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Christian Bruce, Countess of Devonshire
Anthony van Dyck (Flemish, 1599 - 1641)
circa 1635. Oil on canvas, 83 1/4 x 51 1/2". 1967.018
Anthony van Dyck (Antonis van Dijck) was one of the outstanding portrait painters of his time. He began his extraordinary career as an assistant to Peter Paul Rubens, the great Flemish master and court painter. In 1632, van Dyck was appointed court painter to King Charles I of England. Van Dyck was knighted, and he resided and painted at the English court for most of his life. Here, the artist has painted Christian Bruce, a widow, who looks directly at the viewer with an air of confident self-possession. A full-length portrait such as this one was an intentional display of status and wealth–note the swag of rich fabric behind the figure.