Straight in at No.1 - it's Van Dyck

May 30 2011

Sir Roy Strong ranks the ten greatest portraits ever painted. No.1 is Van Dyck's Lord John and Lord Bernard Stuart [National Gallery, London]. 

Although I too would be tempted to put Van Dyck at No.1 in any list of great portraitists, sadly, the compromised condition of the Stuart painting rules it out for me. Over-cleaning and and a harsh re-lining has left it with a slightly hard-boiled look. See for yourself by zooming in here - and compare it with one of Van Dyck's best portraits still in good condition, here.

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