Art: A Meteor That Didn't Burn Out

The precocious Van Dyck chased the Tudor stiffness out of English painting

King Charles I of England had several court painters, not all equally lucky. Anthony van Dyck was the luckiest of all. But how could one envy, say, Richard Gibson? He was not only a miniaturist but a dwarf who at a court banquet had to skip from a pie and walk the length of the table bearing portraits of the King and Queen he had copied after Van Dyck on playing cards. It cannot have been fun to be this small, if distinct, talent, awaiting his cue in a dark pastry coffin. But to be Van Dyck himself? A different matter.


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