WILLEM VAN DER VLIET
Delft 1584 – 1642
Portrait of a boy, aged 8 years in a red costume together with a dog
Oil on panel 129 x 59 cm.
Signed, dated and inscribed with the age of the sitter upper right: Aeta:8 a.1636/W van der
Jean-Baptiste Eugène de Thiac ( 1806-1892 ) a 1800 note indicates that the present painting was bought more than thirty years before) Estate inventory in 1892: two portraits y Cuyp, one representing William III valued 5.000)
Traditionally attributed to Aelbert Cuyp, this portrait is in fact a highly characteristic work by the Delft painter Willem van der Vliet. Painted in 1636 it is represents a privileged boy in a rich attire in a fancy bright red costume, with a big hat on one hand and holding a hunting dog on a decorative leash in the other. Being an impressive full-length depiction, this shows us that the boy represented here must have come from a prosperous well-to-do family, most probably originating from Delft. Never seemingly having left his hometown Delft, Van der Vliet was the pre-eminent portrait painter of his day and age and the preferred portraitist of the local elite.
The inclusion of the dog may have been intended as an allusion to the training of dogs as a metaphor of the education of children. The combination of the boy being depicted in large full-length, in a discerning red costume trimmed with white lace and together with the dog are also clear references to the wealthy descendence of the boy here. Furthermore his elegant shoes and red pants are richly decorated with red rosettes of cloth and lace, together with the red ostrich feather on his large-brimmed hat .