Save van Dyck’s Self-Portrait!

I’m always keen on a worthy historical cause, and this one came to my attention a few days ago in an email from the National Portrait Gallery. Van Dyck, as many readers of this website already know, was a very important Flemish painter during the early-to-middle part of the 17th Century and famously produced many portraits of the British aristocracy and King Charles I. He was the talented hand behind these stunning, memorable and historical works of art:

Equestrian Portrait of Charles I, about 1637-8. Anthony van Dyck. © The National Gallery, London.

Equestrian Portrait of Charles I, about 1637-8. Anthony van Dyck. © The National Gallery, London.

Prince Rupert, Count Palatine, about 1637. Studio of Anthony van Dyck. © The National Gallery, London.

Prince Rupert, Count Palatine, about 1637. Studio of Anthony van Dyck. © The National Gallery, London.

Detail from "Portraits of Two Young Englishmen", about 1635-40, Anthony van Dyck. © The National Gallery, London.

Detail from “Portraits of Two Young Englishmen”,
about 1635-40, Anthony van Dyck. © The National Gallery, London.

From a historical context, this van Dyck is a very important piece, for it was his last self-portrait (there were a total of three in his life). So, why is The Art Fund and The National Portrait Gallery trying to raise funds? Here’s the situation, as described on the official appeal website: “The painting has been sold to an overseas buyer, but it is temporarily barred from export, giving us a chance to raise the money to buy it.” As for the painting in question, it’s an exquisite work, as you can see below:

Self-portrait by Van Dyck, 1640/41 © Philip Mould & Co.

Self-portrait by Van Dyck, 1640/41
© Philip Mould & Co.

If you’re like me, you already have a high appreciation for the care and dedication the National Portrait Gallery has shown continuously to preserve the rich art history of the country.  We have already recently seen what such schemes are capable of. Only recently, Jane Austen’s ring was bought by American singer Kelly Clarkson, and it, too, was placed on a temporary export ban. Janeites and history fans alike donated over £100,000 to keep the ring in England.

According to the Telegraph article, “A foreign owner of any item considered a “national treasure” must apply for an export licence before a committee decides whether or not to grant it.”

This is our chance to keep this national treasure where it belongs – here in the United Kingdom.

And as Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, said: “If we can raise the necessary funds it will be available to everyone in Britain, having previously hung in private collections. This masterpiece occupies a key place in British art and history, and we plan to display the portrait here at the Gallery and also to show it with partner museums and galleries around the country. Each and every donation, small and large, will bring us closer to our target of £12.5m and play a part in placing this painting in a public setting.”

Here is a close-up of the portrait:

National Portrait Gallery/Art Fund

National Portrait Gallery/Art Fund

I have just donated to this appeal. Will you join me and Save van Dyck’s last self-portrait? You’ll not only be saving one of this master’s works, but you will be saving a piece of 17th century history. Your history, our history.

Please go to www.savevandyck.org/

If YOU know of a cause related to the 17th Century, do get in touch via “Quill & Ink” which is my contact form in the menu at the top of this page, and I will reply as soon as possible. The more we can publicise a potential problem for heritage, the more we can work to stop it. Thank you.

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