Artist. A portrait painter of the Baroque style, he is best remembered for his portraits of English King Charles I and his family and court. He was born Antoon van Dyck on March 22, 1599 in Antwerp, Belgium to affluent parents. His talent as an artist was demonstrated at an early age and when he was only ten years old, he studied painting with Hendrick van Balen. In 1615, already a highly accomplished artist, he became an independent painter and established his own studio. He was admitted to the Antwerp painters' Guild of Saint Luke in February 1618 as a free master and within a few years would become the chief assistant to the dominant master of Antwerp and all of Northern Europe, Peter Paul Rubens. In 1620 he traveled to London, England at the encouragement of George Villiers, the Marquess of Buckingham, and worked briefly for King James I of England. After a few months he returned to Antwerp and in late 1621 he moved to Genoa, Italy, remaining there for the next six years to study the Italian masters and launch his career as a successful artist. He returned to Antwerp in 1627 and remained there for the next five years, where he painted more affordable portraits. By 1630 he was described as the court painter of the Habsburg Governor of Flanders, the Archduchess Isabella. During this time he painted many religious works, including large altarpieces, and started his printmaking, or Iconography. In April 1632 he returned to London and became the English Court painter and was knighted by Charles I in July of that year. He became an immediate success in England and he maintained a large portrait studio in London, turning out a large number of portraits of the King and Queen Henrietta Maria, as well as their children. He painted many portraits of the English Court and also of himself and his mistress, Margaret Lemon. He developed a version of his artistic style which combined a relaxed elegance and ease with an understated authority in his subjects which would dominate English portrait painting to the end of the 18th century. He returned to Antwerp in early 1634 and spent most of the year there, returning to London in 1635. In 1638 he married Mary Ruthven, the daughter of Patrick Ruthven, formerly known as Lord Ruthven before his title was forfeited. In late 1640, as the English Civil War loomed, he returned to Flanders and France, returning to London after several months. In the summer of 1641 he left again for Paris, France but became seriously ill and returned to London where he died on December 9, 1641, at the age of 42. He was buried in Saint Paul's Cathedral and a monument was erected to his memory, but the grave and original monument perished with the cathedral in the Great Fire of London in 1666. For all the wealth that he had acquired during his lifetime, he left little property, choosing to spend it all on his lavish lifestyle.
Bio by: William Bjornstad