A gentleman has brought his little boy to our painter's studio for a portrait sitting. Father and son are close friends and understand each other well. On the way they have talked of the picture that is to be made, and the boy has asked many questions about it. It is rather a tedious prospect to an active child to have to sit still a long time. But his father's companionship is his greatest delight, and it is a rare treat to both to have a whole morning together. Besides, they have a book with them, a new publication from the Plantin printing press, and the father has promised to read something to him.

The two are richly dressed for the event, the father in black with a fur mantle, and the boy in white satin embroidered with gold. The man wears the stiff quilled ruff of the period, the boy a round collar of soft lace. It is not every day in the year that a little boy is allowed to wear his best satin doublet, and the child feels the gravity of the occasion. We may suppose that these are people of distinction, and that on certain great occasions the boy accompanies his father to court. Perhaps, too, as the eldest son of the house, he is sometimes given a seat at a great banquet, or is brought into the tapestried hall to meet an honored guest. It is at such times that he would be dressed as in the picture. In our own day a child's finery brings to mind dancing classes and parties, but in these far away times it is associated only with stately ceremonies.

The painter has led his guests to a place near a window, where, looking over their shoulders, one sees a bit of pleasant country. The man draws the boy towards him and lays one hand on the child's shoulder. At the painter's bidding, the little fellow puts his right arm akimbo, imitating the attitude in some of the portraits of the studio. The pose suits perfectly the quaint dignity of the little figure.

It is a proud moment for the boy. It makes him almost a man to be treated as an equal by his father. Not for worlds would he do anything to spoil the picture; he feels the responsibility of carrying out his part well. He regards the painter with solemn eyes, watching intently every motion of the pencil.

There is a gleam of humor in the father's eyes as he too looks in the same direction. He is a man of large affairs, we are sure. His high forehead shows rare mental powers, and he has the judicial expression of one whose counsel would be worth following. Yet there is that in his face which shows the quiet tastes of the scholar. With his boy beside him and a book in his hand, he is content to let the great world go its way. Nevertheless he is something of a courtier, as his station in life requires, a distinguished figure in any great company. The face is one of striking nobility of character. He is a man in whom we could place great confidence.

The Louvre, Paris

Two qualities of the portrait give it artistic value, life-likeness, and character. The figures almost seem to speak to us from the canvas, and we feel a sense of intimacy with them, as if we had actually known them in real life. Indeed there is very little in the picture to make it seem foreign to our own surroundings. The stiff ruff is the most distinctly old-fashioned feature. The man's closely cut pointed beard is such as has long been called the "Van Dyck beard." The painter wore his own trimmed in the same way, which seems at one time to have been equally the fashion in England and on the continent.

We remark in the picture the excellent characterization of the hands. In later days when the painter was busier, he often assigned this part of the work to assistants. They did not try to reproduce the hand of the portrait sitter, but painted this feature from a model. Now this man's hand is plainly his own; it is of a character with the face, strong and sensitive.

The landscape view is an important element in the picture. If we compare our illustration with others which have no such setting, we shall better understand its value. An enclosed space sets a more or less definite limit to the imagination. A glimpse of the country, on the other hand, suggests wide spaces for the fancy to explore. It will also be noticed that this light spot in the upper right corner balances well the white costume of the boy in the lower left corner.

The portrait group of our illustration has long borne the title of Jean Grusset Richardot and his Son. This Richardot was a celebrated Flemish diplomat of the sixteenth century, and president of the Privy Council of the Low Countries. As he died in Van Dyck's boyhood, his portrait could not have been made by our painter directly from life. Nor can we believe with some that years after the diplomat's death Van Dyck copied from some old picture the likeness seen here. A portrait painted in this way would not have the vitality of our illustration. We are therefore obliged to consider the picture nameless; but our enjoyment of its good qualities is by no means less keen.