DYCK, Sir Anthony van
(b. 1599, Antwerpen, d. 1641, London)

Portrait of Prince Willem II of Orange as a Young Boy, with a Dog

c. 1632
Oil on canvas, 128 x 100 cm
Private collection

Two versions of this portrait of Prince Willem II of Orange (1626-1650) by van Dyck are recorded in period sources, one painted for the parents of Prince Willem II, and another version made for King Charles I of England. The portrait painted for the sitter's parent descended in the family and is today in Schloss Mosigkau. The present portrait is almost certainly the recorded version painted for King Charles I.

Although they make up only a fraction of his considerable and varied artistic output, van Dyck's depictions of children are among the most memorable and enchanting works that the artist ever produced. This portrait of Prince Willem II of Orange exemplifies the genre. It depicts the five-year-old young prince wearing a long gown of golden orange silk (the colour of his princely house) with slashed sleeves, decorated with lace collar and cuffs. He wears a plumed cap of black velvet and stands in a relaxed and elegant pose, gazing to his right as does his dog, as if someone is drawing their attention. Van Dyck deftly indicates the young Prince's lineage with a symbolic orange tree at the left, while behind hangs a rich tapestry, rendered in flickering brushstrokes, and embroidered with the arms and lion of the House of Nassau.