Van Dyck and Sicily

1624-1625. Painting and the plague

  • Edited by Xavier F. Salomon
  • Binding Paperback with flaps
  • Size 23,5 x 28 cm
  • Pages 120
  • Illustrations 72 colour illustrations
  • Language English
  • Year 2012
  • ISBN 9788836621729
  • Price € 28,00  € 26,60
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In the Spring of 1624, the twenty-five-year-old Anthony van Dyck boarded a ship in the harbour of Genoa. He had lived in Italy already for almost three years, having moved from Antwerp. The boat was to carry the young Flemish painter along the Tyrrhenian coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

The destination was Palermo, capital of Sicily, governed at the time by a Spanish viceroy, Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy. Until recently, it was believed that Van Dyck had managed to escape from Sicily only a few months after, in 1624. However, recent research has revealed that the painter stayed in Palermo longer than expected, until the autumn of 1625: during the year and a half of his residence in Palermo, Van Dyck lived through one of the most violent epidemics of seventeenth-century Italy. This exhibition catalogue brings together the threads of the researches of many scholars in trying to give a complete, as much as possible, picture of Van Dyck's stay in Sicily, during which he had also the chance to meet the extremely elderly portraitist Sofonisba Anguissola. For the first time, all the works that are documented, or believed to have been painted, between 1624 and 1625 in Palermo, are reunited: portraits and religious subjects images.

The most sigificant among the portraits is Emanuele Filiberto's one: he did not survive the plague, but his face and his astonishing armour on display beside the portrait will never be forgotten thanks to his young portaitist. The most significant group of paintings of religious subjects are the images of the city's patron Saint, Rosalia: the discovery of the bones of the Saint and the religious fervour that greeted it, gave to Van Dyck the opportunity to establish the Saint's visual iconography and produce several versions. Dr Salomon has painted us, in this catalogue, a profound and scholarly portrait himself: of an artist, a patron and a city brought together at a critical moment.

London, February - May 2012