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Dyck, Anthony van
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Dyck, Anthony van

Antwerp (Belgium), 1599 - London, 1641

Dyck, Anthony van See author's file


Ca. 1629. Oil on canvas.
Room 016B

The scene depicts one of the most dramatic moments of the Passion and Death of Christ, when the Virgin, accompanied by Mary Magdalene who kisses the Redeemer´s hand, and by Saint John who contemplates the scene, assumes her greatest significance in her role as mother during the moments immediately after the loss of her Son in the tragedy of Mount Calvary. Van Dyck succeeds in expressing this aspect masterfully: the light fully bathes her face and the features of the Saviour, whose corpse lies on a white linen sheet spread on a stone. The painter follows a usual pattern for this popular theme, though instead of portraying Jesus´ body on his mother´s lap, as the Middle Age masters did up until the height of the Renaissance -we might recall Michelangelo´s very famous Pietà (Rome, St Peter´s Basilica, Vatican-) he prefers an intermediate position rather than showing the mother reminiscing about the Son´s childhood by placing him on her knees. Seeking a more dramatic Baroque effect, little short of the idea of ecstasy, he links both images and depicts the Virgin raising her tear-bathed eyes heavenward, with Christ´s head on her breast and one arm on her lap. This attitude appears to be one of reproach towards the Eternal Father, who did not allow the Sacrifice of Isaac centuries earlier, choosing his own Son for the supreme martyrdom. The authorship of the painting has been controversial ever since it began to be analysed. After weighing up opinions that it is not an original but a mere copy of the work painted by the master for the Begijnhof church in his city of birth (Antwerp, Royal Museum of Fine Arts), in 1999 Diaz Padrón rectified his previous opinion (1975) and classified it among Van Dyck´s originals, judging it to be a smaller repetition of the latter. As to the ideas that gave rise to the composition and what could have conditioned the attitudes of the human figures, it is necessary to turn to classical sculpture, from which Rubens was so inclined to borrow concepts and forms when establishing gestures and postures. Van Dyck was able both to evoke everything he had observed and studied on his travels around Italy and to make use of the repertories of engravings or small bronze casts of known pieces from antiquity. Van Dyck learned Rubens´ lesson well on the use of sculpture, making formal borrowings from this art, which he imbued with life and warmth, transforming stone and marble into flesh and effluvia of sweat and blood. Jesus´ skin reflects tonalities that are revealing testimonies to the metamorphosis undergone by a body without the breath of life and achieve a naturalistic result that the viewer finds lifelike. The compositional guidelines are part of an intelligent scheme designed to balance the volumes and achieve optimal rhythmic coherence. Mary Magdalene is incorporated into the action as part of a pyramidal pattern with the Virgin in the upper corner, where the dark background of the rock helps to highlight her presence next to Jesus´ body, which stands out illuminated with the Olympian magnificence of a classical statue. Saint John, in contrast, in the shadow, helps shape a diagonal that begins in the carefully rendered symbols of the Saviour´s torment in the bottom left-hand corner of the canvas and ends upper right. The draughtsmanship, the range of colours, the use of light and the dramatic tension in general, which is easily seen, are superb and, now visible in their full splendor following the recent restoration of the work, confirm the opinions of those who attribute it to Van Dyck, allaying earlier misgivings that led it to be ascribed it to the master´s workshop. Paul de Pont (Paulus Pontius) engraved it in reverse (New Holl, VII, 538) emphasising its differences with the painting in Antwerp, particularly the details of the faces (From Titian to Goya. Great Masters of the Museo del Prado, National Art Museum of China-Shanghai Museum, 2007, pp. 369-370).


Technical data

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Inventory number
Dyck, Anthony van
Ca. 1629
Height: 114 cm; Width: 100 cm
Royal Collection (Royal Alcázar Palace, Madrid, "Pinturas que se llevaron a la casa donde vivio el Marques de Bedmar", 1734, no. 860; Buen Retiro Palace, Madrid, "Pintura entregadas en dhas. Casas Arzobispales a Dn Santiago de Bonabia", 1747, no. 860; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "Estudio de Andrés de la Calleja", 1772, no. 860; New Royal Palace, "Pieza de paso a la de vestir", 1794; New Royal Palace, "Cuarta pieza de librería", 1814-1818; Museo Real de Pinturas a la muerte de Fernando VII, Madrid, "Salón 1º Escuela Holandesa", 1834, no. 156).

Bibliography +

Viardot, L., Les musées d'Espagne : guide et memento de l'artiste et du voyager, suivi de notices biographiques sur les principaux peintres de l'Espagne, Librairie de L. Hachette et Cie., París, 1860, pp. 98.

Cust, L., Anthony Van Dyck. An historical study of his life and works, George Bell and Sons, London, 1900, pp. 248, n. 34.

Wurzbzch, Alfred Von, Niederlandisches Kunstler-Lexikon, I, Verlag Von Halm Und Goldmann, Wien-Leipzig, 1906-1911, pp. 458.

Schaëffer, E., Van Dyck des meisters gemälde in 537 abbildungen, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart-Leipzig, 1909, pp. 448.

Beroqui, P, Adiciones y correcciones al catálogo del Museo del Prado, Imp. de E. Zapatero, Valladolid, 1917, pp. 161.

Tormo y Monzó, E., Visitando lo no visitable, Boletín de la Sociedad Española de Excursiones, 25, 1917, pp. 161.

Mayer, A. L., Meisterwerke Der Gemäldesammlung der Prado in Madrid, Franz Hanfstaengl, Munich, 1922, pp. 278.

Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier y Beroqui, Pedro, Inventarios Reales en 12 Volumenes y Un Indice (Fotocopias) (procedencia/provenanace), 1923.

Glück, G., Van Dyck. Des Meisters Gemalde in 571 Abbildungen, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart-Berlín, 1931, pp. 543.

Tromo y Monzó, E., El centenario de Van Dyck en la patria de Velázquez, Boletín de la Sociedad Española de Excursiones, XLIX, 1941, pp. 162.

Trapier, E. du Gué, The School of Madrid and Van Dyck, The Burlington Magazine, XCIX, 1957, pp. 269.

Díaz Padrón, Matías, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de pinturas. Escuela flamenca, I, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1975, pp. 122-123.

Vlieghe, Hans, Recesión a Matías Díaz Padrón. Museo del Prado. Catálogo de pinturas, I. Escuela flamenca, siglo XVII., The Art bulletin, 1979.

Brown, C., Van Dyck, Phaidon, Oxford, 1982, pp. 120.

Larsen, E., The paintings of Anthony van Dyck, II, Luca Verlag, Freren, 1988, pp. 287, n. 719.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990, pp. n. 1546.

The new Hollstein Dutch & Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts. 1450-1700, VII, Sound & Vision Publishers, Rotterdam, 1994, pp. 130, n. 538.

Díaz Padrón, Matías, El siglo de Rubens en el Museo del Prado: catálogo razonado, I, Prensa Ibérica, Barcelona, 1995, pp. 430-431.

Anes, Gonzalo, Las colecciones reales y la fundación del Museo del Prado, Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, pp. 176.

Anthony van Dyck as a printmaker, Amberes Open -Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, 1999, pp. 258, n. 35.

Brown, C., Van Dyck 1599-1641, Amberes-Londres, 1999, pp. 258.

Bernardini, M. G., Amton Van Dyck. Riflessi italiano, Skira, Milano, 2004, pp. 43, 166.

Aterido Fernández, Ángel; Martínez Cuesta, Juan; Pérez Preciado, José Juan, Colecciones de pinturas de Felipe V e Isabel Farnesio: inventarios reales, II, Fundación de Apoyo de la Historia del Arte Hispánico, Madrid, 2004.

De Tiziano a Goya. Grandes maestros del Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado-SEACEX, Madrid, 2007, pp. 252.

Valerio Castello, 1624-1659. Genio moderno, Skira, Milán, 2008.

Díaz Padrón, Matías, Van Dyck en España, I, Prensa Ibérica, Barcelona, 2012, pp. 302-305, n. 18.

Rubens, Van Dyck y la Edad de Oro del grabado flamenco, Biblioteca Nacional de España, Madrid, 2015, pp. n.46 p124-125.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 1333.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1546.
Van-Dyck / 1546. La Virgen de las Angustias. / Nuestra Señora, sentada, tiene en su regazo a su divino hijo difunto. La Magdalena besa la mano del Señor. San Juan esta algo mas retirado.(C.L.) / Alto 4 pies, 1 pulg; ancho 3 pies, 7 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 1546.

Museo Real de Pinturas a la muerte de Fernando VII, 1834. Núm. 156.
Salon 1º Escuela Holandesa […] Ciento cincuenta y seis. La Virgen de las Angustias de Van-Dik Lº 30.280

Inv. Felipe V, Buen Retiro, 1747. Núm. 860.
Pintura enttregadas en dhas. Casas Arzobispales a Dn Santiago de Bonabia [...] 860 / Un Lienzo de Vara y ttercia de altto y vara y quartta de ancho de la piedad Christto muertto la Virgen san Juan y la Magdalena original de Bandic en nueue mil rrs de von

Inv. Alcázar, Madrid, 1734. Núm. 860.
Pinturas que se llevaron a la casa donde vivio el Marques de Bedmar [...] 860 / Otro de vara y tercia de alto y vara y quarta de ancho sin marco algo maltratada de la Piedad de Christo muerto la Virgen san Juan y la Magdalena original del Van Dic

Inv. Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1772. Núm. 860.
Estudio de don Andres de la Calleja [...] 860 / Otro de Cristo difunto en el regazo de Maria Santísima con san Juan y la Magdalena de vara y tercia de alto y vara y quarta de ancho escuela de Van Dick = colocada en nuevo Real Palacio segun recibo de don José Mexia de 25 abril 1781

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. s. n..
Quarta pieza de libreria [...] {21430} vara y media alto poco menos ancho Cristo muerto con la Virgen La Magdalena y S. Juan - Van Dick

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1794. Núm. s.n..
Pieza de paso a la de bestir s.n. [...] {13551} Vara y quarta de alto y vara de ancho el Descendimiento de la Cruz – Vandic – 8000

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in red color. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

Rubens, Van Dyck y la Edad de Oro del grabado flamenco
05.11.2015 - 31.01.2016

Valerio Castello (1624-1659). La música del Barroco
15.02.2008 - 15.06.2008

From Titian to Goya. Great Masters from the Museo del Prado
13.09.2007 - 12.11.2007

From Titian to Goya. Great Masters from the Museo del Prado
29.06.2007 - 24.08.2007

De Tiziano a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado
14.07.2006 - 15.10.2006

De Tiziano a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado
24.03.2006 - 02.07.2006

Anton Van Dyck. Riflessi italiani
19.02.2004 - 05.07.2004

Location +

Room 016B (On Display)


Displayed objects +

Objects from Christ's Passion

Update date: 11-04-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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