Before us – two artists, two men of genius. Anthony van Dyck – Flemish portraitist, English leading court painter. Joshua Reynolds – English artist, President of Royal Academy of Arts (1768-1792). It is generally known that Flemish School of Painting has had a notable influence on English portrait-painting, which lasted for more than century and a half.
Color scheme, deep tones, broad brushstrokes – all these two portraits have in common. A scroll in the fist of the first figure, a gold chain over the shoulder of the second may have some sort of symbolism. A scroll in the clenched fist, I believe, may be regarded as some sort of power, a gold chain – charges and devotions, sunflowers – close connections to nature, aspiration for beauty.
What else attracts spectator’s attention is clothing. First man is wearing raspberry-red robe. Another man is wearing XVII-century costume of the similar color (more dense, rich in contrast and bright). Dazzling white cuffs are fascinating, being so deep and pure. What really impresses me in baroque portraits is eye expression. A golden chain at Sir Dyck’s self-portrait can be also regarded as something avoidless, so much wisdom and deep sadness is in the sight. However, a chain goes into the dark, which also is a distinctive symbol: a chain of gold as a stream of live - all your achievements, people you loved, all on Earth that keeps you here and makes you alive. White puffy clouds, contrasting surrounding darkness, makes you believe that may be the clouds will fade away and the sun will come out and shine. Calm, rough but prehensive and cold sight of Sir Reynold’s self-portrait contrasts to that of Sir van Dyck’s.
Glimmers of light just before the eyes of the figures at the pictures prove that even in the darkest hours, in the cruelest times there is a hope for light.
To us, people living nowadays, far from chef-d'œuvres, far from art, far from each other, it is important to remember and care for divine sparks, happening among us. Far or close, but they belong to the universe, they relate to each of us.