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

Dutch seventeenth-century drawings in the Herman Collection include works in styles and with subjects familiar from the prolific production of images in the Dutch Republic. These include van Goyen’s characteristic chalk sketch of cows, most likely made on the spot in the Dutch countryside. The modest subject and simple directness of drawings like this provided the motifs we see in van Goyen’s paintings with their radically innovative realism. Dutch and Flemish drawings in the Landscape and Seascape section of this exhibition provide additional context for van Goyen’s work.

Berchem’s drawing of figures on the ice belongs to another class of Dutch images known as daily-life genre subjects, in this case figures that the artist incorporated into one of his finished landscapes. Buytewech’s chalk study of a young dandy leaning nonchalantly against an invisible support was used for one of his innovative genre scenes known as "merry companies," depicting fashionable young people eating, drinking, and making music. Bramer’s wiry pen study of men at a table distinctly recalls genre paintings executed by Dutch artists in Rome, and even suggests the work of Caravaggio himself. The Italian scene also inspired Berchem’s Shepherd on a Donkey, a Shepherdess Next to Him, a picturesque subject typical of the artist, which a copyist reproduced in our drawing with great sympathy.

The Four Disgracers is based on a completely different strain of Dutch art, known as Dutch Late Mannerism. Copying four engravings by Goltzius, this unidentified draftsman combined the four falling figures in their convoluted poses into a single, pinwheel-like composition, clearly matching his artifice against the virtuosity of Goltzius’ originals.

Artists, Titles, and Accession Numbers

Anonymous (after Hendrick Goltzius, after Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem), The Four Disgracers: Icarus, Phaeton, Tantalus, and Ixion,
2007.15.40 >

Anonymous (after Jan de Visscher, after Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem), Shepherd on a Donkey, a Shepherdess Next to Him, 2007.15.15 >

Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem, Winter Scene on a Frozen Canal, 2007.15.6 >

Leonard Bramer, Three Men Around a Table, 2007.15.20 >

Willem Pietersz. Buytewech, Standing Cavalier, 2006.11.11 >

Jan van Goyen, Landscape with Cows, 2007.15.41 >

Attributed to Joris van der Haagen, View of a Hill Town and Travelers on a Road, 2007.15.78 >


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