Traces of the Hand

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Traces of the Hand: Master Drawings from the Collection of Frederick and Lucy S. Herman

The Dutch Golden Age

Attributed to Joris van der Haagen
Dutch, c. 1615–1669
View of a Hill Town and Travelers on a Road, n.d.
Pen and black ink with wash and white body color on blue paper
13 7/8 x 19 3/16 in, 35.24 x 48.74 cm (sheet)
Watermark: Maltese cross or wreath with handle
Provenance: Acquired from Herbert E. Feist, New York, 1977
Gift of The Frederick and Lucy S. Herman Foundation, 2007.15.78

The painter and draftsman Joris van der Haagen was most likely born either in Arnhem, where he is first documented as working, or Dordrecht, where his father Abraham was active as a painter until 1613. Like most children coming from an artisanal background, Joris probably received his early training from his father. Upon his father’s death in 1639, the young artist moved to The Hague, where he joined the Guild of St. Luke four years later.

Though previously attributed to Jan van der Meer II (1656–1705), this drawing finds few parallels with the works of this Haarlem-based artist active at the end of the seventeenth century. An attribution to van der Haagen or an artist in his circle is proposed here instead. Van der Haagen’s drawings in ink and wash with white highlights on blue paper were highly regarded by his contemporaries and collectors of the eighteenth century alike. In the third volume of his Groote Schouburgh, a text devoted to the lives of Netherlandish painters published in 1721, Arnold Houbraken wrote that the artist "spent most of his time on the depiction of landscapes around Kleef and other areas, which he executed with great spirit in pen and brush, on white and blue paper."1

While the choice of medium is wholly typical of van der Haagen, the Italianate subject matter does not accord with either Houbraken’s commentary or any known drawings by the artist. However, van der Haagen is known to have collaborated with Nicolaes Berchem, making such subject matter not entirely implausible within his work. Indeed, the figures on horseback at the water’s edge are entirely in the spirit of Berchem’s work. The liberal use of wash, so evident in the execution of the rock at the lower left, finds some parallels in van der Haagen’s works, such as the left foreground of his View of Lichtenberg Castle, near Maastricht.2 However, the drawing is most similar in style to a work in brown ink and brown and grey wash formerly in the collection of Einar Perman where it was given to Jan van der Meer II but is now ascribed to an anonymous Dutch artist active around 1700.3 Further research may conclusively determine the draftsman responsible for this fine sheet from the Herman collection. Either van der Haagen himself or an artist in his circle seems to provide the most fruitful avenue for such research.

Marika Kielland
Libby Merrill
John Hawley

 

1. "Deze heft wel zyn meesten tyd doorgebragt, met het afteekenen van fraaije Landgezichten omtrent Kleef, en elders, die hy wonder geestig, met de teekenpen en 't penceel, op wit en blaau papier behandelt heft." Arnold Houbraken, De Groote Schouburgh der Nederlantsche Konstschilders en Schilderessen, vol. 3, The Hague, 1753, 203.

2. See Michiel Plomp, The Dutch Drawings in the Teyler Museum, vol. 2, Doornspijk, 1997, no. 176; see also nos. 178 and 179. The second of these was also executed using white chalk highlighting.

3. See Oude tekeningen uit de Nederlanden: Verzameling Prof. E. Perman, Stockholm, Laren: Singer Museum, 1962, no. 68.

 

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