Picture of the Day

Red scarf Van Dyck
Portrait of a Man in Armour with Red Scarf, c.1625-1627, by Anthony Van Dyck,
©Gemäldegalerie, Dresden

 

Another example of Van Dyck at his best, in my opinion. I prefer him when he steps away from the familiar high-society lords and  ladies and gives us something a little different. In this case the sitter is looking away from the viewer at something in the distance behind us,  and the background gives no clues at all as to who he may be. A gentleman soldier, maybe?  Perhaps someone with a knowledge of 17th century European armour might be able to offer some insight. Comments welcome!

 

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2 Comments

  1. Adam Busiakiewicz

     /  March 27, 2016

    The armour in this portrait is rather interesting. The fluted steel plates indicate a style of armour that was fashionable in early sixteenth century Germany and Italy. These deep regular flutes are believed to echo the contemporary civilian fashions for elaborately sashed clothing, think of those paintings by Cranach etc. So, why paint a portrait of a man in armour which is 80 years out of date? I think this type of portrait is trying to evoke the look of a traditional armoured warrior in an age when warfare and technology was changing dramatically. Or, was Van Dyck being clever in adapting his portraiture to hang sympathetically alongside earlier sixteenth century family portraits? He constantly looked at paintings by Titian and others when it came to inspiration for armoured portraits…

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  2. I was just going to say what Adam Busiakiewicz did, but he said it better. 🙂

    I will add that the sitter has remarkably long hair for the 1620s. Is the picture firmly dated? He’s ahead of the fashion curve if it is. He looks like someone from the very end of Van Dyck’s life, or even the 1650s, when men’s hair was worn longer, but before wigs became the norm. First time I saw this portrait, I was surprised it was a Van Dyck, because of that.

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