Despite the title, the boy is not drawing but studying a sketchbook – there’s no sign of drawing implements. In front of him is a cast of the Christ Child from Michelangelo’s statue of the Virgin and Child (Church of Our Lady, Bruges) and another book of sketches, but the drawing we see on the open page clearly does not represent the face of the cast. The artist reverses our normal expectations by suggesting that the cast is studying the young artist immersed in his book, rather than the other way around.
This picture is probably an early copy of a painting in the Louvre, Paris, attributed to Wallerant Vaillant (though the work has also been attributed to Jan Lievens). Vaillant, a portraitist who was born in Lille but died in Amsterdam, depicted young artists sketching casts several times.
Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.
License and download a high resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.
This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.
Examples of non-commercial use are:
The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.
As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.
You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.