- Identification and Creation
- Physical Descriptions
- Transparent watercolor, black ink, and gray wash, incised and silhouetted, on cream antique laid paper
- irregular: 22.2 x 13.9 cm (8 3/4 x 5 1/2 in.)
mount: 39 x 25.9 cm (15 3/8 x 10 3/16 in.)
- Inscriptions and Marks
- watermark: none
- Probably Jacques de Gheyn III, The Hague and Utrecht; probably Johannes Uytenbogaert, Amsterdam, probably by descent; to Jan and Jacob van Gheel, Amsterdam. Probably Jan Pietersz. Zomer, Amsterdam (his undated collection catalogue, no. 56 [see note 1]); presumably sold; [Jan van Zutphen and Gysbert Hol, Amsterdam, 5 April 1725]. Probably Jan Goeree, Amsterdam, sold; [Schoemaker, Amsterdam, 12 March 1731 and following days, lot T.] [1.] [Christie's, London, 23 March 1982, lot 67, repr.] sold; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston (without their mark, L. 3306); The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Gift of George Abrams in memory of Melvin Seiden, Harvard Class of 1952, 2011.512.
[1.] De Gheyn’s drawings for the plates in "The Exercise of Arms" remained together through the first three decades of the eighteenth century. They are first recorded in the collections of Jan Pietersz Zomer (1641-1724) and Jan Goeree (1670-1731). On the death of the artist, they were presumably inherited by his son, Jacques de Gheyn III, and might have passed from him to Johannes Uytenbogaert (1608-1680), and then by descent to Jan (1667-1757) and Jacob van Gheel (1670-1721). Zomer’s catalogue of his stock or private collection—"‘t Heerelyk Konst-Kabinet van Teekeningen en Prenten by een vergadert door den Konst-Vermaarden Ian Pietersz. Zomer in Amsterdam" (not dated, but compiled c. 1720-24)--lists in a single album all the drawings for "The Exercise of Arms," together with sixteen for "The Riding School," a series of twenty-two prints depicting cavalry exercises. All these drawings presumably figured in the sale of Zomer’s collection (Amsterdam, Jan van Zutphen and Gysbert Hol, 5 April 1725), but no copy of the catalogue survives. Goeree owned only the drawings for "The Exercise of Arms," which he preserved in three albums.
- 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. 37 by William W. Robinson:
During the protracted struggle for independence from Spain, the army of the United Provinces of the Netherlands evolved into one of the finest in Europe. Maurice (Maurits), Prince of Orange-Nassau (1567–1625), stadholder of the United Provinces and commander of the Dutch forces, collaborated with his cousins Count Willem Lodewijk of Nassau-Dillenburg (1560–1620) and Count Jan “de Middelste” of Nassau-Siegen (1561–1623), introducing reforms in military tactics, discipline, armaments, administration, and logistics. Jan of Nassau-Siegen took a practical and theoretical interest in training infantry and cavalry in the handling of weapons. The drills he developed in the 1590s, codified in manuscripts and drawings prepared under his supervision, provided the basis for the creation of Jacques de Gheyn’s manual Wapenhandelinghe van Roers Musquetten en Spiessen (translated to English as The Exercise of armes for calivres, muskettes and pikes).2
On May 29, 1606, De Gheyn received from the States General a privilege to engrave and publish the book, and editions in Dutch, German, English, French, and Danish appeared in 1607 and 1608. In a letter of December 10, 1608, Jan wrote that “about ten or twelve years ago” he had commissioned De Gheyn to prepare the drawings in the Hague. Jan’s letter permits us to date the drawings to around 1596–98, a decade before the manual’s publication.3 They probably originated at the same time as the models for The Riding School or Exercise of Cavalry, a manual for the handling of weapons used by cavalrymen; those were designed by De Gheyn in 1598–99, and engraved and published in 1599.4 The publication of the more comprehensive Exercise of armes might have been delayed to prevent its use by the enemy.5 The volume opens with a title page and preface by De Gheyn, followed by 116 plates that illustrate the use of the caliver (or smallshot), the musket, and the pike. The engravings for the original edition, which are not by De Gheyn himself, are invariably the same size and in the same sense as the drawings.6
Preceding each of the three sections is a text that instructs the soldier on the action depicted in the engraved plates and quotes the associated command. The instruction accompanying plate 24 in the section on the musket (Fig. 1), for which the Harvard drawing served as the model, reads, in the English version, “how he shall charge the Musket out of the charges, letting the Musket rest yet trayle, but no way suffering the Musket to come to the ground, if he not be to wearie.” The command is “Charge your Musket.”7
Drawings by De Gheyn for at least half the plates in the Exercise of armes have come down to us. Most are executed in brown ink and gray wash over black chalk.8 Some, including the Harvard sheet, were incised to transfer the outlines to the copper plate, but others were not indented.9 The present work and another, still in the Abrams collection (Fig. 2), are the only known drawings that De Gheyn worked up with watercolor.10 Both were later silhouetted (cut out along the contours) and pasted down to a new support. Perhaps De Gheyn produced them as models for the workshop assistants responsible for hand-coloring the presentation copies ordered by Prince Maurice as gifts for his allies, as well as other luxury copies.11
1 (This note refers to the provenance.) De Gheyn’s drawings for the plates in The Exercise of armes remained together through the first three decades of the eighteenth century. They are first recorded in the collections of Jan Pietersz. Zomer (1641–1724) and Jan Goeree (1670–1731). On the death of the artist, they were presumably inherited by his son, Jacques de Gheyn III, and might have passed from him to Johannes Uytenbogaert (1608–1680), and then by descent to Jan and Jacob van Gheel (1667–1757 and 1670–1721). Zomer’s catalogue of his stock or private collection— ’t Heerelyk Konst-Kabinet van Teekeningen en Prenten by een vergadert door den Konst-Vermaarden Ian Pietersz. Zomer in Amsterdam (not dated, but compiled c. 1720–24)—lists in a single album all the drawings for the publication The Exercise of armes, together with sixteen for The Riding School, a series of twenty-two prints depicting cavalry exercises. All these drawings presumably figured in the sale of Zomer’s collection (Van Zutphen and Hol, Amsterdam, 5 April 1725), but no copy of the catalogue survives. Goeree owned only the drawings for The Exercise of armes, which he preserved in three albums. See I. Q. van Regteren Altena, Jacques de Gheyn: Three Generations (The Hague, Boston, and London, 1983), vol. 1, pp. 164–65, and vol. 2, under cat. II 345, pp. 67–68, and Carlos van Hasselt in Carlos van Hasselt and Mària van Berge-Gerbaud, Institut Néerlandais. Le héraut du dix‑septième siècle: Dessins et gravures de Jacques de Gheyn II et III de la Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt (Paris: Institut Néerlandais, 1985), cat. 4, pp. 10–12, particularly pp. 11–12 (nn. 2–3), and Michiel C. Plomp, The Dutch Drawings in the Teylers Museum (Ghent and Doornspijk, 1997), pp. 16 and 24, “Appendix.”
2 For the Exercise of armes, its background and publication history, see J. B. Kist, The exercise of armes: A commentary (Lochem, Netherlands, 1971); Karel G. Boon, Netherlandish Drawings of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries: Catalogue of Dutch and Flemish Drawings in the Rijksmuseum (The Hague, 1978), pp. 69–74; Van Regteren Altena, vol. 2, pp. 64–67; Mària van Berge-Gerbaud in Van Hasselt and Van Berge-Gerbaud, cat. 37; A. W. F. M. Meij and Jurriaen Poot in A. Th. van Deursen, Emil Karel Josef Reznicek, et al., Jacques de Gheyn II, 1565–1629: Drawings (Rotterdam: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen; Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1985), p. 46; Kees Zandvliet et al. in Maurits van Oranje (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, 2000), pp. 173–75 and 249–52. For an illustrated manuscript that probably influenced De Gheyn’s manual, see Zandvliet et al., cat. 100, pp. 249–50.
3 Van Regteren Altena, vol. 2, pp. 64–67.
4 Jan Piet Filedt Kok and Marjolein Leesberg in New Hollstein, De Gheyn Family, part 2, nos. 190–211, pp. 38–63, and Van Regteren Altena, vol. 1, pp. 54–55, vol. 2, cats. II 300–321, repr. vol. 3, pp. 60–64, plates 63–70.
5 Filedt Kok in Filedt Kok and Leesberg, part 1, p. xxxv.
6 The engravings were probably executed by more than one printmaker. Robert de Baudous, Cornelis Drebbel, and Andries Jacobsz. Stock have been cited as possible engravers. Mària van Berge-Gerbaud in Van Hasselt and Van Berge-Gerbaud, cat. 37; Jan Piet Filedt Kok, “Jacques de Gheyn II: Engraver, Designer, and Publisher,” Print Quarterly, vol. 7, no. 3 (Sept. 1990): 248–81 and vol. 7, no. 4 (Dec. 1990): 370–96, under cats. 146–262, p. 379; Filedt Kok and Leesberg, part 2, nos. 340–457, pp. 159–207.
7 Unidentified engraver, possibly Robert de Baudous, after Jacques de Gheyn II, Wapenhandelinghe van Roers Musquetten en Spiessen (Fig. 1), The Hague, 1608, pl. 24 in the section on the handling of the musket. Engraving. 267 × 191 mm. Numbered, in the second state, 24. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, BI-B-FM-006-66. Filedt Kok and Leesberg, part 2, no. 406, p. 169, repr. p. 195.
8 Van Regteren Altena, vol. 2, cats. II 342–64.
9 A. W. F. M. Meij and Jurriaen Poot in Van Deursen et al., p. 46. Felice Stampfle, Netherlandish Drawings of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries and Flemish Drawings of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries in the Pierpont Morgan Library (New York, 1991), under cat. 61, p. 35.
10 Jacques de Gheyn II, Soldier Charging His Caliver (Fig. 2). Black and brown ink, black chalk, transparent watercolor; incised; silhouetted. 225 × 130 mm. Boston, Maida and George Abrams Collection. See William Robinson in Bruegel to Rembrandt: Dutch and Flemish Drawings from the Maida and George Abrams Collection (London: British Museum; Paris: Institut Néerlandais; Cambridge: Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, 2002), cat. 28b, pp. 80–81, repr. Engraved as plate 21 in the section on the handling of the caliver in Wapenhandelinghe van Roers Musquetten en Spiessen, The Hague, 1608.
11 Van Regteren Altena, vol. 2, p. 65; George S. Keyes, “New Observations on Jacques de Gheyn’s ‘The Exercise of Armes,’” The Print Collector’s Newsletter, vol. 13, no. 6 (Jan.–Feb., 1983): 211–12, pp. 211– 12; A. W. F. M. Meij and Jurriaen Poot in Van Deursen et al., p. 46; Zandvliet et al., cat. 102, p. 251; and Filedt Kok in Filedt Kok and Leesberg, part 1, pp. xxxv and xli (n. 76), discuss hand-colored copies of the book. As Filedt Kok noted, the hand-tinted copies are colored in vivid hues of blue, green, orange, red, and purple, and in different copies the same costume may be worked up in different color combinations. The palette of violet, gray, pink, and brown in the Harvard and Abrams drawings is subtler and more restrained.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Gift of George Abrams in memory of Melvin Seiden, Harvard Class of 1952
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- European and American Art
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- Publication History
I. Q. van Regteren Altena, Jacques de Gheyn: Three Generations, M. Nijhoff Publishers (The Hague, Boston and London, 1983), vol. 1, p. 54, vol. 2, cat. no. II 411, p. 74
George Abrams, "Collectors and Collecting", Drawings Defined, ed. Walter Strauss, Abaris Books (New York, 1987), pp. 415-429, p. 422, repr. p. 426, fig. 13
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. 7, pp. 32-33, repr.
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), cat. no. 28a, pp. 80-81 and 252, repr.
Michiel C. Plomp, "[Review] Bruegel to Rembrandt. Dutch and Flemish Drawings from the Maida and George Abrams Collection.", Oud Holland (2004), vol. 117, no. 1/2, pp. 99-102, pp. 100 and 101 (n. 3)
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. 37, pp. 136-138, repr. p. 137
- 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; 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
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
- Subjects and Contexts
Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings
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