Van Dyck self-portrait breaks records

Sir Anthony van Dyck’s last self-portrait sold for a record-breaking £8,329,250 ($13,521,704) at a Sotheby’s auction today. Nine bidders drove the price for this rare masterpiece far above the £2-3 million estimate, and far above the previous record of £3.06m for his A Rearing Stallion sold by Christie’s in July of last year.

The winning bid was made by Alfred Bader in partnership with Philip Mould.

Art dealer Philip Mould said buying the portrait was an “opportunity we could not miss”.

Mr Mould added: “This is the most important 17th-Century British portrait to come on the market in the last two decades. It was an opportunity we could not miss.”

Considering that the last time it was on the market was in 1712, I can see his point. It first belonged to artist Sir Peter Lely. In 1712, it was bought by Sir Francis Child, a London banker whose descendant married the 5th Earl of Jersey. The portrait has remained in the Earl of Jersey family ever since.

Van Dyck painted the portrait in London in 1640, just a few months before he died. It’s one of only 3 self-portraits he made in England and it’s a fabulous one. He’s wearing a styling black and white slashed silk doublet and looking over his slashed sleeves at the viewer.

Early van Dyck self-portrait, 1613-14Born in 1599, Van Dyck was something of a child prodigy. His artistic talent was evident at a very early age and he was already studying under a professional artist when he was a mere 10 years old. He started his own studio with fellow child prodigy Jan Brueghel the Younger when he was 15.

He was just 42 when he died.