Page 9 - Finding Van Dyck

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Every time a work of art is bought for reasons of love it is
a discovery of sorts, albeit of a personal regard or strong
emotional connection that has been visually crystallised.
The desire to then inform others, to display or express this
attachment, follows naturally. The professional activities of we
and our colleagues in the art trade are similar. By getting to
know the signature strokes and habits of a great master, the
characteristics of age, restoration and degradation, the eye
becomes attuned, and even though there may not be many
others around who can see it as you do, it can appear little
short of sinful not to express and share the excitement of it all.
Using items acquired by ourselves as well as loans, this
exhibition attempts to articulate the often arcane process of
discovering lost paintings – the ways and means by which
a master can be identified when he had been missed or
overlooked. It involves excavation, science, observation and
research – as well as a fair degree of sometimes hair-raising
financial risk. It is entirely appropriate for a gallery that has
devoted itself to British portraiture for the last two decades
to base this around Van Dyck and his followers. The greatest
portrait painter at work in England in the 17th century, Van
Dyck’s skills of illusion massively increased the emotional
range of portrait painting in this country, raising the sitter’s
expectations to almost unattainable levels in the decades
following his death. In sleeper hunting terms, he’s the man.
We have been greatly serviced by the generous loans and
collaboration of others listed above. An exhibition without this
assistance would be impossible and I would like to express
my personal thanks for helping us to make this happen. This
exhibition is also a tribute to Dr Bendor Grosvenor who never
seems to sleep, and who with other members of our staff has
worked tirelessly to write and bring together this catalogue
and exhibition.
Philip Mould OBE
Sir Anthony Van Dyck,
Portrait of a Young Girl