Anthony van Dyck

Portrait of Sir Thomas Chaloner

Portrait of Sir Thomas Chaloner
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Author: Anthony van Dyck
Portraiture, Painting, Oil on canvas, 104x81.5 cm
Origin: Flanders, Between 1638 and 1640

Sir Thomas Chaloner was an unusual personality in English history. He was an active opponent of royal power and a member of the so-called Long Parliament. In 1648 he became one of the judges who put his signature on the sentence condemning Charles I to death. After the Restoration of the Stuart House, Chaloner was sent into exile and ended his days in Holland.

The Portrait of Sir Thomas Chaloner is one of the last works by Van Dyck. It was painted at the end of the 1630s and without doubt is one of his best canvases. The artist depicts the aging face of Chaloner with its flaccid skin and blush on the cheeks. The energetic turn of the head, wide nostrils, slightly pursed lips and especially penetrating gaze of his light eyes superbly convey the active and temperamental character of this man. We get the impression that the portrait was done in one sitting. Van Dyck worked meticulously and used delicate brushstrokes to paint the face and hands of the subject and then by contrast, in the rough manner of a sketch and with great freedom, rendered Chaloner's wavy hair and the black silk of his elegant cloak, on which patches of light play. The nearly monochromatic palette serves to strengthen the impression produced by the face of the model.

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

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