The Antwerp-born artist, Anthony van Dyck, spent the period between November 1621 and autumn 1627 in Italy, travelling throughout much of the country and honing his skills as a portraitist, particularly during his stays in Genoa. Back in Antwerp, now an accomplished artist, he began to experiment with print-making as a means of disseminating his work and enhancing his reputation, resulting in the series of portraits which later became known as the Iconography.
Image 1: Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). Fig. 34 in book.
Before going to Italy Van Dyck had worked as an assistant to Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), who described him “as one of my best pupils”. Van Dyck had seen at first-hand how Rubens had developed a successful print-making business and how he had used this to spread his name, attract new patrons and earn more income. He was anxious to emulate the success of Rubens and was also keenly aware from his time in Italy and particularly from his time spent with the Duke of Mantua, of the elevated status and courtly lifestyle enjoyed by many artists in Italy. Even as early as 1621, some of Van Dyck’s colleagues had asked him to paint them either alone or with their wives in poses showing their new artistic self-confidence. The Iconography would be the most influential series of artists’ portraits and would establish the image of the artist as an aristocratic gentleman. Van Dyck presented the artists side by side with the elite of the day and it is hard to tell, from just looking at their portraits, who was a prince and who was an artist.
The idea of producing a series of portraits of well-known contemporaries was not a new one – for example, an earlier series had been produced in Antwerp in 1572. Van Dyck’s series would be different however. His prints would be based mainly on his own designs rather than using existing prints by other artists. The sitters in the Iconography fall into three groups, members of the nobility and military generals, statesmen and scholars, and artists and collectors. The third group, that of the artists, is by far the largest group. The Edward Worth Library’s edition of the Iconography was published in 1646 and consists of a title page which features a bust of Anthony van Dyck on a pedestal, and one hundred etched or engraved plates. Sixty-seven of the one hundred portraits, i.e. numbers thirty-four to one hundred in the catalogue, feature the broad category of artists. Of the sixty-seven portraits, nine, i.e. the ones inscribed ‘Ant. van Dyck fecit aqua forti’ were etched by Van Dyck himself. These were portraits of the following Antwerp artists: brothers Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625) and Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564-1638), Paul de Vos (1596-1678), Justus Sustermans (1597-1681), Adam van Noort (1561-1641), Frans Francken the Elder (1542-1616), Jan de Wael (1558-1633) and Willem de Vos (fl. 1593-1629). Van Dyck also etched the portrait of Antwerp engraver Lucas Vorsterman (1595-1675), one of the leading engravers involved in the project. The remaining portraits of the artists were based for the most part on earlier portraits by Van Dyck and were engraved by the engravers employed by Van Dyck, many of whom had trained under Rubens. Some of the portraits were based on preparatory studies made directly from life.
In the past, the artists’ professional attributes, e.g. their palettes, brushes and easels identified their profession, but in this series it is the gestures, the drapery and the facial expressions that are used to give them all an air of distinction. If the artists hold anything in their hands, it is usually a book or a pair of gentlemen’s gloves. While Van Dyck avoids including brushes and easels, he compensates for this by giving great prominence to the artists’ hands, to emphasise the importance of the hand as a creative force. The faces of the artists portrayed may not seem very familiar to the present-day viewer, and if one has no knowledge of Latin the inscriptions may be none too helpful either. So, who were these artists and why were they included? A great many of them were artists from Antwerp whom Van Dyck knew personally. The artistic community of Antwerp in the early seventeenth century was a very closely knit one where everybody knew everybody else and where most of the artists were related to each other by blood, by marriage or by strong ties of friendship; moreover, most of them were members of the Guild of St. Luke – the painters’ guild.
Image 2: Jan Wildens (1585-1653). Fig. 54 in book.
The artist Jan Wildens (1585-1653) is typical of the kind of artist portrayed in the Iconography (Image 2). He was a contemporary of Van Dyck’s and like him had spent a while in Italy (1613-1616). A landscape painter and draughtsman, he worked with Rubens and was related to him through marriage (Hélène Fourment, second wife of Rubens was a niece of Maria Stappaert, Wildens’s wife). His step-sister was married to Cornelis de Vos (1584-1651) and he worked closely with Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678) and Frans Snyders (1579-1657), all of whom are portrayed in the series. Like all the artists in the Iconography, most of whom cut quite a dash, he is finely dressed as a gentleman, wearing a buttoned silk vest, pendent ruff and fine cloak over his shoulder. There is no hint of his profession, but his right hand features prominently.
The backgrounds to the portraits are fairly neutral so as not to distract from the faces. Sometimes a classical column is included to add a touch of dignity to the composition. The term artist is used in the broadest sense to include painters, engravers, sculptors, architects and art collectors. Of the forty-six painters, thirty-two were friends or colleagues of Van Dyck’s from Antwerp. Some of these are household names, i.e. Anthony van Dyck himself and Peter Paul Rubens. Others, like Adriaen Brouwer (1605-1638), painter of low-life and tavern scenes, Jacob Jordaens, known for his history paintings, and the brothers Pieter and Jan Brueghel will be familiar to art lovers. Some, like Jan de Wael, a member of the older generation of artists, have largely been forgotten, probably because, as in his case, little of their work survives. Van Dyck lived with De Wael’s sons, Lucas and Cornelis when he was in Genoa where the brothers had a studio and this is possibly why De Wael was included.
Not all the artists came from Antwerp – some were from the Northern Netherlands. There were only a few foreign artists, i.e. the French artist Simon Vouet (1590-1649), whom Van Dyck met in Paris in 1627 on his way back to Antwerp from Italy, Orazio Gentileschi (1563-1639), the Italian artist Van Dyck would have known in London and the famous English architect Inigo Jones. Van Dyck’s choice of foreign artists seems a bit random but, as usual, probably reflects his personal relationships.
The non-Antwerp artists include Gaspar de Crayer (1584-1669) from Brussels, Theodoor Loon (1581-1667) from Louvain and Adam de Coster (1586-1643) from Mechelen. Utrecht artists are represented by Cornelis van Poelenburgh (c. 1594-1667) and Gerrit van Honthorst (1592-1656). The portrait of Jan Lievens (1607-1674) from Leiden, who would follow Van Dyck to London and be greatly influenced by him, is another good example of how Van Dyck gives prominence to the artist’s hand.
Image 3: Michiel Janszoon van Mierevelt (1566-1641). Fig. 73 in book.
Delft is represented by Daniel Mijtens (c. 1590-1647/48) and Michiel Janszoon van Mierevelt (1567-1641). Van Mierevelt (Image 3) is the only artist in the Iconography who is shown with his palette, brushes and maulstick, discreetly placed at the foot of the classical column. This may be explained by the fact that this portrait was the only one in the series engraved by Willem Jacobsz Delff (1580-1638), son-in-law of Van Mierevelt, who engraved it in his hometown of Delft.
Van Dyck would have known Palamaedes Palamedesz (1607-1638) from his time in London. Van Dyck visited Holland, probably in 1631 and while he was there made studies for the portraits of Cornelis Saftleven (c. 1607-1681) and Jan van Ravesteyn (c. 1572-1657), both of which studies have survived. He is also likely to have done preparatory drawings for the portraits of the engraver Willem Hondius, Michiel van Mierevelt, Gerrit van Honthorst, Palamedes Palamedesz and Cornelis van Poelenburgh while there.
Although Van Dyck makes no obvious reference to the artists’ profession, he sometimes gives us a clue as to the type of pictures they painted. Cornelis Saftleven was well-known for painting mythological themes, satires, images of Hell and animals with a hidden allegorical role. Maybe this is why Van Dyck shows him resting his arm on a strange animal or monster. Likewise, Josse de Momper (1564-1635), who is described as a painter of mountains, is portrayed against the backdrop of a rocky outcrop (Image 4). Josse de Momper’s portrait bears a strong resemblance to the portrait Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford (1593-1641), painted by Van Dyck in c. 1636, in the National Trust Collections at Petworth House and Park, West Sussex. Wentworth is also portrayed in front of a similar rocky outcrop.
Image 4: Josse de Momper (1564-1635). Fig. 53 in book.
While most of the artists were contemporaries of Van Dyck, their lives span a period of 176 years – from the birth of architect and sculptor Jacques du Broeucq in c. 1505 to the death of Cornelis Saftleven in 1681. So far, we have been concentrating on the painters. It is now time to take a look at the engravers, architects, sculptors and art collectors who account for the rest of the artistic community portrayed in the collection. Of the ten engravers who engraved the portraits for the Iconography, five, Jacob Neefs (1610-1880) who engraved the bust of Van Dyck for the title page, Nicolaes Lauwers (1600-1652), Schelte à Bolswert (1586-1659), Willem Jaocbsz Delff, and Cornelis Galle (1576-1650) are not portrayed themselves. The remaining five engravers, Lucas Vorsterman (1595-1675), Paulus Pontius (1603-1658), Pieter de Jode the Younger (1604-1674), Robert van Voerst (1597-1636) and Willem Hondius (c. 1597-c. 1658) are included.
Image 5: Jacques Callot (c. 1592-1635). Fig. 80 in book.
Five further engravers, who did not work on the Iconography are included: Jacques Callot (c. 1592-1635), Pieter de Jode the Elder (1570-1634), Theodoor Galle (1571-1633), Jean-Baptiste Barbé (1578-1649) and Karel van Mallery (1571-1635). Van Dyck was obviously happy to show the engravers with the tools of their trade as Pieter de Jode the Younger and Jacques Callot (Image 5) are both shown with their engraver’s tools. Many of these engravers had worked for Rubens and were enlisted by Van Dyck to cut the plates for the Iconography. Most of the plates were engraved by Lucas Vorsterman and Paulus Pontius. The three sculptors whose portraits form part of the series are Johannes van Mildert (1588-1638) who was born in Köningsberg in Prussia but moved back to Antwerp, Andreas Colyns de Nole (1598-1638) and Hubrecht van den Eynden (1594-1662) both from Antwerp. It is interesting to note that both Colyns de Nole (Image 6) and Van den Eynden are shown with an antique bust – a clear reference to their profession.
Image 6: Andreas Colyns de Nole (1598-1638). Fig. 93 in book.
This brings us to the two architects in the collection: Inigo Jones (1573-1652) and Jacques du Broeucq (c. 1505-1584). The portrait of Inigo Jones (Image 7) is probably the best-known and most recognisable one in the whole series. It has also been described as the most theatrical. Jones an English architect, designer and painter, famous for having designed the Banqueting Hall in Whitehall, worked for both James I and Charles I and was one of the first English architects to make a detailed study of the works of ancient Rome. Here we see him staring out to the distance, his portly frame spilling out from behind the parapet into the viewer’s space. He holds a large sheet of paper in his hand, a clear reference to his skills as a designer.
Image 7: Inigo Jones (1573-1652). Fig. 90 in book.
Jacques du Broeucq hailed from Mons which is why he is sometimes described as French and sometimes as Flemish, Mons having been owned by both France and the Netherlands at various stages. He was both an architect and a sculptor but few of the buildings he designed have survived. He holds a pair of compasses in his hand, again a clear reference to his profession. As Du Broeucq died in 1584, Van Dyck must have based his portrait on a pre-existing one. There is a preliminary black chalk with brown wash sketch for the engraving in the Thaw Collection at the Morgan Library & Museum, New York.
The art collectors and patrons form the last group portrayed in the Iconography. Anton Cornelissen (1565-1639), a close friend of Van Dyck’s, was descended from one of the oldest and wealthiest families in Antwerp; he studied divinity briefly before becoming an art collector. Cornelis van der Geest (1555-1638) was a wealthy Antwerp spice merchant and an important patron of the arts and a collector. Petrus Stevens (1590-1668), also from a wealthy Antwerp merchant family, inherited a large fortune from his father and became a generous patron of Flemish artists; he was appointed Grand Almoner of the City of Antwerp in 1632.
Jacques de Cachiopin (1578-1642) who also inherited Antwerp mercantile wealth was another friend of Van Dyck’s and a lover of art; he had a whole room of portraits by Van Dyck in his country home. Antonio de Tassis (1584-1651) belonged to yet another wealthy Antwerp family; he lost his left arm in battle fighting against the rebellious Dutch provinces; he did not remarry after the death of his wife in 1613 but went on to be ordained and became canon of the Cathedral of Antwerp; when he died in 1651 he left behind him one of the finest art collections in Flanders.
The series closes with a portrait of Nicolaas Rockox (1560-1640), one of sixteenth-century Antwerp’s most distinguished citizens; he was a burgomaster, magistrate, art collector, patron and numismatist. The unusual round format of his portrait with its architectural framework probably reflects his interest in ancient coins (Image 8).
Image 8: Nicolaas Rockox (1560-1640), Burgomaster of Antwerp. Fig. 100 in book.
Not altogether surprisingly, there are no female artists in the series. This was probably typical of attitudes towards women at that time. One artist surely worthy of inclusion was Orazio Gentileschi’s daughter, Artemisia (1593-1654), the accomplished painter who in all probability had met Van Dyck when both were in Genoa in 1621. Another deserving candidate would have been Sofonisba Anguissola (1532-1625) the Italian artist who gave Van Dyck some valuable advice when he visited her in Palermo in July 1624 and drew a portrait of her in his notebook. She was then over ninety years of age and blind; Van Dyck used to say he got more valuable information about painting from a blind woman than from many a seeing man.
It is hoped that this brief over-view of Van Dyck’s powerful character studies of his fellow artists will give viewers of the Iconography some understanding of who these artists were and why they were included. Hopefully it will also help them appreciate the contribution Van Dyck made towards establishing in the public mind the ideal image of the artist as a distinguished gentleman and a rather dashing one at that.
Stijn Alsteens and Adam Eaker, Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture (New Haven and London, 2016).
Linda Bauer and George Bauer, ‘Van Dyck’s Club’, Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, 71 (2) (2008), pp. 259-271.
Christopher Brown, Van Dyck (Oxford, 1982).
Christopher Brown, Van Dyck Drawings (London, 1991).
William Hookham Carpenter, Pictorial Notices: Consisting of a Memoir of Sir Anthony Van Dyck, with a Descriptive Catalogue of the Etchings Executed by Him (London, 1844).
Ingrid A. Cartwright, ‘Hoe Schilder Hoe Wilder: Dissolute Self-Portraits in Seventeenth-Century Dutch and Flemish Art’, Ph.D. diss. (University of Maryland, 2007).
Dan W. Clanton Jr., The Good, the Bold and the Beautiful: The Story of Susanna and its Renaissance Interpretations (New York and London, 2006).
Henri Simon Hymans and Paul George Konody, ‘Van Dyck, Sir Anthony (1599-1641)’, The Encyclopædia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information, 11th edn., Vol. XXVII (Cambridge, 1911), pp. 887-892.
Hilbert Lootsma, ‘Tracing a Pose: Govert Flinck and the Emergence of the van Dyckian Mode of Portraiture in Amsterdam’, Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art, 33 (4) (2007/2008), pp. 221-236.
John Phillip O’Neill (ed.), Liechtenstein: The Princely Collections (New York, 1985).
Elizabeth T. Pearson, ‘Engraved Portraits after Van Dyck’, Bulletin of the Pennsylvania Museum, 27 (144) (December, 1931), pp. 47-49.
Mara Peterson, ‘Anthony van Dyck’, Outside the Shadow of Rembrandt: Selected 17th Century Prints from the Famulener and Wilson Collections [Artistic Treasures from the Knox College Special Collections & Archives]. Available at: http://knox.omeka.net/exhibits/show/outside/vandyck.
The Fitzwilliam Museum, Anthony Van Dyck [online exhibition] (2009). Available at: http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/gallery/vandyck/
The Frick Collection, ‘Nicolaas Rockox | The Frick Collection’, Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture. Available at: http://www.frick.org/exhibitions/van_dyck/55.
The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, ‘Anthony van Dyck | Portrait of Jacques Dubroeucq | Drawings Online | The Morgan Library & Museum’. Available at: http://www.themorgan.org/drawings/item/248515.
The National Gallery, London, ‘Anthony van Dyck | Portrait of Cornelis van der Geest | NG52 | National Gallery, London’, Explore the paintings. Available at: https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/anthony-van-dyck-portrait-of-cornelis-van-der-geest.
National Trust Collections, ‘Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford (1593 – 1641) 486248 | National Trust Collections’. Available at: http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/486248.
Oxford University Press, Grove Art Online, Oxford Art Online. Available at: http://www.oxfordartonline.com.
John Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters, Vol. III (London, 1831).
Hans Vlieghe, Flemish Art and Architecture 1585-1700 (New Haven and London, 1998).
 Stijn Alsteens and Adam Eaker, Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture (New Haven and London, 2016), p. 88.
 Ibid., p. 103.
 In a letter to Sir Dudley Carleton, dated 28 April 1618, cited in The Fitzwilliam Museum, ‘Rubens and the young Van Dyck’, Anthony Van Dyck [online exhibition] (2009). Available at: http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/gallery/vandyck/etcher/rubens.html.
 The Fitzwilliam Museum, ‘Rubens and the young Van Dyck’, Anthony Van Dyck [online exhibition] (2009). Available at: http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/gallery/vandyck/etcher/rubens.html.
 Hans Vlieghe, Flemish Art and Architecture 1585-1700 (New Haven and London, 1998), p. 134.
 Ingrid A. Cartwright, ‘Hoe Schilder Hoe Wilder: Dissolute Self-Portraits in Seventeenth-Century Dutch and Flemish Art’, Ph.D. diss. (University of Maryland, 2007), p. 109.
 Christopher Brown, Van Dyck Drawings (London, 1991), p. 134.
 The Fitzwilliam Museum, ‘Printed portraits’, Anthony Van Dyck [online exhibition] (2009). Available at: http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/gallery/vandyck/etcher/printedportraits.html.
 Vlieghe, Flemish Art and Architecture 1585-1700, p. 134.
 The Fitzwilliam Museum, ‘The select few and the social context’, Anthony Van Dyck [online exhibition] (2009). Available at: http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/gallery/vandyck/etcher/socialcontext.html.
 Hans Devisscher, ‘Wildens, Jan’, Grove Art Online.
 Konrad Renger, ‘Brouwer, Adriaen’, Grove Art Online.
 Jetty E. van der Sterre, ‘Wael, de’, Grove Art Online.
 Barbara Brejon de Lavergnée, ‘Vouet, Simon’, Grove Art Online; Henri Simon Hymans and Paul George Konody, ‘Van Dyck, Sir Anthony (1599-1641)’, The Encyclopædia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information, 11th edn., Vol. XXVII (Cambridge, 1911), pp. 887-892; Ann Sutherland Harris and Judith W. Mann, ‘Gentileschi: (1) Orazio Gentileschi’, Grove Art Online.
 Alsteens and Eaker, Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture, p. 21.
 Hans Vlieghe, ‘Crayer, Gaspar de’, Grove Art Online; Hans Vlieghe, ‘Loon, Theodoor van’, Grove Art Online; Hans Vlieghe, Flemish Art and Architecture 1585-1700, p. 167.
 Nicolette C. Sluijter-Seijffert, ‘Poelenburch, Cornelis van’, Grove Art Online; Leonard J. Slatkes, ‘Honthorst, Gerrit van’, Grove Art Online.
 Eric Domela Nieuwenhuis, ‘Lievens, Jan’, Grove Art Online.
 Rudolf E. O. Ekkart, et al., ‘Mijtens’, Grove Art Online; Rudolf E. O. Ekkart, ‘Mierevelt, Michiel van’, Grove Art Online.
 Brown, Van Dyck Drawings, p. 136; Rudolf E. O. Ekkart, ‘Delff, Willem Jacobsz’, Grove Art Online.
 Peter C. Sutton, ‘Palamedesz, Anthonie’, Grove Art Online.
 Wolfgang Schulz, ‘Saftleven’, Grove Art Online; Rudolf E. O. Ekkart, ‘Ravesteyn, Jan van’, Grove Art Online.
 Hilbert Lootsma, ‘Tracing a Pose: Govert Flinck and the Emergence of the van Dyckian Mode of Portraiture in Amsterdam’, Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art, 33 (4) (2007/2008), pp. 229-230.
 John Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters, Vol. III (London, 1831), p. 220.
 Irene Haberland and Louise S. Milne, ‘Momper, de’, Grove Art Online.
 National Trust Collections, ‘Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford (1593 – 1641) 486248 | National Trust Collections’. Available at: http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/486248.
 Christian Coppens, ‘Neeffs, Jacob’, Grove Art Online; Christine van Mulders, ‘Lauwers’, Grove Art Online; Hella Robels, ‘Bolswert’, Grove Art Online; Christine van Mulders, ‘Galle’, Grove Art Online.
 Hella Robels, ‘Vorsterman’, Grove Art Online; Christine van Mulders, ‘Pontius, Paulus’, Grove Art Online; Christine van Mulders, ‘Jode, de’, Grove Art Online; Alison McNeil Kettering, ‘Borch, ter’, Grove Art Online; Nadine Orenstein and Christiaan Schuckman, ‘Hondius (ii)’, Grove Art Online.
 H. Diane Russell, ‘Callot, Jacques’, Grove Art Online; Christine van Mulders, ‘Jode, de’, Grove Art Online; Christine van Mulders, ‘Galle’, Grove Art Online; Carl van de Velde, ‘Wierix’, Grove Art Online.
 The Fitzwilliam Museum, ‘Printed portraits’, Anthony Van Dyck [online exhibition] (2009). Available at: http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/gallery/vandyck/etcher/printedportraits.html.
 Alsteens and Eaker, Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture, p. 156.
 Robert Tavernor and John Peacock, ‘Jones, Inigo’, Grove Art Online.
 Lydie Hadermann-Misguich. ‘Du Broeucq, Jacques’, Grove Art Online.
 Mara Peterson, ‘Anthony van Dyck’, Outside the Shadow of Rembrandt: Selected 17th Century Prints from the Famulener and Wilson Collections [Artistic Treasures from the Knox College Special Collections & Archives]. Available at: http://knox.omeka.net/exhibits/show/outside/vandyck; The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, ‘Anthony van Dyck | Portrait of Jacques Dubroeucq | Drawings Online | The Morgan Library & Museum’. Available at: http://www.themorgan.org/drawings/item/248515.
 William Hookham Carpenter, Pictorial Notices: Consisting of a Memoir of Sir Anthony Van Dyck, with a Descriptive Catalogue of the Etchings Executed by Him (London, 1844), pp. 89-90.
 The National Gallery, London, ‘Anthony van Dyck | Portrait of Cornelis van der Geest | NG52 | National Gallery, London’, Explore the paintings. Available at: https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/anthony-van-dyck-portrait-of-cornelis-van-der-geest.
 Carpenter, Pictorial Notices, p. 109.
 Michael Jaffé, ‘Dyck, Anthony van’, Grove Art Online.
 John Phillip O’Neill (ed.), Liechtenstein: The Princely Collections (New York, 1985), pp. 314-315.
 Veronique van Passel, ‘Rockox, Nicolaas’, Grove Art Online.
 Dan W. Clanton Jr., The Good, the Bold and the Beautiful: The Story of Susanna and its Renaissance Interpretations (New York and London, 2006), p. 160.
 Marco Tanzi, ‘Anguissola’, Grove Art Online.
 Hymans and Konody, ‘Van Dyck, Sir Anthony (1599-1641)’, p. 889.
Text: Mary Martin, M. Phil. in Art History, ART+IRELAND, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Trinity College, Dublin.