Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641)
Ernestine Yolande, Countess of Nassau-Siegen, Seated, with Her Son, Johann Franz Desideratus
Black chalk, heightened with white chalk, on blue paper
The British Museum, London
Ernestine Yolande, Countess of Nassau-Siegen, was the daughter of Lamoral, Prince of Ligne. As with his study of the seated count, Van Dyck made this sketch in preparation for a massive family portrait. In the final painting, the countess cradles a lapdog, a symbol of marital fidelity. This attribute, however, is absent from the sketch, which focuses on the folds and highlights of the countess’s gown. Once he had finished drawing the dress, Van Dyck overlaid it with rough indications of her young son.