This imposing double portrait shows the youngest sons of the third Duke of Lennox. Lord John Stuart (1621 - 1644), left, and Lord Bernard Stuart (1622 - 1645) were younger brothers of the Duke of Richmond and Lord George Stuart, who also sat for Van Dyck. Both young men fell on the Royalist side in the Civil War.
The brothers were granted leave to make a three-year tour of the Continent in 1639 and may have sat for Van Dyck shortly before their departure. The simple background sets off the aquiline features, confident poses and rich clothing.
From The National Gallery Podcast: Episode Twenty One, July 2008