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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Simon de Vlieger, Dutch (Rotterdam 1600/1601 - 1653 Weesp)
Landscape with Trees by a River
Work Type
c. 1645-1653
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Black and white chalk and gray wash on blue antique laid paper, framing line in black ink
26.7 x 44 cm (10 1/2 x 17 5/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: lower left, black chalk: S.D.V
  • inscription: verso, lower left, graphite: S de Vleigher
  • inscription: former mount, lower right, graphite: Z / N4
  • blind stamp: former mount, lower right, blind stamp: P [not in Lugt, unidentified]
  • inscription: former mount, lower right, on piece of adhesive paper, brown ink: 26
  • inscription: former mount, lower right, graphite: 91
  • inscription: verso, lower left, graphite: Schellinx f.
  • inscription: former mount, lower left, graphite: DG [?]
  • inscription: verso, lower left, black chalk [?]: [so
  • watermark: none


Recorded Ownership History
Unidentified Collection (with its mark, blind stamp P, former mount, lower right, not in Lugt). Private Collector, Bordeaux, France, sold; to [Michel-Witold Gierzod, Paris] sold; to Harvard University Art Museums, 1999; Purchase through the generosity of David Giles Carter, Eric Greenleaf, an anonymous donor and the Grenville L. Winthrop Frame Fund, 1999.66.

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. 93 by William W. Robinson:

Simon de Vlieger, like many Dutch artists, led a peripatetic life. He was probably born in Rotterdam and lived there until he was about thirty-four years old, but he later resided in Delft (1634–38), Amsterdam (1638–48), and Weesp (1649–53).1 Best known for his seascapes, especially pictures of shipping on calm waters that inspired the majestic “parade marines” of Jan van de Cappelle and Willem van de Velde the Younger, De Vlieger was also an outstanding landscape painter and innovative printmaker. His drawings address a far more diverse range of subjects than his paintings: in addition to beaches and marines, they represent animals, ruins, townscapes, river views, forests, villages, farms, and figural compositions, including a few historical scenes.2 Van de Cappelle, the seascape painter who emulated De Vlieger’s work, owned more than 1,300 of his sketches and studies, many of which have been lost or remain unidentified.3

Landscape with Trees by a River belongs to the most numerous and familiar group of De Vlieger’s surviving drawings, which consists of woodland scenes with towering trees, isolated roads, and quiet pools and streams.4 Broadly executed with chalk and wash on blue or white paper, these works probably date from the later 1640s and early 1650s.5 Some, including the Harvard sheet, were signed and presumably intended for sale. De Vlieger worked on sheets of various formats, but many are surprisingly large, compared to finished landscapes by draftsmen such as Jan van Goyen or Pieter de Molijn (1965.204, 2011.514). The grandly structured compositions and monumentally scaled trees of De Vlieger’s drawings bear comparison with his etchings and rare paintings of forest scenes.6

An old annotation on the verso of the sheet, Schellinx f. — “Schellinx f[ecit],” i.e., made it—appears to be an erroneous attribution to the landscapist Willem Schellinks (1627–1678) or his brother, Daniel (1627–1701). If so, the author of the inscription overlooked De Vlieger’s autograph monogram on the recto. However, it is possible that the person who annotated the sheet mistook an early owner of the drawing for its draftsman. In a will of 1664, Daniel Schellinks and his wife recorded their intention to bequeath to Willem Schellinks “a book with drawings by the late Simon de Vlieger.”7 Perhaps the Harvard landscape belonged to that album, and a later collector was misled by some documentation of its provenance, now lost, into thinking that “Schellinx” was the artist.8


1 Jan Kelch, “Studien zu Simon de Vlieger als Marinemaler,” Ph.D. diss., University of Berlin (Berlin, 1971), pp. 1–4.

2 George S. Keyes, “Vlieger, Simon de,” in Jane Turner, ed., The Dictionary of Art (New York, 1996), vol. 32, pp. 671–73; Christiaan P. van Eeghen, “Simon de Vlieger as a Draftsman, I: The Pen Drawings,” Master Drawings, vol. 44, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 3–47, and Christiaan P. van Eeghen, “Simon de Vlieger as a Draftsman, II: Chalk Drawings Other than Pure Landscapes,” Master Drawings, vol. 49, no. 2 (Summer 2011): 179–221.

3 Van Eeghen (2011), pp. 212–17; M. Russell, Jan van de Cappelle, 1624/6–1679 (Leigh-On-Sea, UK, 1975), pp. 55–56; Abraham Bredius, “De schilder Jan van de Cappelle,” Oud Holland, vol. 10 (1892): 24–40 and 133–36, pp. 38–39.

4 Marijn Schapelhouman and Peter Schatborn, Dutch Drawings of the Seventeenth Century in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam: Artists Born between 1580 and 1600; Catalogue of Dutch and Flemish drawings in the Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Vol. 6. (Amsterdam and London, 1998), vol. 1, under cat. 407, p. 187, and under cat. 412, p. 188. Michiel C. Plomp, The Dutch Drawings in the Teylers Museum (Ghent and Doornspijk, 1997), under cat. 513, p. 432.

5 Schapelhouman and Schatborn, vol. 1, under cat. 407, p. 187, noted that none of these drawings are dated and their chronology is far from clear. Van Eeghen (2006), pp. 3–5 and 43, proposes that the woodland landscapes on blue paper date from the last years of De Vlieger’s career.

6 Wolfgang Stechow, Dutch Landscape Painting of the Seventeenth Century (London, 1966), pp. 69–70 and figs. 132 and 133.

7 “boeck met teyckeninghen van Wijlen Simon de Vlieger.” Van Eeghen (2011), p. 214; A. D. de Vries, “Willem Schellinks: Schilder, teekenaar, etser, dichter,” Oud Holland, vol. 1 (1883): 150–63, p. 153.

8 A landscape by De Vlieger in Hamburg, which is executed in the same media on blue paper, is inscribed Schellinks in graphite on its verso; Annemarie Stefes, Niederländische Zeichnungen 1450–1850: Kupferstichkabinett der Hamburger Kunsthalle (Cologne, 2011), vol. 2, cat. 1119, p. 585.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Purchase through the generosity of David Giles Carter, Eric Greenleaf, an anonymous donor and the Grenville L. Winthrop Frame Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • William W. Robinson and Susan Anderson, Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums, Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2016), cat. no. 93, pp. 307-308, repr. p. 308
  • Joanna Sheers Seidenstein and Susan Anderson, ed., Crossroads: Drawing the Dutch Landscape, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, 2022), pp. 120, 233, repr. p. 120 as fig. K

Exhibition History

Subjects and Contexts

  • Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

Verification Level

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