From the museum website, 11 September 2012
On 20 November the Museo del Prado will be inaugurating this important exhibition, one of the largest to be devoted to the work of Van Dyck (1599-1641) anywhere in the world and the first to be held in Spain. Focusing exclusively on his early period, the exhibition will span the years between 1613, when Van Dyck was fourteen, to his departure from Antwerp for Italy in October 1621. Over the course of those eight years of his early career Van Dyck painted around 160 works, many of them large-format, ambitious compositions of which the Prado now possesses the most important collection.
Featuring ninety paintings and drawings, the exhibition will allow for an in-depth study of the young artist’s career, highlighting the fact that his precocious talents revealed themselves not only with regard to the number of works that he produced but also their quality. Had he only produced these paintings from the first part of his career, Van Dyck would still be regarded as one of the most important artists of the 17th century.
The exhibition will include important works that demonstrate the way in which Van Dyck’s precocious talents allowed him to create strikingly original masterpieces such as The Taking of Christ (Museo del Prado) and Saint Jerome in the Desert (Dresden, Gemäldegalerie). Works such as Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem (Indianapolis Museum of Art) and The Lamentation (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford) will reveal Van Dyck at his most experimental, in search of new ways of increasing the visual impact of his compositions. Van Dyck also collaborated with Rubens (1577-1640) and was one of the first painters to rise to the challenge of his omnipresent influence, evident in works such as The Crowning with Thorns (Museo del Prado), in which the inclusion of figures close to those of Rubens does not prevent a clear appreciation in the other figures of the young artist’s determination to define his own style.