Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Jan de Bisschop, Dutch (Amsterdam, Netherlands 1628 - 1671 The Hague, Netherlands)
Houses and a Well near Koudekerk
Work Type
Persistent Link
Level 3, Room 3610, University Teaching Gallery
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Physical Descriptions
Brown ink, brown and gray wash, and black chalk on cream antique laid paper, framing line in black ink; a paper inlay 10 mm wide around the edges on the verso
9.5 x 15.8 cm (3 3/4 x 6 1/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: verso, inlaid strip, lower left, red ink: N 3417. [hand of Goll von Frankenstein]
  • collector's mark: verso, lower left, and window and border from former mat adhered to new mat window, lower left, black ink stamp: L. 2811b (C. R. Rudolf)
  • inscription: former mount, graphite: Coll. Goll
  • inscription: fragment of a former mount, blue ink, pen: GOLDSMID. (L. 1962)
  • inscription: former mount, black ink: Bisschoff
  • inscription: verso, inlaid strip, upper left, brown ink: By Kouwkerk
  • inscription: verso, left center, graphite: y/nh
  • collector's mark: verso, lower left, blue ink stamp: L. 1962 (Neville D. Goldsmid)
  • inscription: verso, lower left, on strip adhered to original drawing paper, brown ink: By Coukerck
  • inscription: verso, inlaid strip, upper left, brown ink: 17
  • collector's mark: verso, lower left, blue ink stamp: L. 3306 (Maida and George Abrams)
  • watermark: none
Valerius Röver, Delft (without his mark, L. 2984a-c, but with his inscription and under portfolio no. 17 in his posthumous inventory), by descent; to his widow, Cornelia van der Dussen, Delft, 1761, sold ; to [the dealer Hendrik de Leth, Amsterdam], sold; to Johann Goll van Franckenstein I, Amsterdam, 1761, by descent; to Jonkheer Johann Goll van Franckenstein II, Amsterdam (L. 2987, his numeration, verso), probably by descent; to Pieter Hendrik Goll van Franckenstein, Amsterdam.[1] Baron Van Pallandt (according to Goldsmid sale). Neville D. Goldsmid, The Hague (L. 1962, verso, lower left), sold; [Hôtel Drouot (Pillet and Clement), Paris, 24 April 1876, lot 19.] Carl Robert Rudolf, London (L. 2811b, paper frame), sold; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston, 1974 (L. 3306, verso, lower left); The Maida and George Abrams Collection, 1999.129
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. 6 by William W. Robinson:

The son of an Amsterdam merchant, Jan de Bisschop attended the Latin School in his native city and, from 1649 to 1652, studied law at Leiden University. In 1652, he enrolled as an advocate at the Court of Holland, Zeeland, and West-Friesland in the Hague, where he practiced his profession for the remainder of his life. We know little about De Bisschop’s legal career, but the gifted amateur draftsman and printmaker ranked among the cultural elite of his generation.2 His publications of prints after ancient sculpture (Signorum veterum icones, 1669) and Italian Renaissance drawings (Paradigmata Graphices variorum artificum, 1671) helped propagate the classicist taste that prevailed in the Netherlands during the last third of the seventeenth century. De Bisschop designed and etched the plates in both volumes.3 In addition to his studies after antique sculpture and Italian drawings, De Bisschop drew landscapes, copies after paintings by Italian and Northern masters, and a few original portraits, genre scenes, and title pages.4 More than five hundred of his drawings survive.5

De Bisschop probably learned to draw in the middle 1640s from Bartholomeus Breenbergh, whose studies of Rome and its surroundings influenced generations of French and Dutch draftsmen who strove to capture the light and grandeur of the Italian countryside. Breenbergh must have taught him to exploit the contrast of the washes and reserved areas of paper to evoke spatial depth and convey the effect of bright sunlight and rich, subtly gradated shadows.6

De Bisschop’s landscape drawings range in date from 1648 to the 1660s.7 Many depict views in and around Leiden and the Hague, the cities where he spent his entire adult life. Houses and a Well near Koudekerk is an early work, probably executed at the beginning of the 1650s.8 The artist’s inscription By Kouwkerk (“near Koudekerk”) on the verso of the sheet locates this site near Koudekerk aan den Rijn, a village on the north bank of the Oude Rijn (“Old Rhine”) about ten kilometers east of Leiden.9 Over an extensive preliminary sketch in a granular black chalk, he finished the drawing with a brush in layers of brown and gray wash, making limited use of the pen. Its technique recalls his handling of several landscapes from the early fifties, including two views, dated 1650 and 1652, near Huis ten Deyl, a castle located between Leiden and the Hague (Figs. 1, 2).10

The Harvard work exemplifies the judicious refinement that characterizes De Bisschop’s landscape drawings. In the preface to Paradigmata Graphices, he explicitly deplores the unmediated naturalism of Dutch art, including the “tumbledown buildings” and “bare, crooked, misshapen trees” that feature in landscapes by his compatriots.11 His choice of motifs reflects his preference for a stately, harmonious landscape art. He favored Italian vistas with Roman ruins copied from drawings by Breenbergh and others who had traveled to Italy; Dutch views of topographical interest, such as country houses, city walls, and gates; and the type of sunny, congenial rustic scene that he depicted in Houses and a Well near Koudekerk.

In the early eighteenth century, the Delft collector Valerius Röver (1686–1739) assembled at least eighty-four of De Bisschop’s landscapes, including the present work. When Röver mounted the drawings in albums, he provided them with captions by transcribing in an elegant hand the topographical notes De Bisschop had scribbled on the versos. After Jonkheer Johann Goll van Franckenstein (1722–1785) acquired the drawings from Röver’s widow, they were remounted and Röver’s captions were cut out and adhered to the backs of the original sheets. A small paper strip inscribed in Röver’s hand, By Coukerck [sic], remains affixed to the verso of the Harvard work, and Röver’s captions have been preserved with several other De Bisschop landscapes.12


1 (This note refers to the provenance.) Although many drawings by De Bisschop appear in the Goll sale of 1 July 1833 (L. 13358), this sheet cannot be firmly matched with any lot description.

2 J. G. van Gelder, “Jan De Bisschop: 1628–1671,” Oud Holland, vol. 86, no. 1 (1971): pp. 201–5; Renske E. Jellema in Episcopius: Jan de Bisschop (1628–1671); Advocaat en tekenaar = Episcopius: Jan de Bisschop (1628–1671); Lawyer and draughtsman. Exh. cat. by Renske E. Jellema and Michiel Plomp, (Amsterdam: Museum het Rembrandthuis, 1992), pp. 6–11.

3 J. G. van Gelder and Ingrid Jost, Jan de Bisschop and His “Icones” and “Paradigmata.” (Doornspijk, 1985), vol. 1, pp. 14–19 and 70–71; Plomp in Jellema and Plomp, pp. 47–63.

4 Van Gelder, pp. 207–8; Plomp in Jellema and Plomp, p. 12.

5 Van Gelder, p. 201.

6 Ibid., p. 206; Plomp in Jellema and Plomp, pp. 13–14.

7 Van Gelder, p. 208, Plomp in Jellema and Plomp, pp. 13–14.

8 William Robinson in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Drawings: A Selection from the Maida and George Abrams Collection (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, Rijksprentenkabinet; Vienna: Albertina; New York: Pierpont Morgan Library; Cambridge: Harvard University Art Museums, 1991), p. 174; Plomp in Jellema and Plomp, pp. 14–15.

9 Formerly known simply as Koudekerk, the village was officially named Koudekerk aan den Rijn in 1938 to distinguish it from the village of Koudekerke on the (then) island of Walcheren in Zeeland.

10 The drawing reproduced in Figure 1 (Jan de Bisschop, View near Huis den Deyl, 1650) was sold at Sotheby’s, Amsterdam, 15 November 1995, lot 63. Brown ink, brown and gray wash, black chalk; 90 × 157 mm. Inscribed by the artist, lower left, brown ink, JE 1650 (The initials JE stand for Johannes Episcopius, the Latin form of the artist’s name). Inscribed by collector Valerius Röver, on a strip of paper adhered to the verso, in brown ink, Aen ’t Huys ten Deyl tusschen den Haegh en Leyden. As on the Harvard sheet, Röver’s inscription transcribes De Bisschop’s autograph annotation of the site, which is covered by a paper inlay on the verso. Compare De Bisschop’s Landscape vignette at Den Deijl, near Wassenaar, with small trees growing from an outcrop (Fig. 2), 1652. Pen and brown ink, with brown wash, over traces of black chalk; framing line in brown ink; 95 × 155 mm. Inscribed by the artist, recto, lower left, brown ink, JE. 1652, verso, upper left, brown ink, Aan 1 Juny bij den Deyl tusse[n] den Haegh en Leyden. London, Victoria and Albert Museum, E.785-1921; Jane Shoaf Turner and Christopher White, Dutch & Flemish Drawings at the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, 2014), vol. 1, cat. 19, pp. 20–21, repr.; Robinson, p. 174, repr.; Plomp in Jellema and Plomp, p. 14. These two landscapes, and others that came from the collection of Valerius Röver, are very nearly the same size as the Harvard drawing. Compare also Landscape with Two Large Trees, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, RP-T-1884-A-393, signed and dated 1652, and Landscape with Figures Walking on Road, Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, KdZ 5230, dated 1651.

11 Van Gelder, pp. 229–30; De Bisschop’s text quoted in note 130, and in Van Gelder and Jost, pp. 227–28.

12 For example, the drawing reproduced in Fig. 1 (see n. 10), as well as in Ben P. J. Broos and Marijn Schapelhouman, Oude tekeningen in het bezit van het Amsterdams Historisch Museum, waaronder de collectie Fodor: Nederlandse Tekenaars geboren tussen 1600 en 1660, (Amsterdam and Zwolle, Netherlands, 1993), cats. 27 and 28, pp. 42–44, and cat. 30, pp. 46–47 (nn. 11–12). Röver filed his drawings by De Bisschop in albums (Kunstboeken) numbered 17 to 19. The inscription of the numeral 17 on the paper inlay on the verso of the Harvard sheet postdates Röver’s ownership, but it might refer to his album 17, which contained eighty-four drawings by De Bisschop, nearly all of them landscapes.

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Curtis O. Baer, ed., Seventeenth Century Dutch Landscape Drawings and Selected Prints from American Collections, exh. cat., Vassar College Art Gallery (Poughkeepsie, NY, 1976), cat. no. 44, p. 60, repr. fig. 44

Frederik J. Duparc, Landscape in Perspective: Drawings by Rembrandt and his Contemporaries, exh. cat., The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Montreal, 1988), cat. no. 10, p. 68, 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. 78, pp. 174-5, repr.

Renske Jellema and Michiel C. Plomp, Episcopius. Jan de Bisschop, Advocaat en Tekenaar, exh. cat., Museum het Rembrandthuis (Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1992), pp. 14-15 and 18 (n. 16), as an early drawing

Walter S. Gibson, Pleasant Places: The Rustic Landscape from Bruegel to Ruisdael, University of California Press (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA and London, 2000), p. 171, repr. p. 173, fig. 123

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), cat. no. 6, pp. 43-45, repr. p. 44

Exhibition History

Seventeenth Century Dutch Landscape Drawings and Selected Prints from American Collections, Vassar College Art Gallery, Poughkeepsie, 03/28/1976 - 05/07/1976

Landscape in Perspective: Drawings by Rembrandt and his Contemporaries, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/20/1988 - 04/03/1988; The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, 04/15/1988 - 05/29/1988

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; The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, 01/22/1992 - 04/22/1992; Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 10/10/1992 - 12/06/1992

32Q: 2300 Dutch & Flemish, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/31/2018 - 03/06/2019

Crossroads: Drawing the Dutch Landscape, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/21/2022 - 08/14/2022

Subjects and Contexts

Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

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