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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.
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