In this ongoing series for Fine Art Today, we take a longer look at the history and features of a soon-to-be-available artwork of note. This week: Sir Anthony Van Dyck, “Mary Magdalena.”
Arguably the most important Flemish painter of the 17th century after Peter Paul Rubens, Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641) was an extremely successful painter of portraits, as well as mythological and religious subjects. Court painter to Charles I, Van Dyck was also an accomplished draftsman and creator of etchings, of which several examples have survived.
Scholars have suggested that Van Dyck’s flattering representations of Charles I and his family set a new standard in English royal portraiture for centuries to come. Although much of his life was spent in England, Van Dyck made travels throughout Europe, including Italy, where the works of Titian are said to have made a major impression on the artist and the paintings that would follow after 1621.
Available via Akiba Antiques on August 16 in Dania Beach, Florida, “Mary Magdalena” is a rare opportunity to acquire an original from Van Dyck. In good condition, the piece has been verified by numerous scholars as by the master’s hand. The relatively small panel presents the viewer with a penitent subject, nude and hefty — undoubtedly a preference taken from Van Dyck’s mentor Peter Paul Rubens. Tears streaming from her face, Mary gazes toward the heavens. Her long red hair shows a soft glow from behind — perhaps hinting at her divine favor. The spatial context of the scene is rather vague, but hidden branches of foliage, a few trees, and a shoreline complete the piece.
Auction estimates are between $100,000 and $200,000. To view the full catalogue, visit Akiba Antiques.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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