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Probably by Jacob van Oost the Elder, 'Two Boys before an Easel', about 1645

Key facts
Full title Two Boys before an Easel
Artist Probably by Jacob van Oost the Elder
Artist dates 1601 - 1671
Date made about 1645
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 56.5 × 58.7 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Sir Henry Howorth through the Art Fund in memory of Lady Howorth, 1922.
Inventory number NG3649
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Two Boys before an Easel
Probably by Jacob van Oost the Elder

Two boys stand in front of a large picture displayed on a wooden easel. The snub-nosed child on the right leans over to study the drawing more closely, while the other turns, frowning slightly, to look at something out of view. The central figure is quite possibly a self portrait by the artist. He holds a board with a blank sheet of paper on, perhaps in anticipation of making a sketch after the work, or to start another.

The monochrome drawing depicts an episode from story of Gideon, as told in the Old Testament (Judges 7: 5–6). God advised Gideon, a military leader, to select his army by asking the men to drink water from a pool. Those who lapped the water with their tongues like dogs were the chosen ones, and would help Gideon secure victory over the Midianites.

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