In the time of Van Dyck there was living in Antwerp a family of ancient lineage who bore the name of Colyns de Nole. For three centuries there had been sculptors among the men of this name. The talent had been handed down from father to son through the several generations, and sometimes there were two or three of the family working together in the art. The old churches of Antwerp contained some fine specimens of their work.[4]

[4] A full account of the several members of this family is given in the Biographie Nationale, published by the Royal Belgian Academy of Science, Literature and Fine Arts, Brussels, 1899.

Andreas Colyns de Nole was of nearly the same age as Van Dyck, and a worthy representative of his famous family. He was the sculptor of the beautiful monument of Henry van Balen in the Church of St. Jacques, and of a Pietà in the Church of Notre Dame. The sculptor and the painter became good friends, and it was a natural consequence that the latter should paint the portrait of his friend and of his family. He made two companion pictures, one of the sculptor, and the other of his wife and the little daughter.

The lady is seated in an arm-chair, letting her placid glance stray across the room. There is a little touch of weariness in her manner, as if she were glad to sit down for a few moments' rest. She is a busy housewife and mother, with many domestic duties on her mind. In her strong, capable way she has long borne the family burdens. The face is full of motherly sweetness; the expression is patient and serene, as of one well schooled in the lessons of life. This is indeed the "virtuous woman" whose price the wise man of old set "far above rubies."

"She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her."[5]

[5] Proverbs, chapter xxx., verses 26-28.

The child is as like the mother as possible in features. Her round face is quaintly framed in a close lace-trimmed cap. She is a shy little creature, and is rather afraid of the strange painter. So she keeps as far as possible in the shelter of her mother's big sleeve. The hour drags wearily by. The studio is a dull place, and the sunshine without very inviting. The child pulls impatiently at her mother's arm, and, as the painter speaks, she looks timidly around, wondering what he will think of such a rude little girl.

Munich Gallery

The artist is secretly much amused by the small young lady's behavior. He has a shrewd insight into children's thoughts, and sympathizes with their moods. He does not try to persuade her to sit for him, but he catches her pose just as she stands here. The mother, too, is wise enough to let the child alone, and the picture is made as we see it.

As we compare it with the former illustration of the man with his little boy, it is amusing to see the contrast between the two children. The boy has such a grave sense of responsibility, while the girl cares nothing for the portrait. She would doubtless think the boy very tiresome.

We are apt to think of the children of past centuries as altogether different beings from those of our own day. With few toys and books and pictures such as we have now, they must have been, we fancy, very sedate little creatures. A child portrait like this in our illustration dispels these false ideas. This little daughter of a seventeenth-century sculptor is as full of life and spirits as any child of to-day. Barring her quaint dress and foreign tongue she would be at home with children of her own age in any period or country.

The lady's dress is in a style similar to that which we have already studied in the portrait of our first illustration. The stiff bodice, with the long pointed front and square neck, the broad lace-trimmed collar, the large sleeves, and the wide cuffs turned back from the wrist, are details common to the two pictures. This costume, however, is somewhat less elegant than that of the English lady and more suggestive of every-day wear in the home. The collar is less elaborate, and not stiff; the neck is entirely covered with soft white material, fastened at the throat with a small brooch. A seal ring adorns each hand, worn on the index finger.

We recognize the pillar in the background as a common setting in Van Dyck's portraits. The taste of this time was rather artificial in such matters, and inclined to stateliness. There is here no vista beyond the pillar, no glimpse into another apartment, but the space is, as it were, completely walled in.