Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641)
In April 1624 Van Dyck sailed from Genoa to Palermo, Sicily, when plague broke out and the city was quarantined.
In July of that year the remains of the city’s 12th Century patron saint, Rosalie, were found on a nearby hillside where she had lived as a recluse.
The image of the saint was much in demand and by the time Van Dyck left Palermo in September 1625 he had painted six different compositions portraying St Rosalie.
The Apsley House work appears to be a preparatory version of the much larger painting in the Menil Collection, Houston, USA.
A related composition of St Rosalie interceding for the city of Palermo, which shows the saint on Mount Pellegrino is in the Museo de Arte, Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Born and trained in Antwerp, Van Dyck was, after Rubens, the most important 17th century Flemish painter. He enjoyed success in Flanders and Italy and he became court painter to Charles I of England. He was knighted in 1632