafton (until d. 1722/23); the Dukes of Grafton, Euston Hall (1722/23–1918); Alfred William Maitland Fitzroy, 8th Duke of Grafton (1918–23; sale, Christie's, London, July 13, 1923, no. 143, for £5,985 to Hopkins); [Duveen, London and New York, until 1924; sold for $130,000 to Bache]; Jules S. Bache, New York (1924–d. 1944; his estate, 1944–49; cats., 1929, unnumbered; 1937, no. 26; 1943, no. 25)
London. Grosvenor Gallery. "Exhibition of the Works of Sir Anthony van Dyck," Summer 1887, no. 93 (lent by the Duke of Grafton).
Antwerp. Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten. "Van Dijck Tentoonstelling," August 12–October 15, 1899, no. 54 (lent by the Duke of Grafton, London).
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Exhibition of Works by Van Dyck," January 1–March 10, 1900, no. 87 (lent by the Duke of Grafton).
Detroit Institute of Arts. "Loan Exhibition of Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century," January 9–25, 1925, no. 30 (lent by Jules S. Bache).
Detroit Institute of Arts. "Eighth Loan Exhibition of Old Masters, Paintings by Anthony van Dyck," April 3–20, 1929, no. 12 (lent by Jules S. Bache).
New York. World's Fair. "Masterpieces of Art: European Paintings and Sculpture from 1300–1800," May–October 1939, no. 98 (lent by the Jules S. Bache Collection).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Bache Collection," June 16–September 30, 1943, no. 25.
Hempstead, N. Y. Hofstra College. "Metropolitan Museum Masterpieces," June 26–September 1, 1952, no. 4.
Akron, Ohio. Akron Art Institute. "Picture of the Month," November 25–December 28, 1952, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Portrait of the Artist," January 18–March 7, 1972, no. 7.
Ottawa. National Gallery of Canada. "The Young Van Dyck," September 19–November 9, 1980, no. 76.
Norwich. Castle Museum. "Dutch and Flemish Painting in Norfolk," September 10–November 20, 1988, no. 13.
Athens. National Gallery Alexandros Soutzos Museum. "From El Greco to Cézanne: Masterpieces of European Painting from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," December 13, 1992–April 11, 1993, no. 8.
Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne," June 23–November 12, 2006, no. 16.
Barcelona. Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. "Grandes maestros de la pintura europea de The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nueva York: De El Greco a Cézanne," December 1, 2006–March 4, 2007, no. 12.
Stockholm. Nationalmuseum. "Rubens & Van Dyck," February 25–May 23, 2010, no. 30.
London. Dulwich Picture Gallery. "Van Dyck in Sicily: Painting and the Plague, 1624–25," February 15–May 27, 2012, no. 1.
New York. Frick Collection. "Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture," March 2–June 5, 2016, no. 12.
John Evelyn. Journal entry. November 16, 1677 [published in W. Bray, ed., "Diary and Correspondence of John Evelyn, F. R. S.," London, 1850, vol. 2, p. 109], mentions seeing it at the home of Henry Bennet, who, at the time was Lord Chamberlain.
Horace Walpole. Anecdotes of Painting in England. London, 1828, vol. 2, p. 223, as in the Duke of Grafton's collection.
John Smith. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters. Vol. 3, London, 1831, pp. 210–11, no. 742, as in the Duke of Grafton's collection.
Jean Durand. L'Exposition Van Dyck à Anvers. Paris, 1899, p. 35, as Van Dyck at the age of sixteen or seventeen.
Lionel Cust. Anthony van Dyck, An Historical Study of His Life and Works. London, 1900, pp. 19, 203, 211, 221, 235, ill. opp. p. 20, as a repetition of the self-portrait in St. Petersburg.
[Max J.] Friedländer. "Die V. Dyck-Ausstellung in London." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 23 (1900), p. 169.
Emil Schaeffer. Van Dyck, des Meisters Gemälde. 1st ed. Stuttgart, 1909, p. 502, ill. p. 171 [2nd ed. by Gustav Glück, 1931, p. 532, ill. p. 122], considers the Hermitage self-portrait and others to be repetitions of this picture.
Gustav Glück. "Antonius Van Dyck's Portrait of Cardinal Domenico Rivarola." Bulletin of the Bachstitz Gallery 7/8 (September 1924), unpaginated [reprinted in "Rubens, Van Dyck und ihr Kreis," Vienna, 1933, p. 310].
Wilhelm R. Valentiner, ed. "An Unknown Self-portrait by Rubens." Art in America. By Frank E. Washburn Freund. 16 (December 1927), p. 3, fig. 4.
Édouard Brandus. "La collection des tableaux anciens de M. Jules S. Bache, à New-York." La Renaissance 11 (May 1928), p. 194, ill. p. 187, as Van Dyck at the age of twenty-five.
Walter Heil. "The Jules Bache Collection." Art News 27 (April 27, 1929), p. 4, ill. p. 15.
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Collection of Jules S. Bache. New York, 1929, unpaginated, ill.
Wilhelm R. Valentiner. A Loan Exhibition of Fifty Paintings by Van Dyck. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1929, unpaginated, no. 12, ill.
Walter Heil. "Die Van Dyck-Ausstellung in Detroit." Pantheon 4 (July–December 1929), p. 302.
Royal Cortissoz. "The Jules S. Bache Collection." American Magazine of Art 21 (May 1930), p. 258, ill. p. 253.
Gustav Glück. Van Dyck, des Meisters Gemälde. 2nd ed. [1st ed. 1909]. Stuttgart, 1931, p. 532, ill. p. 122 [1st ed. by Emil Schaeffer, 1909, p. 502, ill. p. 171], states that it was engraved by Pontius and that it is earlier than the self-portraits in St. Petersburg and Munich; suggests that a single sketch served for the three pictures.
Ludwig Burchard, ed. Rubens, Van Dyck und ihr Kreis. By Gustav Glück. Vienna, 1933, p. 412.
Gustav Glück. "Self-portraits by Van Dyck and Jordaens." Burlington Magazine 65 (November 1934), pp. 195–96, claims that it "may on stylistic grounds be dated with certainty 1621".
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. under revision. New York, 1937, unpaginated, no. 26, ill.
Duveen Pictures in Public Collections of America. New York, 1941, unpaginated, no. 183, ill., proposes that it was painted about 1620 in Antwerp.
Harry B. Wehle. "The Bache Collection on Loan." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 1 (June 1943), p. 288.
Walter Heil. "The Bache Paintings at the Metropolitan." Art News 42 (June–July 1943), pp. 21, 23–24, ill., dates it about 1620.
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. rev. ed. New York, 1943, unpaginated, no. 25, ill.
Leo van Puyvelde. "Van Dyck's Style during his English Period (II)." Phoebus 1, nos. 3/4 (1946), p. 150.
Leo van Puyvelde. Van Dyck. Brussels, 1950, pp. 96, 125, 130, 172, dates it about 1620.
W. R. Valentiner. "Van Dyck's Character." Art Quarterly 13 (Spring 1950), pp. 87–88, fig. 1, as earlier than the Munich self-portrait and broader in execution.
Lillian Ross. "Profiles: How do you like it now, gentlemen?" New Yorker (May 13, 1950), p. 58 [reprinted as "Portrait of Hemingway," New York, 1961, p. 57].
Herbert Gerhold. "A Self-portrait by Van Dyck." Country Life 112 (November 28, 1952), p. 1744.
100 Opere di Van Dyck. Exh. cat., Palazzo dell'Accademia. Genoa, 1955, p. 17, under no. 1, as a "modified replica" of the self-portrait in Munich.
H[orst]. Gerson and E. H. ter Kuile. Art and Architecture in Belgium 1600 to 1800. Baltimore, , p. 121.
Michael Jaffé inEncyclopedia of World Art. Vol. 4, New York, 1961, col. 534, dates it about 1621.
David Piper. Catalogue of Seventeenth-Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, 1625–1714. Cambridge, 1963, pp. 358–59, as "now in the Bache collection".
Alain Roy inLe Siècle de Rubens dans les collections publiques françaises. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. Paris, 1977, p. 84, under no. 45.
Erik Larsen. L'opera completa di Van Dyck. Milan, 1980, vol. 1, pp. 84, 103, no. 254, ill. (overall and detail).
Alan McNairn. The Young Van Dyck. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Canada. Ottawa, 1980, pp. 8, 26, 165–67, no. 76 and under no. 77, ill. p. 259 and cover (color detail).
J. Douglas Stewart. "Ottawa: The Young Van Dyck at the National Gallery of Canada." Burlington Magazine 123 (February 1981), p. 123.
Christopher Brown. Van Dyck. Ithaca, N.Y., 1982, pp. 52–53, pl. 43.
Walter A. Liedtke. Flemish Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, vol. 1, pp. 67–71, fig. 14 (radiograph); vol. 2, pl. 29 and colorpl. VII, dates it to the autumn of 1621, observing that the portrait visible through radiography appears to be by Van Dyck and recalls the portraits that he executed in Antwerp about 1619.
Walter A. Liedtke. "Anthony van Dyck." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 42 (Winter 1984/85), pp. 4, 15, 18, 20–21, figs. 1, 15 (color, overall and detail).
Hans-Joachim Raupp. Untersuchungen zu Künstlerbildnis und Künstlerdarstellung in den Niederlanden im 17. Jahrhundert. Hildesheim, 1984, p. 231, as the model for a portrait of a man in the collection of the Duke of Portland.
Walter A. Liedtke. "Flemish Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum—II: Van Dyck, Jordaens, Brouwer, and Others." Tableau 6 (February 15, 1984), pp. 29–31, fig. 2 (color).
Colin Simpson. Artful Partners: Bernard Berenson and Joseph Duveen. New York, 1986, pp. 204, 207, 298 [British ed., "The Partnership: The Secret Association of Bernard Berenson and Joseph Duveen," London, 1987].
Erik Larsen. The Paintings of Anthony van Dyck. Freren, Germany, 1988, vol. 1, pp. 197, 394 n. 199, fig. 135; vol. 2, pp. 28–29, no. 41 and under nos. 40, 42, 43, 44.
Andrew W. Moore. Dutch and Flemish Painting in Norfolk. Exh. cat., Castle Museum, Norwich. London, 1988, pp. 9, 89, no. 13, ill. p. 9 and colorpl. 10, dates it about 1621.
Susan J. Barnes inAnthony van Dyck. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1990, pp. 167–68, fig. 1.
Introduction by Walter A. Liedtke inFlemish Paintings in America: A Survey of Early Netherlandish and Flemish Paintings in the Public Collections of North America. Antwerp, 1992, pp. 12, 26, 241–43, no. 76, ill. (color).
Deborah Krohn et al. inFrom El Greco to Cézanne: Masterpieces of European Painting from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., National Gallery Alexandros Soutzos Museum. Athens, 1992, pp. 36–37, 306, no. 8, ill. (color) [catalogue section unpaginated].
Julius S. Held. "Van Dyck's Relationship to Rubens." Van Dyck 350. Ed. Susan J. Barnes and Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. Washington, 1994, pp. 64–65, fig. 3.
Alfred Moir. Anthony van Dyck. New York, 1994, pp. 18–19, 22, 44, fig. 26.
Katlijne van der Stighelen in Christopher Brown and Hans Vlieghe. Van Dyck 1599–1641. Exh. cat., Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp. London, 1999, pp. 43, 47 nn. 67, 68, p. 164, fig. 26 (color).
Jonathan Brown inVelázquez, Rubens y Van Dyck: Pintores cortesanos del siglo XVII. Ed. Jonathan Brown. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, , p. 47.
Robin Blake. Anthony van Dyck: A Life, 1599–1641. London, 1999, pp. 136–41, 281, 379 n. 6, pl. 15.
Gudrun Raatschen. Van Dyck in der Alten Pinakothek. [Munich], 1999, pp. 10–11.
Katlijne van der Stighelen. "'Van Dyck's Character' revisited: Valentiner versus de zeventiende-eeuwse historiografische traditie." Van Dyck 1599–1999: Conjectures and Refutations. Ed. Hans Vlieghe. Turnhout, Belgium, 2001, p. 229, fig. 2.
Emilie E. S. Gordenker. Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641) and the Representation of Dress in Seventeenth-century Portraiture. Turnhout, Belgium, 2001, pp. 60–61, 117–18 nn. 117, 118, fig. 100.
Natalya Gritsay inRubens and his Age: Treasures from the Hermitage Museum, Russia. Exh. cat., Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. London, 2001, p. 66, under no. 23.
Konrad Renger with Claudia Denk. Flämische Malerei des Barock in der Alten Pinakothek. Munich, 2002, pp. 148, 150.
Walter Liedtke inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 2006, pp. 19–20, 100–104, no. 16, ill. (color) [Catalan ed., Barcelona, 2006, pp. 18, 56–59, no. 12, ill. (color, overall and detail)].
Christopher White. The Later Flemish Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen. London, 2007, p. 198, under no. 60.
Alexis Merle du Bourg inAntoon van Dyck, Portraits. Exh. cat., Musée Jacquemart-André. Brussels, 2008, p. 64.
Karen Hearn inVan Dyck & Britain. Ed. Karen Hearn. Exh. cat., Tate Britain. London, 2009, pp. 47, 133, 242, no. 5, ill. (color), dates it about 1620.
Kevin Sharpe inVan Dyck & Britain. Ed. Karen Hearn. Exh. cat., Tate Britain. London, 2009, p. 23.
Görel Cavalli-Björkman inRubens & Van Dyck. Exh. cat., Nationalmuseum. Stockholm, , p. 156, no. 30, ill. pp. 21, 157, and inside back cover (color, overall and details).
Master Paintings: Evening Sale. Sotheby's, New York. January 28, 2016, p. 108, under no. 32.
Stijn Alsteens in Stijn Alsteens and Adam Eaker. Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture. Exh. cat., Frick Collection. New York, 2016, pp. 58, 79–81, no. 12, ill. (color).
Tableaux, sculptures, et dessins anciens et du XIXe siècle. Sotheby's, Paris. June 15, 2017, p. 56, under no. 45.