Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2008.255
People
Nicolaes Maes, Dutch (Dordrecht 1634 - 1693 Amsterdam)
Title
The Valkhof, Nijmegen, in an Imaginary Landscape
Other Titles
Former Title: Landscape with a Blasted Tree and a Cliff
Classification
Drawings
Work Type
drawing
Date
17th century
Culture
Dutch
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/199371
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Brown ink and brown and pale brown-gray wash, and touches of white opaque watercolor over traces of black chalk, on cream antique laid paper, framing line in brown ink
Dimensions
25.3 x 20.7 cm (9 15/16 x 8 1/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: upper left, graphite, erased: [illegible]
  • inscription: verso, upper left, graphite: 3
  • watermark: none
  • collector's mark: verso, lower right, blue ink stamp: L. 3306 (Maida and George Abrams)
Provenance
[Paul Brandt, Amsterdam, 3 December 1984, lot 1259A], sold; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston (L. 3306, verso, lower right); The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 2008.255.
Published Text
Catalogue
Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: The Complete Collection Online
Authors
Multiple authors
Publisher
Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2017–)

Entry by William W. Robinson, completed May 13, 2019:

Nicolaes Maes ranks among the most outstanding Dutch painters of domestic scenes and portraits. A native of Dordrecht, he studied with Rembrandt in Amsterdam in the late 1640s and early 1650s, returning to his hometown by the end of 1653. Until about 1660, he specialized in pictures of household life, portraits, and biblical subjects. After 1660, Maes devoted himself exclusively to portraiture. His varied oeuvre of drawings—more than one hundred survive—all date from this period in Dordrecht. In 1673, he moved to Amsterdam, where he attracted a larger and wealthier clientele than the patrons he served in Dordrecht.

No landscape paintings by Maes have survived, although one was recorded in a Delft estate in 1663.1 All that remains of Maes’s achievement as a landscapist is a group of about ten drawings, which are attributed to him because they are similar in technique to a cursory sketch on the verso of a study for his painting Christ Blessing Little Children.2 In addition to the present work, the Harvard Art Museums own a second landscape drawing by Maes, a view of Dordrecht.3

The Valkhof was a historic medieval fortress on the Waal River in Nijmegen. Two studies by Maes, with inscriptions in his hand that identify the site, attest that he visited the city and its famous castle. A sketch in a European private collection shows part of the castle complex with the adjacent Belvedere tower and Hoenderpoort gate (Fig. 1).4 Maes referred to this study, or one very like it that has not survived, when composing Harvard’s The Valkhof, Nijmegen, in an Imaginary Landscape. Here, behind the tree that dominates the foreground, architectural elements of the Valkhof appear in an invented setting in which towering cliffs rise behind the fortress. The handling of the Harvard landscape is particularly close to that of a drawing in Berlin, Belvedere and Kalverbos in Nijmegen, which Werner Sumowski convincingly assigned to Maes.5 Like all of Maes’s landscape drawings, the Harvard work and the related studies of Nijmegen probably date from the 1650s.6

1 William W. Robinson, “Landscape Drawings by Nicolaes Maes,” Kroniek van het Rembrandthuis (2012): 43.

2 Werner Sumowski, Drawings of the Rembrandt School, 10 vols. (New York: Abaris Books, 1979–92), vol. 8, no. 1763, pp. 3962–63; nos. 1899x–1902x, pp. 4246–55. William W. Robinson, “Landscape Drawings,” pp. 42–47. William W. Robinson with Susan Anderson, Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Art Museums, 2016), cat. 52, pp. 182–84; p. 351, under cat. 52, n. 11. Other landscapes attributed to Maes by Sumowski (Sumowski, Drawings of the Rembrandt School, vol. 8, no. 1903x, pp. 4256–57; no. 1956ax, pp. 4368–69) are, in my opinion, by other hands. William W. Robinson, “Landscape Drawings,” p. 43, n. 4.

3 View of Dordrecht, brown ink, brown wash, and touches of white opaque watercolor, 12.3 × 25.7 cm, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard Art Museums, 1979.210. Robinson and Anderson, Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt, cat. 52, pp. 182–84.

4 Robinson, “Landscape Drawings,” pp. 43–46, repr. Fig. 4. The drawing is inscribed by the artist: Belvedere met t hof tot Nimwegen. For a close view of the Belvedere tower and the Hoenderpoort gate by Lamber Doomer, see Sumowski, Drawings of the Rembrandt School, vol. 2, no. 397, pp. 852–53.

5 Sumowski, Drawings of the Rembrandt School, vol. 8, no. 1899ax, pp. 4248–49. Robinson, “Landscape Drawings,” pp. 42–43, 46, repr. Fig. 1, p. 42.

6 Robinson, “Landscape Drawings,” p. 43.

Figures
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Accession Year
2008
Object Number
2008.255
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.
Publication History

Frederik J. Duparc, "[Review] Collectie Abrams in Rijksprentenkabinet", Tableau (1991), vol. 13, no. 5, pp. 40-42, p. 41

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. 60, pp. 138-139, 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. 27, pp. 92-3, repr.

Gregory Rubinstein, "[Review] Rembrandt Drawings", The Burlington Magazine (January 2012), vol. 154, no. 1306, pp. 65-66, p. 66

William W. Robinson, "Landscape Drawings by Nicolaes Maes", Kroniek van het Rembrandthuis (2012), pp. 42-7, pp. 46-7, repr. fig. 5

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), p. 351, under no. 52, note 11

Exhibition History

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

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