Young Anthony van Dyck revisited : a multidisciplinary approach to a portrait once attributed to Peter Paul Rubens
Van der Stighelen, Katlijne
Faculty of Sciences. Chemistry
Faculty of Social Sciences. Sociology
Art matters : international journal for technical art history
, p. 21-35
University of Antwerp
Part of the collection of the Rubens House in Antwerp is a portrait of young Anthony van Dyck, alternatively attributed to Peter Paul Rubens and his pupil Anthony van Dyck. In order to reconstruct the genesis of the portrait in a manner that improves upon past investigations, a number of high-end technological methods, such as X-radiography, X-ray computer tomography, mammographic tomosynthesis and macroscopic X-ray fluorescence, have been employed to render the overpainted layers visible again. The results of the interdisciplinary examinations of the portrait of the youthful Van Dyck are impressive. The combined results allow the later additions to be peeled away until the original composition can be reached. Several pentimenti are easily discernible and refer to a rather immature hand that makes the authorship of Peter Paul Rubens very unlikely. What emerges is a portrait of an ambitious young man with a luxuriant head of hair and a slightly turned-up collar. The hat and cape were added later. The facial features are more recognisable and the execution of the bold curls points irrefutably in the direction of Anthony van Dyck as the author of his own portrait.