Van Dyck curiousness in the US
January 18 2016
Picture: The Georgia Museum of Art
The Georgia Museum of Art in the US has announced the acquisition of a portrait it says in by Anthony Van Dyck, of Archbishop William Laud:
Van Dyck’s painting, a large portrait of Archbishop William Laud, was donated to the museum by Dr. and Mrs. M. Daniel Byrd, of Atlanta. [...] The painting is on display in the museum’s H. Randolph Holder Gallery. Lynn Boland, Pierre Daura Curator of European Art, said, “This world-class example of 17th-century portraiture, offering multiple avenues for interdisciplinary study, will serve as a lynchpin for the museum's small but important collection of European painting. Acquisitions of this significance would be beyond our reach were it not for the generosity of donors like the Byrds.”
I'm sorry to rain on the Georgia Museum's parade but this picture is not, alas, by Van Dyck. The picture listed as the original in the 2004 Yale catalogue raisonné is in the Fitzwilliam Museum in the UK (below), and is of course significantly better than the picture seen above. You can see a higher resolution image of the Georgia picture here. Notice in particular the angular and clumsy drapery.
Van Dyck's portrait of Laud was much copied, and confusion often arises over the various copies and studio versions that were made. Indeed, the Codart website, in its reporting of the Georgia acquisition, in fact reproduces the Fitzwilliam painting. A little Googling reveals that the Georgia picture was in fact recently offered at auction (and seemingly by the current donors too) in the US as 'Studio of Van Dyck'. It did not sell, against an estimate of $100,000-$150,000. The auction house stated that the attribution to Van Dyck was supported by the late Prof. Erik Larsen, who did indeed write a catalogue raisonné of Van Dyck's work. It is perhaps the most inept catalogue raisonné ever - even the front cover shows a copy. For more AHN on Larsen, see here.
From the photos currently available I'm not even sure the Georgia picture even qualifies as 'studio'.
The Georgia Museum's press release is here.
Update - the story was picked up by The Independent, which prompted a slight climbdown from the museum. Though they still describe the picture as 'world class' it is now described as 'Van Dyck and Studio'. On what grounds I am not entirely sure - but obviously it's hard to be certain from the image.