Van Dyck and Beards

The 17th-century Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641) is famous not only as an artist but also for a particular style of facial hair, the goatee/moustache combo now known as a “Van Dyke”, as demonstrated by the man himself in this self-portrait:

What I didn’t realise until recently however that van Dyck painted a very large number of studies of men with all kinds of beards. Here is a particularly fine example (Study of a Bearded Man with Hands Raised, 1616).

I’m not an expert but based on the poses I suspect these studies were done in preparation for paintings with biblical themes. Indeed the model looks rather similar to the figure in Jude The Apostle completed about three years later:

4 Responses to “Van Dyck and Beards”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    Yes, the book suggests scripture rather than the classical world, and the place in which written scripture was quoted is the New Testament wherein its characters quoted the Old. I’d guess tyhat van Dyck had in mind St Paul or John the Baptist – or possibly one of the four gospel writers having just written his gospel.

    • telescoper Says:

      Van Dyck painted a famous series of Apostles of which 11 survive.

      The figure in Jude the Apostle looks like it could have been based on the same model.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Indeed. Jude did write a bit of the New Testament, but a very small bit – his letter is not long enough to be subdivided into chapters, just verses. (Both the chapter subdivisions and the later verse subsubdivisions are mediaeval, and a few of them are clearly in the wrong place.)

  2. I never saw that self portrait before. It’s marvelous. Love the giant flower.

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