About this artwork

As a young artist, Van dyck spent six years in Italy, from 1621 to 1627. He ws based in the rich port of Genoa, where he painted sumptuous portraits of the local nobility. This is Van Dyck’s grandest and most ambitious portrait of the period, painted for the Lomellini family. Giacomo Lomellini was Doge of Genoa (head of the city’s government) from 1625-27. He does not appear here, because portraits of the doge in office were forbidden to prevent personal promotion. Giacomo’s two eldest sons are shown standing next to his second wife and their two children. It is a magnificent image of family pride and prestige and anticipates Van Dyck’s royal family portraits for Charles I.

Sir Anthony van Dyck

Sir Anthony van Dyck

Van Dyck is perhaps most famous for the grand and elegant portraits he painted of the British aristocracy when he was court painter to King Charles I. He trained in Antwerp, and worked in Rubens’s studio as an assistant. His outstanding talents were recognised and encouraged by Rubens, who described him as his ‘best pupil’. Van Dyck developed his sumptuous portrait style during time spent in Italy, but also painted impressive religious, allegorical and mythical works. After returning to Antwerp for several years, Van Dyck moved to London in 1632, having accepted the King’s invitation to work for him, and remained there for the rest of his short but influential career.