The seventh of twelve children born to a wealthy silk merchant in Belgium, Anthony van Dyck began to paint at an early age. By the age of nineteen, he had become a teacher in Antwerp. Soon afterward, he collaborated and trained with the famous Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens.
In his early twenties, van Dyck went to Italy, where he studied the paintings of Titian and Paolo Veronese and worked as a successful portrait painter for the Italian nobility. He became so well known that King Charles I of England summoned him to London to be his exclusive court painter and eventually gave him a knighthood. Van Dyck's numerous portraits of Charles I and his family were greatly admired by his contemporaries. Realizing that Charles's political and financial fortunes were in decline, van Dyck left England for Antwerp and Paris. A year later, after several unsuccessful projects abroad, he returned to London in ill health and died shortly thereafter. Van Dyck is buried in Saint Paul's Cathedral, a distinction reserved only for illustrious British subjects.