Sir Anthony can Dyck was a Flemish artist who became the leading court painter in England. He is most famous for his portraits of Charles I of England (1600 – 1649), his family and court, painted with a relaxed elegance that was to be the dominant influence on English portrait-painting for the next 150 years. He also painted biblical and mythological subjects, displayed outstanding facility as a draftsman, and was an important innovator in watercolour and etching.
His talent was evident very early, and he was studying painting with Hendrick van Balen (1575 – 1632) by 1609, and became an independent painter around 1615, setting up a workshop with his even younger friend Jan Brueghel the Younger (1601 – 1678). Even at the age of fifteen he was already a highly accomplished artist and was eventually admitted to the Antwerp painters' Guild of Saint Luke as a free master by February 1618. Van Dyck became and assistant with Peter Paul Rubens (1577 – 1640) and his influence on the young artist was immense; Rubens referred to the nineteen-year-old van Dyck as 'the best of my pupils'.
In 1621 he moved to Italy, where he studied the great masters and then went on to London. His great success compelled van Dyck to maintain a large workshop in London, a studio which was to become "virtually a production line for portraits". A number of these portraits are now in the Uffizi Gallery, including: Portrait of Jean de Montfort, Charles V on Horseback, Portrait of a Woman (though to be the mother of the painter Justus Sustermans, 1597 – 1681), Portrait of Marguerite of Lorraine, Duchess of Orléans, and Portrait of Isabella Brandt.
(Some of this text is taken from the www.wikipedia.org entry on Sir Anthony van Dyck, available under GNU Free Documentation License)