Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1999.136
People
Willem Drost, Dutch (Germany(?) 1633 - 1659 Venice)
Title
Eliezer and Rebecca at the Well
Classification
Drawings
Work Type
drawing
Date
c. 1650-1655
Culture
Dutch
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/198736
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Brown ink, brown wash and white opaque watercolor on cream antique laid paper, framing lines in brown ink and graphite at right, some ruled, and in black chalk at bottom
Dimensions
17 x 23.6 cm (6 11/16 x 9 5/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: verso, upper left, graphite: 33 [corrected to] 31 / P 19 x 12 1/2 LANDSCAPE
  • inscription: verso, right center, graphite: 3
  • inscription: verso, lower left, graphite: b.ab.f [or fn? or fr?]
  • inscription: verso, lower right, graphite: D24335
  • collector's mark: lower right, black or blue ink stamp: [illegible]
  • collector's mark: verso, lower left, stamp: L. 550 (Gregoire Stroganoff)
  • collector's mark: verso, lower center, brown ink: L. 538a (Carlos Gaa)
  • collector's mark: verso, lower center, brown ink stamp: L. 873b (E. J. Otto)
  • watermark: Paschal Lamb with MP and crossed flags below; identical to Hinterding 2006, vol. 2, pp. 167 and 406, D.a.a (B. 275 i[5]), c. 1655, plate signed and dated 1655; impression in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 29.107.30); related to Heawood 2842 (Schieland, 1645)
  • collector's mark: verso, lower center, blue ink stamp: L. 3306 (Maida and George Abrams)
Provenance
Unidentified collector (illegible fragment of blue or black stamp, lower right). Adolph von Beckerath, Berlin. Count Gregori Sergeievitch Stroganoff, Rome (L. 550, verso, lower left). [C. G. Boerner, Leipzig.] Dr. C. Gaa, Mannheim (L. 538a, verso, lower center), sold; [C. G. Boerner, Leipzig, 9 May 1930, lot 55 (as Ferdinand Bol)]. [C. G. Boerner, Leipzig, 19 June 1937, lot 379 (as Rembrandt School)]. [C. G. Boerner, Leipzig, 28 April 1939, lot 342, repr. pl. 33 (as Circle of Rembrandt)]. Ernst Jürgen Otto, Celle (L. 873b, verso, lower center), sold; to [P. & D. Colnaghi & Co. Ltd., London, 1960], sold; to [Thomas Agnew & Sons Ltd., London], sold; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston, 1989 (L. 3306, verso, lower center). The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1999.136.

Published Text
Catalogue
Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums
Authors
William W. Robinson and Susan Anderson
Publisher
Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2016)

Catalogue entry no. 27 by William W. Robinson:

The biblical Eliezer traveled to the birthplace of his master, Abraham, to find a wife from among kinsmen for the patriarch’s son Isaac. Stopping at a well where the young women came to fetch water, Eliezer asked God to reveal Isaac’s bride to him: “when the virgin cometh forth to draw water, and I say to her, ‘Give me, I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher to drink;’ And she say to me, ‘Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy camels:’ let the same be the woman whom the Lord hath appointed out for my master’s son” (Genesis 24:43–44). No sooner had Eliezer finished this supplication than Rebecca, granddaughter of Abraham’s brother Nahor, approached the well, and the conversation envisioned in his prayer ensued. In this drawing, Eliezer rests the pitcher on his thigh and exchanges glances—and perhaps words—with Rebecca. She wears a bern, a flat, broad-brimmed hat worn by Roma women in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Because of the presumed Egyptian origins of the Roma, artists in Rembrandt’s circle sometimes outfitted women from Old Testament narratives with this headgear.1

A pupil of Rembrandt around 1650, Willem Drost painted portraits, head studies, and biblical scenes in his teacher’s style during his first years as an independent artist.2 By 1655, Drost moved to Venice, where he adopted the tenebrist manner practiced by Giovanni Battista Langetti and Johann Carl Loth.3 He died in 1659 at the age of twenty-five.

The pen work of the figures in the Harvard composition resembles the technique of Drost’s Ruth and Naomi (Fig. 1), while the handling of the landscape recalls the rendering of foliage and rocky setting in another of the artist’s drawings, Noli me Tangere. These two sketches relate directly to paintings by Drost and thus provide the basis for attributing the considerable oeuvre of drawings now assigned to him.4 Characteristic traits of his draftsmanship are the large scale of the figures; broadly spaced diagonal hatchings; distinctive renderings of hands, feet, faces, and elements such as the tufts of foliage at the left; and smudging of the ink on the front of the wall. While working on the Harvard sketch, he covered Eliezer’s awkwardly foreshortened right foot with white opaque watercolor and, with emphatic pen strokes, strengthened the contours of Eliezer’s legs and extended Rebecca’s left hand. While many of Drost’s drawings represent biblical subjects, they also include studies of single figures, genre scenes, and a landscape.5 Eliezer and Rebecca at the Well, like all of the artist’s Rembrandtesque works, dates from the first half of the 1650s.6 The watermark in the paper is identical to that in an impression of Rembrandt’s 1655 etching Pieter Haringh (often called “Young Haringh”) and nearly identical to those in another impression of the same print and a drawing by Drost, Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery.7

When sketching narrative scenes from the Bible and other canonical literary sources, Rembrandt’s students not only consulted the text but also mined the collections kept in his workshop, which included pictures and drawings by the master and former pupils.8 Drost has here adapted parts of his composition from a painting of Eliezer and Rebecca by an unidentified Rembrandt student or follower and bases his figure of Eliezer on a drawing of the 1640s attributed to Ferdinand Bol (Fig. 2).9 He improves upon his models by eliminating extraneous details and concentrating on the solemn communication between the two protagonists, whose fateful meeting, as Rebecca’s father and brother understand, “proceedeth from the Lord” (Genesis 24:50).

Notes

1 John Walsh, “The Earliest Dated Painting by Nicolaes Maes,” The Metropolitan Museum Journal, vol. 6 (1972): 105–14, pp. 111–12.

2 M. D. Henkel, Tekeningen van Rembrandt en zijn school: Catalogus van de Nederlandse tekeningen in het Rijksmuseum te Amsterdam, vol. 1, 2nd ed. (The Hague, 1943), under cat. 89, pp. 44–45. For Drost’s Dutch works, see Jonathan Bikker, Willem Drost (1633–1659): A Rembrandt Pupil in Amsterdam and Venice (New Haven, Connecticut, and London, 2005), cats. 1–24, pp. 7–35 and 50–102.

3 Bikker, cats. 25–38, pp. 37–47 and 104–24.

4 Willem Drost, Ruth and Naomi (Fig. 1). Brown ink, white opaque watercolor. 187 × 235 mm. Bremen, Kunsthalle, 54/437. Werner Sumowski, Drawings of the Rembrandt School (New York, 1979), vol. 3, cat. 546; Anne Röver-Kann, Rembrandt, oder nicht? Zeichnungen von Rembrandt und seinem kreis aus den Hamburger und Bremer Kupferstichkabinetten (Bremen: Kunsthalle Bremen, 2000), cat. 10, pp. 44–45; Bikker, under cat. 1, pp. 51–54. For the Noli me Tangere, see Sumowski, vol. 3, cat. 547x; Bikker, under cat. 5, pp. 61–65; Holm Bevers in Holm Bevers, Lee Hendrix, William W. Robinson, and Peter Schatborn, Drawings by Rembrandt and His Pupils: Telling the Difference (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2009), under cat. 35, p. 209. For other drawings attributed to Drost, see Sumowski, vol. 3, cats. 546–569xx; Peter Schatborn, “Tekeningen van Rembrandts Leerlingen,” Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum, vol. 33 (1985): 93–109, pp. 101–3; Holm Bevers, Rembrandt: Die Zeichnungen im Berliner Kupferstichkabinett; Kritischer Katalog (Berlin: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, 2006), pp. 208–10; Holm Bevers in Bevers et al., cats. 33–35, pp. 196–209.

5 Sumowski, vol. 3, cats. 546–569xx; Schatborn, pp. 101–3; Holm Bevers in Bevers et al., cat. 35.2, pp. 206–9.

6 Sumowski, vol. 3, cat. 554x, and under cat. 546; Bikker, under cat. 1, pp. 51–54, and under cat. 5, pp. 63–65.

7 The Paschal Lamb watermark in an impression of Rembrandt’s etching Pieter Haringh in the Metropolitan Museum of Art is identical to that in the Harvard drawing; see watermark description under “Marks.” A nearly identical Paschal Lamb watermark (Eric Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher: The Practice of Production and Distribution, Studies in Prints and Printmaking 6, Ouderkerk aan den IJsel, Netherlands, 2006, vol. 2, p. 167, D.a.b.), occurs in another impression of the same etching and, as noted by Hinterding, in the drawing Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery in Rotterdam; Jeroen Giltaij, Drawings by Rembrandt and His School in the Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, vol. 2. (Rotterdam, 1988), no. 154, pp. 282–83, as Anonymous, Rembrandt School. Albert Elen in Rembrandt in Rotterdam: Tekeningen van Rembrandt en zijn kring in het Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen=Rembrandt in Rotterdam: Drawings of Rembrandt and His Circle in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, 2005), cat. 52, n.p., as “Willem Drost(?).” As Peter Schatborn noted in Emmanuelle Brugerolles, Mària van Berge‑Gerbaud and Peter Schatborn, Rembrandt et son entourage (Paris: École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts; Ajaccio, France: Palais Fesch-Musée des Beaux-Arts, 2012), under cat. 38, pp. 128–30, repr. fig. 1, the Rotterdam study is attributable to Drost, as its technique is virtually identical to that of works such as Ruth and Naomi (see n. 4 above) and The Angel Departing from the Family of Tobit, Bevers et al., cat. 33.2, pp. 200–201, repr., p. 199. The watermark in Drost’s drawing Noli me Tangere (see n. 4) is also a Paschal Lamb, but not further specified by Jan Garff in Tegninger af Rembrandt og andre hollandske kunstnere fra det 17. Ârhundrede [arhundrede] i Den Kongelige Kobberstiksamling (Copenhagen: Statens Museum for Kunst, 1996), cat. 12, p. 39.

8 Holm Bevers in Bevers et al., pp. 19–22. Bevers notes (p. 20) that former pupils must have had access to Rembrandt’s collections and might have returned to his workshop to draw with him after they were already independent masters.

9 The painting was published by Werner Sumowski, Gemälde der Rembrandt‑Schüler in vier Bänden (Landau, Germany, 1983), vol. 4, cat. 1959, pp. 2057 and 3026, repr. fig. 1959. In both the painting and the Harvard drawing, Rebecca wears a wide, flat bern and stands with one arm lowered and the other drawn across her waist; the trunk of a large tree rises at the left, the wall on which Eliezer leans appears in the same location, and the contour of the distant hill descends from left to right. Sumowski dated the picture around 1650 but noted that its composition was based on that of a drawing of the early 1640s (now in the Fondation Custodia, Frits Lugt Collection, Paris) that Peter Schatborn has attributed to Carel Fabritius; Peter Schatborn, Rembrandt and His Circle: Drawings in the Frits Lugt Collection (Bussum, Netherlands, 2010), vol. 1, cat. 77, pp. 199–202, repr. vol. 2, p. 91, fig. 77. The source for Drost’s figure of Eliezer was evidently a drawing in the Albertina that portrays the servant resting the pitcher on his leg and looking up at the prospective bride (see Fig. 2); Eliezer and Rebecca at the Well, brown ink with brown and gray wash, 180 × 292 mm, Vienna, Albertina, 8768; Sumowski (1979), vol. 1, cat. 261x, p. 546, as attributed to Bol and dated to the second half of the 1640s.

Figures
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Accession Year
1999
Object Number
1999.136
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
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Publication History

Handzeichnungen alter Meister des XV. bis XVIII. Jahrhunderts. Liste XXXVII., auct. cat. (Leipzig, 1918), no. 33, p. 11, repr. p. 10 (as Ferdinand Bol)

C. E. Kohne, "Studien zur Graphik von Ferdinand Bol und Jan Lievens" (Thesis, University of Bonn?, 1932), Unpublished, p. 34 (as Ferdinand Bol)

M.D. Henkel, Tekeningen van Rembrandt en zijn school, Catalogus van de Nederlandse tekeningen in het Rijksmuseum te Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam (The Hague, Netherlands, 1943), under cat. no. 89, pp. 44-45

Exhibition of Old Master Drawings, auct. cat., P. & D. Colnaghi & Co. Ltd. (London, England, 1960), cat. no. 31, repr. pl. III (as School of Rembrandt)

Werner Sumowski, Drawings of the Rembrandt School, ed. Walter Strauss, Abaris Books (New York, NY, 1979), vol 3, cat. no. 554x, repr.

William W. Robinson, Seventeenth-Century Dutch Drawings: A Selection from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, exh. cat., H. O. Zimman, Inc. (Lynn, MA, 1991), cat. no. 47, pp. 112-3, repr.

George S. Keyes, "[Review] Seventeenth-Century Dutch Drawings. A Selection from the Maida and George Abrams Collection", Master Drawings (Winter 1992), vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 443-448, p. 448

Peter C. Sutton and William W. Robinson, Drawings by Rembrandt, his Students and Circle from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, exh. cat., Bruce Museum and Yale University Press (U.S.) (New Haven and London, 2011), cat. no. 40, pp. 29 and 118-9, repr.

Ger Luijten, Peter Schatborn, and Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., Drawings for Paintings in the Age of Rembrandt, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art and Skira (Washington, DC, 2016), p. 36, repr. p. 37 as fig. 6

William W. Robinson and Susan Anderson, Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2016), p. 20; cat. no. 27, pp. 107-109, repr. p. 108; watermark p. 376

Exhibition History

Exhibition of Old Master Drawings, P. & D. Colnaghi & Co. Ltd., London, 04/28/1960 - 05/28/1960

Seventeenth-Century Dutch Drawings: A Selection from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 02/23/1991 - 04/18/1991; Albertina Gallery, Vienna, 05/16/1991 - 06/30/1991; Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, 01/22/1992 - 04/22/1992; Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 10/10/1992 - 12/06/1992

Drawings by Rembrandt, his Students and Circle from the Collection of Maida and George Abrams, Bruce Museum, Greenwich, 09/24/2011 - 01/08/2012; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, 04/15/2012 - 07/08/2012

Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/21/2016 - 08/14/2016

Subjects and Contexts

Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu