Portrait of the Lomellini family | Sir Anthony van Dyck | 1623
The precocious and gifted van Dyck, with 15 years, set his own workshop in Flandes, Netherlands. During a trip to London, he gets to see the work by Titian for the first time: the impression that this caused to the artist was such that he decides to leave his country to move and learn from the great masters in Italy. It was the year 1621 and van Dyck, with 22 years, begins to live in Genoa, at the north of the country.
The he devotes himself to portraits, which evidently provided him the means to live. He became famous among the rich and he is introduced to Giacomo Lomellini, the doge of Genoa. He commissions him a portrait of his family, which will be today’s painting.
It is curious that, in Italy, the doges had forbidden to pose for portraits. This way, they avoided any doge to make personal promotion. So, Giacomo, the father of the family, does not appear in the portrait. The ones who do are the sons of his first marriage, standing at the background; his second wife, sitting at the centre; and his two younger children, at the right of the painting. The most interesting thing about this almost-velazquian portrait (Spaniel included), are the gaze of the members of the family, as they all point towards different directions: one of the oldest sons looks up front, while the other looks at the left; the mother looks at the spectator out of the corner of her eye and, at last, the two children look confusedly to each other. The looks make this painting spontaneous, which is uncommon in portraits.
Sometime after, the artist will paint for Charles I from England and will change his name from Antoon to Anthony and will receive the honor to become a sir.