Sir Robert Howard, K.B. (1583/4 - 1653)

Sir Anthony van Dyck
1599 – 1641

Sir Robert Howard, K.B. (1583/4 - 1653)

Painted circa 1630

Oil on canvas: 42 3/4 x 33 1/2 inches, 106.9 x 83.8 cm

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Provenance

  • with The Weiss Gallery, 2011, sold to
  • Private Collection, U.K.

This unpublished portrait of Sir Robert Howard is characteristic of Van Dyck’s English period, painted with a fluid economy of line. The sitter is portrayed in a self-assured pose, with one arm akimbo, gazing directly at the beholder, set in relief by a neutral background. The ribbon of the Order of the Bath provides a splash of vivid red in Van Dyck’s otherwise restrained colour scheme. Sir Robert sports a moustache and beard and his hair is worn long, with a fashionable lovelock cascading over his left shoulder. It is his one apparent concession to frivolity, although in fact it was a bold act of defiance, a proclamation of his love for another man’s wife. Simple in conception, the painting is enlivened with flowing brushstrokes that skillfully render the sitter’s white chemise and cuffs, and the sheen of his black silk garments. The broad, almost sketchy manner of its handling indicates a date in the late 1630s.

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