“Auto portrait with a sunflower,” Antonis van Dyck – description

“Auto portrait with a sunflower,” Antonis van Dyck – description
“Auto portrait with a sunflower,” Antonis van Dyck - description - 1

  • Posted by Antonis van Dyck
  • Museum: Private collection
  • Year: 1632

Description of the picture :

Self-portrait with sunflower – Antonis van Dyck. Oil on canvas. 73 x 60 cm
   “Auto portrait with a sunflower” is a bright and festive work created on a special occasion: van Dyck received the title of knight. Therefore, with one hand, a happy master points to himself. On his shoulder and fingers is a treasured golden chain donated by the king. The red color of the artist’s clothes is in harmony with his red hair.

   With a finger of the other hand, Van Dyke points to a large sunflower. Man and flower seem to be looking at each other. And not surprisingly – at that time the sunflower was a new and mysterious plant. Thanks to his property, turning behind the sun, the flower was endowed with many mystical qualities, humanized.

   So “Auto portrait with a sunflower” is a triumph of a successful and excited person – hair and densely written petals are especially underlined by light and fill the picture with life. Karl I really wanted to see Van Dyke as his court painter. And Antonis, who arrived in London in 1632, was convinced of the generosity of the monarch: many portraits to order, as many as three rooms in the palace, providing 200 pounds, an estate on the Thames River and a knightly status. So van Dyck has the right to admire himself, which is captured on the portrait.

   At the same time, the chain is a symbol of devotion and a certain lack of freedom. From now on, the artist’s talent serves the king, not just inspiration. Therefore, “Auto portrait with a sunflower” suggests: the loyalty of the courtier is similar to how the sun turns behind the sun, that is, the king. At the same time, the master points out that, as a creator, he is involved in creating the perfect image of his ruler.

   The author of Van Dyke’s Look, John Peacock, also notes that the picture speaks of the sublime, divine nature of power. The look of the painter, who is directed from the bottom up on the “Auto Portrait with a Sunflower”, symbolizes both the achievement of a certain social status by the artist and the fact that Van Dyck knew a certain truth that was not accessible to a simple mortal.