Series/Portfolio: The Iconography
Artist: Anthony van Dyck (Flemish, Antwerp 1599–1641 London)
Date: ca. 1630
Medium: Etching; first state of seven
Dimensions: 9 1/2 x 6 1/8in. (24.1 x 15.6cm)
Credit Line: Bequest of Mary Stillman Harkness, 1950
Accession Number: 50.583.4
In this lively self-portrait of about 1640, Anthony van Dyck masterfully etched his rakishly turning head with the spontaneity and fluidity found in his drawings. The rest of his body is merely suggested through the sketchy but deftly placed lines indicating his neck and collar. Together with the other prints in his Iconography—a portrait series depicting approximately one hundred famous nobles, scholars, and artists—van Dyck's self-portrait enlivened this established genre with its fresh and original depiction of the sitter. The plates to the Iconography, of which seventeen were probably executed by van Dyck and the remainder by nine hired printmakers, underwent modification and reprinting many times over the centuries; fortunately, early states of those etched by van Dyck himself survive, such as this first state of the self-portrait. Evident in later editions of the Iconography, the engraver Jacques Neeffs completed the composition with a sculptural bust and pedestal—whether or not this was van Dyck's intention remains unknown.