Larissa Weiler

Sympathetic minds. Anthony van Dyck’s English friendship portraits

Anthony van Dyck: Sir Endymion Porter and van Dyck, ©

The dissertation project “Sympathetic minds. Anthony van Dyck’s English friendship portraits” examines van Dyck's portrait painting during his time at the English court in the context of contemporary developments in natural philosophy. It focuses on a group of portraits by van Dyck that are for the first time recognized as a sort of friendship portrait. Reconstructing the network of learned Gentlemen around the artist during his stay at the English court, it  will analyse the portraits considering the developments of natural philosophy and the turn to experimental exploration of nature and mankind. In this, friendship serves as a premise in the making of knowledge and becomes a precursor for the not yet existing institutions. Claiming that the fields of painting and natural philosophy are intertwining and influencing each other, this project will examine the thesis that van Dyck participated in the production of knowledge resulting from this symbiotic culture of friendship and the phenomenon of the Virtuoso, by offering a complex medial site of discourse in his portraits. Discourses of nature and art of the early 17th century intertwine and interact with each other. Van Dyck translates these interrelationships into painting and acts as a mediator on the practical artistic level, advancing an English art discourse that was still developing at the time. The aim of this dissertation project is to rethink traditional readings of van Dyck's oeuvre, but also of the genre of the portrait in early modern times and to offer new perspectives.

Personal Data

Larissa Weiler studied art history, Romance philology, and Asian and Islamic art history at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn and the Université Paris-Sorbonne between 2009 and 2015. Since 2016 she has been working on her doctorate at the University of Konstanz and is supervised by Prof. Dr. Karin Leonhard and Prof. Dr. Christine Göttler (University of Bern). She worked as a research assistant to Prof. Dr. Karin Leonhard in the research project "COLOR. Geschichte der Theorie und Praxis der Farbe" (History of Theory and Practice of Color) and has held several teaching positions at the University of Konstanz in the field of architectural history since 2016. Since 2018 she is a scholarship holder of the Cusanuswerk. Her research interests lie in the field of portrait painting and image theory, especially in the 17th century, the history of science, as well as the relationship between painting and materiality, artist knowledge and knowledge transfer.

Supervisory Team  
Primary Supervisor Prof. Dr. Karin Leonhard, Universtität Konstanz
Secondary Supervisor Prof. Dr. Christine Göttler, Universtität Bern