- Reference number
- Dyck, Anton van (Flemish),
- count Enrique de Bergh
- 114 cm x 100 cm
- On display
- Colección Real (colección Felipe V, Quinta del duque del Arco (Madrid), novena pieza que es salón, 1745, ¿nº 275?; Quinta del duque del Arco, pieza octava de salón, 1794, nº 203).
Though of Dutch origin —he was Maurice of Nassau's nephew— Enrique de Berg remained faithful to the Catholic cause of the Spanish monarchy for quite some time. He was born in 1573 and died in 1638. He led the Spanish cavalry in Flanders brilliantly and valiantly during the first years of the Thirty Years' War, but in 1632 he entered the service of the Dutch rebels.
The image painted by Van Dyck bears the characteristics of portraits he painted after his trip to Italy, when he achieved great mastery of that genre, becoming the leading Flemish portrait painter.
During those years, he portrayed many of the protagonists of the military struggle ravaging Northern and Central Europe, and this activity culminated in the publication of a repertoire of engravings based on his portraits and known as The Iconography of Van Dyck.
In the case of Enrique de Bergh, the artist painted a military portrait, emphasizing the Count's bravery by incorporating elements in keeping with his condition, such as armor, a commander's staff, and a general's sash elegantly draped across his extended arm, which enlivens the composition and gives him an appearance of great aristocratic dignity, as his station merits.
The placement of the model beside a boulder, in front of a clearing in the landscape, foreshadows the sort of portrait would make in the following years, during his stay in England.
This painting was acquired by Felipe IV at the auction of the property of King Charles I of England in the mid seventeenth century. In the following century, when the model's identity was unknown, it was long considered a portrait of the Duke of Alba.