- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
Bernard van Orley, Netherlandish (Brussels, Belgium c. 1491/92 - 1542 Brussels, Belgium)
- Other Titles
- Alternate Title: Descent of the Holy Spirit
- Work Type
- c. 1520-30
- Persistent Link
- Physical Descriptions
- Charcoal, black chalk, stumped, and gray wash, center line, framing lines and indications of saddle bars and T-bar in red chalk on six joined sheets of antique laid paper, mounted on Japanese paper; scattered touches of graphite restoration
- 89.7 x 60.1 cm (35 5/16 x 23 11/16 in.)
- Inscriptions and Marks
- inscription: lower right, brown ink : XX... [? The tail of a third digit, lost with the corner of the sheet, is visible.]
Clover with undecipherable monogram; variant of Briquet 9890 (Utrecht, 1523, but uncertain provenance)
- Perhaps Van Parijs, Brussels, by descent; to his heirs, sold; [Muller, Amsterdam, 11-12 January 1878, within lot 322.] Franck, Brussels, sold; via Pascal Ruys Raquez; to André Leysen, Antwerp, sold; [Sotheby's, New York, 25 January 2002, lot 18, repr.], bought in and subsequently sold; to Harvard University Art Museums; Marian H. Phinney Fund, Agnes Mongan Purchase Fund, William C. Heilman Fund and through the generosity of David Rust, Howard Lepow, an anonymous donor, the Weingart Foundation and the DBH Foundation, 2002.22.
- Published Text
- Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums
- William W. Robinson and Susan Anderson
- Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2016)
Catalogue entry no. 61 by William W. Robinson:
Pentecost is one of thirteen surviving cartoons for a lost or unidentified cycle of stained-glass windows devoted to scenes from Christ’s Passion.2 Although their dimensions vary—in height from 920 to 762 mm, and in width from 636 to 470 mm—the consistency of their technique, format, and style affirm that these designs belong to a single series. Moreover, Roman numerals are inscribed by the same hand in brown ink on eight of the cartoons, including this one.3 In accordance with the conventional narrative order of Passion cycles, in which Pentecost appears near the end, the highest of these numbers is on the Harvard work. It now reads as XX, but the tail of a third digit is visible, cut off by the loss in the lower right corner, attesting that the project comprised at least twenty-one windows. Numerals on other drawings in the group were also written at the extreme left or right edges of the cartoons and additional digits must have been trimmed away over time, so the numbers visible today appear not to follow the sequence of the biblical text.4
The cartoons’ paper supports consist of two or more sheets, some joined horizontally, some vertically, and some with narrow strips at top, bottom, or sides. Charcoal and/or black chalk are the primary materials used. The draftsman extensively stumped (smudged) the dry black media to create areas of gray tone, within which he indicated highlights by reserves or selective removal of the medium. Scattered touches of gray wash, white chalk, or white opaque watercolor occur in some of the cartoons. All have a ruled vertical center line and ruled single or double horizontal lines in red chalk, which occur in other sixteenth-century cartoons for monumental stained glass, notably those for the Sint-Janskerk, Gouda. These horizontal lines mark the positions of the metal bars that secured the glass within the window frame, the single lines denoting the saddle bars and the double lines the wider T-bars.5 Each design includes the locations of three bars, the lowest set 235–240 mm from the base of the composition and the two higher also placed at intervals of 235–240 mm. The Harvard cartoon is one of four surviving that include indications of a T-bar.6 Finally, in several cartoons, freehand lines in black chalk above the highest bar indicate an arched top to the design. Some also have original framing lines in black or red chalk at the bottom and sides of the compositions, and eight have framing lines in brown ink, added at a later date, which attest that those cartoons share a common provenance.7
The support of the Harvard cartoon consists of six sheets. Three of them bear a nearly identical watermark and must have come from the same paper mill.8 A closely related watermark occurs in the paper of a document from Utrecht dated 1523 and in four drawings by Van Orley in Munich, three of which are dated 1524 in the artist’s hand.9 The Harvard cartoon was executed primarily in charcoal, with black chalk used less extensively. As in the other cartoons, the draftsman employed stumping for tone. The few touches of gray wash were used for linear, not tonal, passages. In contrast to the vertical framing lines in red chalk on the sides of other cartoons, those on the Harvard work follow the outer contours of the design. These irregular framing lines stop at the bottom of the T-bar and do not include the dove of the Holy Spirit and the cloud around it.
As noted above, the windows made from these designs remain unidentified. The cartoon depicting Pilate Washing His Hands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art has been related to a monumental window in the church of Saint Peter at Solre-le-Château (Nord), France,10 but it is doubtful that this glass was painted from the design in New York. The composition in the window (which should be the same size as the cartoon) is at least twice the height and three times the width of the drawing. Additionally, even allowing for the present fragmentary state and imperfect reconstruction of the glass, its composition differs in most details from that of the cartoon.11 The similarities between the two designs are presumably the result of their having been based on a common model, which must have originated before 1532, the date inscribed on the glass at Solre-le-Château.12
Consistent in their materials and technique, the thirteen cartoons are all attributable to a single draftsman. While scholars agree that they were produced in the 1520s in the Brussels workshop of Bernard van Orley, opinions differ as to whether their design and/ or execution were by Van Orley himself or by an assistant or pupil.13 The only securely autograph drawings by Van Orley are studies for tapestries, which he executed in ink, wash, and transparent watercolor.14 While Van Orley’s authorship of the Passion cartoons cannot be definitively proven, their inventive compositions and expert handling attest that they are very likely by the master’s hand.15
1 (This note refers to the provenance.) The Van Parijs sale included eight cartoons whose individual subjects were unspecified. It is possible that those were the eight that have heavy, non-original brown-ink borderlines, which would likely exclude the Harvard work from that sale. (For the list of those eight, see n. 7.) However, a manuscript note in brown ink on the verso of the mount of Christ before Pilate in Berlin reads, “Dessins . . . / Sujets de la Passion / p. cap. 15 / No. 367,” and in graphite or black chalk, “par Bernard van Orley” (see n. 2). This seems to indicate that there was a sale, presumably before that of the Van Parijs collection, in which fifteen cartoons were sold as a single lot.
2 The other twelve are listed below, in the order of the biblical narrative, with their dimensions, inscribed numbers, framing lines, center lines, and lines indicating the specified T-bars and saddle bars (iron supports for the leading and stained glass of the windows). The measurements were made by the author. All the cartoons were executed primarily in charcoal and/or black chalk. Some include touches of gray wash, white chalk, or white opaque watercolor.
Christ Taking Leave of His Mother. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, KdZ 13607. 865 × 485 mm. Two original framing lines in black chalk at left; original framing lines in red chalk at right and bottom; vertical center line in red chalk; double horizontal lines in red chalk indicating T-bar 124 and 134 mm from top of sheet; two single horizontal lines in red chalk indicating saddle bars; freehand framing line(s) at upper left (and right?) indicating arched top; later brown-ink framing line on all sides.
Christ Washing the Feet of the Disciples. Brussels, Musée du Cinquantenaire, 972A. 796 × 576 mm. Inscribed, lower left, in brown ink, IX. Inscribed, by a later hand, lower left, graphite, B v Orley. Original framing line in red chalk at left and bottom; vertical center line in red chalk; three horizontal lines in red chalk indicating saddle bars; later brown-ink framing line on all sides.
The Betrayal of Christ. Paris, Fondation Custodia, Frits Lugt Collection, 1975-T.20. 762 × 524 mm. Vertical center line in red chalk; three horizontal lines in red chalk indicating saddle bars.
Christ before Caiaphas. Brussels-Dilbeek, private collection. 840 × 620 mm. Vertical center line in red chalk; three horizontal lines in red chalk indicating the saddle bars.
Christ before Pilate. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, KdZ 13608. 867 × 636 mm. Inscribed, lower left, brown ink, II (covered with white opaque watercolor). Original partial or complete framing lines in red chalk on all sides; vertical center line; three horizontal lines in red chalk to indicate saddle bars; later brown-ink framing line on all sides.
Christ before Herod. Brussels, Musée du Cinquantenaire, 974A. 864 × 625 mm. Inscribed, lower left, in brown ink, II. Original framing line in red chalk at bottom of sheet; vertical center line in red chalk; three horizontal lines in red chalk to indicate saddle bars. Rounded corner of the design at upper right indicating arched top? Later framing lines in brown ink on all sides.
Pilate Washing His Hands. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002.430. 920 × 615 mm. Inscribed, lower left, brown ink, I (partially covered by brown-ink framing line). Framing lines in black chalk at left and right sides, curved at top to indicate arch; vertical center line in red chalk; three horizontal lines in red chalk to indicate saddle bars, the uppermost marked with an X where it intersects vertical center line; later framing line in brown ink on all sides.
Christ Nailed to the Cross. Paris, École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Mas.2983. 804 × 497 mm. Inscribed, lower left, brown ink, I (covered with white opaque watercolor). Original framing line in red chalk at bottom and right; vertical center line in red chalk; three horizontal lines in red chalk indicating saddle bars.
The Raising of the Cross. Paris, École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Mas.2984. 824 × 470 mm. Original framing line in black chalk at right, partial framing line in black chalk at left; freehand framing lines in black chalk at upper left and right indicating arched top to composition; vertical center line in red chalk; three horizontal framing lines in red chalk indicating saddle bars.
Christ Crucified between Two Thieves. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, KdZ 13609. 875 × 624 mm. Partial original framing lines in red chalk at left and right; vertical center line in red chalk; three horizontal lines in red chalk indicating saddle bars. Later framing line in brown ink on all sides.
The Resurrection of Christ. New Haven, Yale University Art Gallery, 1941.302. 886 × 479 mm. Inscribed, lower right, brown ink, XX. Original framing line in red chalk at left; partial framing line in red chalk at bottom; freehand framing line in black chalk at upper right indicating arched top to composition. Vertical center line in red chalk; double horizontal lines in red chalk indicating T-bar; two single horizontal lines in red chalk indicating saddle bars. Later framing line in brown ink on all sides.
Christ Appearing to His Disciples/Doubting Thomas. Brussels, Musée du Cinquantenaire, 973A. 875 × 595 mm. Inscribed, lower right, brown ink, X. Original partial framing lines in black chalk at left and right, freehand framing lines in black chalk at upper left and right indicating arched top. Vertical center line in red chalk; double horizontal lines in red chalk indicating T-bar; two single horizontal lines in red chalk indicating saddle bars. Later framing line in brown ink at top and sides.
3 The three drawings in Brussels; one in Berlin; one in the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris; and the three single drawings at Yale, Harvard, and Metropolitan Museum of Art, respectively, all bear Roman numerals written in brown ink (see n. 2 above).
4 For example, only the numeral I appears at the far left edge on Christ Nailed to the Cross in the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, and on Pilate Washing His Hands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (see n. 2), but these must have been preceded by other numerals that have since been trimmed away.
5 Zsuzsanna van Ruyven-Zeman, et al., eds., De cartons van de Sint-Janskerk in Gouda/The Cartoons of the Sint Janskerk in Gouda (Delft, 2011), pp. 225–27.
6 The others are Christ Taking Leave of His Mother; The Resurrection of Christ; and Christ Appearing to His Disciples/Doubting Thomas (see also n. 2).
7 Three drawings in Brussels, three in Berlin, and the two single works at Yale and in the Metropolitan Museum of Art all have the same thick borderline in brown ink.
8 My thanks to Susan Anderson and Penley Knipe for their help in identifying and interpreting the watermark evidence.
9 Susan Anderson noted the similarity of this watermark (a variant of Briquet 9890) to those in the drawings by Van Orley in Munich, which are discussed by Holm Bevers in Niederländische Zeichnungen des 16. Jahrhunderts in der Staatlichen Graphischen Sammlung München (Munich: Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München, 1989), cats. 47 and 51–53, pp. 58, 63–65, and 118, where tracings of the four watermarks are reproduced. Bevers’s cats. 51–53 all bear the autograph monogram of Bernard van Orley and the date 1524. My thanks to Stijn Alsteens for confirming that three of the four sheets that make up the support of the cartoon Pilate Washing His Hands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (see n. 2) bear a watermark that is closely related, or identical, to those in the Harvard cartoon.
10 The window consists of two scenes from the Passion—with Ecce Homo above and Pilate Washing His Hands below—and a tympanum, together measuring 6 × 2.5 meters; Louis Grodecki, Jean Taralon, and Françoise Perrot, Les vitraux de Paris, de la région parisienne, de la Picardie, et du Nord-Pas-de-Calais (Paris, 1978), p. 247, bay 8, fig. 134, repr., and pl. 32, repr. Karel Boon (The Netherlandish and German Drawings of the XVth and XVIth Centuries of the Frits Lugt Collection, Paris, 1992, vol. 1, under cat. 156) connected the cartoon now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art with this window. See also Michiel C. Plomp, “Bernaert van Orley, Pilate Washing His Hands,” in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin: Recent Acquisitions; A Selection, 2002–03, vol. 61, no. 2 (Fall 2003): 18.
11 The window has been damaged, heavily restored, reconstructed, and moved around within the church. In its present state, only the figure of Pilate in the window corresponds closely to his counterpart in the cartoon. Comparison of the Metropolitan Museum cartoon’s composition with that of the window shows that a large figure of a bearded man leaning to the left in the foreground of the Ecce Homo window clearly belonged originally to Pilate Washing His Hands and was mistakenly incorporated into the Ecce Homo during a reconstruction.
12 My thanks to Stijn Alsteens for his remarks (in conversation, 19 November 2007) on the relationship of the Metropolitan Museum cartoon with the window at Solre-le-Château.
13 Suzanne Borsch in Suzanne Boorsch, John Marciari, et al., Master Drawings from the Yale University Art Gallery (Sarasota, FL: John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art; Austin, TX: Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art; New Haven, CT: Yale University Art Gallery, 2006), under cat. 4, p. 47.
14 Frits Lugt, Inventaire général des dessins des écoles du Nord: Maîtres des anciens Pays-Bas nés avant 1550 (Musée du Louvre, Cabinet des dessins, Paris, 1968), cats. 178–89, pp. 52–57; Holm Bevers, cats. 47–53, pp. 58–65; Carolyn Logan, “Bernard van Orley, Otto, Count of Nassau, and His Wife, Adelheid van Vianden,” in “Recent Acquisitions, a Selection: 1994–1995,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 53, no. 2 (Fall 1995): 30; Nicholas Turner, European Drawings 4: Catalogue of the Collections (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2001. Available online as PDF (consulted 10 May 2014), cat. 47, pp. 134–36.
15 Here, too, I am grateful to Stijn Alsteens, who attributes the cartoons to Van Orley himself, for his views on the question of their authorship (email to the author, 17 December 2013).
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Marian H. Phinney Fund, Agnes Mongan Purchase Fund, William C. Heilman Fund and through the generosity of David Rust, Howard Lepow, an anonymous donor, the Weingart Foundation and the DBH Foundation
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- European and American Art
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- Publication History
Karel G. Boon, L'Epoque de Lucas de Leyde et Pierre Bruegel: Dessins de Anciens Pay-Bas Collection Frits Lugt, Fondation Custodia (Florence and Paris, 1980-1981), under cat. no. 114, pp. 165-7 (n. 4) (as Descente du Saint-Esprit)
Société Générale de Banque / A.S.B.L. les Amis de Dessin, Dessins du XVe au XVIIIe Siecle dans les collections privées de Belgique, exh. cat., Société Genérale de Banque (Brussels, Belgium, 1983), under cat. no. 10, p. 32 (n. 1)
Renaissance et Maniérisme dans les Ecoles du Nord: Dessins des collections de l'Ecole des Beaux-Arts, exh. cat., Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts (Paris, 1985), under cat. no. 43, p. 92
John Oliver Hand, J. R. Judson, and William W. Robinson, The Age of Bruegel: Netherlandish Drawings in the Sixteenth Century, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art/Cambridge University Press (Washington, D.C. and Cambridge, England, 1986), under cat . no. 92, p. 241 (n. 1)
Karel G. Boon, The Netherlandish and German Drawings of the XVth and XVIth Centuries of the Frits Lugt Collection (Paris, France, 1992), vol. 1, under cat. no. 156, pp. 282 and 284 (n. 7 and 8) (as Descent of the Holy Spirit)
Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums Annual Report 2001-2002 (Cambridge, MA, 2003), pp. 27-28, repr.
Suzanne Boorsch and John Marciari, Master Drawings from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat., Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, CT, 2006), under cat. no. 4, pp. 46-47 (n. 7 and 9)
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. 22; cat. no. 61, pp. 210-212, repr. p. 211; watermark p. 379
- Exhibition History
- Subjects and Contexts
Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings
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