Anthony van Dyck

Portrait of Elizabeth and Philadelphia Wharton

Portrait of Elizabeth and Philadelphia Wharton
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Anthony van Dyck
Portraiture, Painting, Oil on canvas, 162x130 cm
Origin: Flanders, 1640

Few artists have truly successfully depicted children, but Anthony van Dyck in this portrait of the daughters of Philip, 4th Lord Wharton, produced a genuinely appealing image. It was painted during the late, English period of the artist's career, and is executed well within the traditions of Western European official portraiture. The girls are shown posing statically against a very roughly indicated, generalised background, with just a hint of a decorative landscape. Dressed and coiffed a la mode, they look like true grown up ladies, the eldest holding herself importantly and with a sense of her own importance, just like a lady at court. The youngest gently holds her sister by the shoulder, frozen in the pose in which she has been stood by the artist. The official majesty of the formal portrait is softened by the little dog, surprised by his mistresses' immobility, who scratches wonderingly at the eldest girl's dress with one paw. With its elegant colour scheme, dominated by cold pearly-grey and silver-blue, and the virtuoso skill in conveying the texture of fabrics and jewellery, van Dyck's painting yet manages to be a very gentle and informal image of two charming girls.

Style: Baroque
Source of entry: Collection of Sir Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall, 1779
Exibition: Flemish Art: 17th century

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