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This family portrait is perhaps Van Dyck's most ambitious work from his six year spell in Italy from 1621 to 1627
Genoa was the artist's home for an extended period and at this time it was a rich port city with plenty of wealthy donors to potentially offer commissioned work to the likes of Van Dyck. Giacomo Lomellini was the head of the city's provincial government, with Italy being separated into Papal States at that time. These states would compete with each other to have the grandest capital cities with art and architecture playing a large role in that battle.
Due to a rule of being in office, the commissioning donor himself was unable to appear in this painting and so he directed the artist to capture his two eldest sons, his wife and their two children. Only the most wealthy and well connected families could manage to commission the services of Van Dyck whose reputation placed him amongst the finest of all portrait painters in Europe. His work in Italy would further enhance his career and then lead on to his work in England.
The Scottish National Gallery is amongst the most significant venues for art in the UK and has built up a fine collection of European art over the past few centuries. It has remained at this location since 1859, other than the occasional loan elsewhere, having initially been purchased by the Royal Institution in 1830 and then later transferred over.
The gallery features as part of its permanent collection, and therefore will normally be out on display, paintings such as Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child by Sandro Botticelli, Haystacks by Claude Monet, Diana and Actaeon by Titian, Christ in the House of Martha and Mary by Vermeer and Old Woman Frying Eggs by Diego Velazquez. There are also some of the most famous Scottish artists here too, such as Allan Ramsay and Sir Henry Raeburn.