Maida and George Abrams Collection, Boston Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

The fluency, verve, and control with which Goltzius wielded his pen is exquisitely manifest in this signed and dated study. While the architectural elements are composed of regular parallel hatches, the seated woman is rendered using dense curving strokes, which skillfully describe the undulating folds of her dress. Her twisting torso and refined hand gestures further add to the sense of overt elegance that this drawing exudes. Although the specific subject of the composition remains unidentified, the overgrown ancient structures in the background and the attributes scattered in the foreground—a pen case, an inkwell, and an open book—recall contemporary representations of Clio, the Muse of History. Produced not long after Goltzius returned to Haarlem from his yearlong stay in Italy, this drawing also records the artist’s productive engagement with the Venetian artistic tradition, most notably the broad and fluid manner encountered in woodcuts and drawings by Titian.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Hendrick Goltzius, Dutch (Mühlbracht 1558 - 1617 Haarlem, Netherlands)
Seated Woman
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Allegorical Female Figure
Former Title: An Allegory of Learning
Work Type
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Brown and black ink and white opaque watercolor on blue paper
21.2 x 12.8 cm (8 3/8 x 5 1/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: center left, brown ink: HG (in ligature)
  • inscription: lower left, brown ink: 1596
  • inscription: verso, upper left, brown ink: stley[?]
  • inscription: verso, lower right, graphite: Le Parmesan / 4
  • watermark: None
  • collector's mark: lower left, blue stamp: CICERI (Pierre-Luc Charles Cicéri or Eugène Cicéri, Lugt 446)
  • collector's mark: lower center, black ink stamp: CHS. (Charles Saunier, Lugt 567a)
  • collector's mark: verso, bottom center, blue ink: M/G [inside of] A [Lugt 3306, mark of Maida and George Abrams]
Pierre-Luc Charles Cicéri or Eugène Cicéri, Paris (Lugt 446). Charles Saunier (1865-1941), Paris and Lozère sur Yvette (Lugt 567a). [1] J. Hohl-Schmuziger, Basel. Reinhold D. Hohl (1929-2014), Basel, by 1961. [2] Sold [through Christie's, New York, January 30, 1997, lot 222]. Sold [through Sotheby's, Amsterdam, November 9, 1999, lot 43]. [Derek Johns, Ltd., London], sold; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston (Lugt 3306), 2000, gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2020

[1] According to Lugt, the drawings from Saunier's collection were dispersed after his death in 1941 and there was no public sale.

[2] Hohl is listed as the owner in "Die Zeichnungen von Hendrick Goltzius" (1961)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Gift of George Abrams in honor of Gerdien Verschoor, Director of CODART (2005-2019)
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Emil Karel Josef Reznicek, Die Zeichnungen von Hendrick Goltzius, Haentjens Dekker & Gumbert (Utrecht, The Netherlands, 1961), vol. 1, pp. 304-5, cat. no. 164, vol. 2, fig. no. 256

Emil Karel Josef Reznicek, "Drawings by Hendrick Goltzius, Thirty Years Later: Supplement to the 1961...", Master Drawings (Autumn 1993), vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 215-278, p. 266, under K430a

Old Master Drawings, auct. cat., Christie's, New York (New York, January 30, 1997), pp. 250-251, lot 222, repr. p. 251

William W. Robinson, Bruegel to Rembrandt: Dutch and Flemish Drawings from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2002), pp. 70-71, cat. no. 23, repr. p. 71

Walter Melion, The Meditative Art: Studies in the Northern Devotional Print, 1550-1625 (Philadelphia, PA, 2009), p. 296, repr. as plate 7.6 on p. 311

Exhibition History

Bruegel to Rembrandt: Dutch and Flemish Drawings from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, British Museum, London, 06/13/2002 - 09/22/2002; Institut Néerlandais, Paris, 10/10/2002 - 12/08/2002; Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 03/22/2003 - 07/06/2003

Mirror of Holland: Drawings from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, Part 1, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 11/20/2010 - 03/06/2011

The Art of Drawing in the Early Dutch Golden Age, 1590–1630: Selected Works from the Abrams Collection, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/09/2017 - 01/14/2018

Subjects and Contexts

Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

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