Incorrect Username, Email, or Password
This object does not yet have a description.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Hendrick Goltzius, Dutch (Mühlbracht 1558 - 1617 Haarlem, Netherlands)
Portrait of a Man
Work Type
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Black, red, and ocher chalk, and gray wash, some incised lines, silhouetted, on cream antique laid paper, framing line in black ink
36.3 x 27.2 cm (14 5/16 x 10 11/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • watermark: mount: Fragment of a Strasbourg bend, Churchill 429
  • collector's mark: verso, lower right, blue ink stamp: L. 3306 (Maida and George Abrams)
  • inscription: mount, verso, upper right, graphite: no 14
  • inscription: verso, lower right, reddish-brown ink: Jan... [?, then illegible words]
  • inscription: verso, lower right, greenish-brown ink, written over "Jan...": L. ne[?]t[?] HG
  • inscription: verso, lower right, brown ink: Ao. 1591


Recorded Ownership History
Probably Mrs. Rita M. Johnson, probably sold [Christie’s, London, 29 March 1966, lot 240.] [Bernard Houthakker Gallery, Amsterdam] sold; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston, 1966 (L. 3306, verso, lower right); The Maida and George Abrams Collection, 1999.141

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)

In October 1590, Hendrick Goltzius, the internationally famous engraver of virtuoso prints such as The Great Hercules,1 left Haarlem for Rome. Traveling across Germany and Italy, he stopped in Munich, Venice, Bologna, and Florence before arriving in Rome in January 1591. He departed in August, returning to Haarlem by the same route. Karel van Mander, biographer and close friend of Goltzius, reported that he “was recognized . . . by the artists [in Rome], the most renowned of whom he portrayed with cryons, as he also did in Florence, Venice, and in Germany.”2 Van Mander singled out two of these drawings: one depicted the Munich painter Christoph Schwarz; the other, the Roman artist Girolamo Muziano.3 The term cryons in this context probably denotes both natural and fabricated chalks, although elsewhere Van Mander used it specifically to describe fabricated colored chalks or pastels.4 In his Lives of 1642, the Italian artist and biographer Giovanni Baglione wrote that in Rome, Goltzius made portraits of several of his friends with watercolors on paper, but he, too, must have had in mind the portraits in colored chalks. Baglione cited one example, which represented the Flemish miniaturist Frans van de Casteele (Francesco da Castello).5

Goltzius’s likenesses of Muziano, Schwarz, and Van de Casteele are lost or remain unidentified, but eight of the large, bust-length portrait drawings he produced in Munich and Italy in 1590–91, including Harvard’s Portrait of a Man, have survived.6 All are executed predominantly in red and black chalk. Through stumping and additions in white, brown, and ocher chalks, red and white opaque watercolor, and gray and brown washes, Goltzius depicted his subjects’ faces, eyes, and hair with a naturalism and pictorial breadth unprecedented in European portrait drawings.7 His likeness of Frans van de Casteele, wrote Baglione, was “assai naturale, che pareva vivo, tanto era ben rappresentato” (very natural, he seemed alive, he was so well represented).8

The identifiable sitters in the surviving portraits, like those recorded by Baglione and Van Mander, are all artists. With the exception of one German (Schwarz) and two Italians (Muziano and Jacopo Palma il Giovane), the subjects are Netherlanders who pursued their careers in Munich (Jan Sadeler), Venice (Dirck de Vries), Florence (Jan van der Straet, Giovanni da Bologna, Pietro Franqueville), and Rome (Da Castello).9 As Emil Reznicek suggested, the unidentified man in the Harvard portrait might also be an artist of northern European origin.10 Goltzius executed at least one large, close-up portrait drawing in colored chalks before he left for Italy. Dated 1588, it too depicts a fellow artist, the printmaker Gillis van Breen.11 During the years immediately after he returned to Haarlem, he drew two self-portraits and two portraits of artists that are similar in format, media, and technique to those produced in Italy.12 Alison Kettering has convincingly associated all these works with the tradition of friendship portraits—drawings made to memorialize personal encounters and/or to present as gifts—which accounts in part for their immediacy, informality, and “mimetic virtuosity.”13

The Harvard drawing has been cut out around the contours of the head, collar, and bust and mounted on a secondary support. The black-chalk and gray-wash background and black-ink borderline are not original and were presumably added when the portrait was silhouetted and mounted. Part of the mounting sheet has been scraped away to reveal the verso of the original drawing, which bears inscriptions in three brown inks, including Goltzius’s monogram and, in a different ink, Ao. 1591.14 None of these annotations are in the artist’s hand. The monogram and date were probably transcribed when the drawing was silhouetted and remounted, presumably recording an original monogram and date that were lost when the sheet was trimmed.15


1 Hollstein, vol. 8, no. 143, p. 32; Huigen Leeflang and Ger Luijten, eds., Hendrick Goltzius (1558–1617): Drawings, Prints and Paintings (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum; New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Toledo, OH: Toledo Museum of Art, 2003), cat. 36, pp. 106–8.

2 Karel Van Mander, Het Schilder-boeck (Haarlem, 1604), p. 283v; Karel van Mander, The Lives of the Illustrious Netherlandish and German Painters, from the First Edition of the Schilder-boeck (1603–04), ed. and trans. Hessel Miedema (Doornspijk, Netherlands, 1994–99), vol. 1, pp. 392–93, and vol. 5, pp. 194–95.

3 Van Mander, pp. 192v, lines 35–36, and 258r, lines 44–45; Van Mander/Miedema, vol. 1, p. 290, vol. 4, pp. 180–81, and vol. 5, p. 195.

4 Van Mander/Miedema, vol. 5, pp. 194–95.

5 “e qui in Roma ritrasse diverse suoi amici virtuosi, fatti sopra alcune carte tocche di colori in acquarelle raramente”; Giovanni Baglione, Le vite de’ pittori, scultori et architetti: Dal pontificato di Gregorio XIII del 1572 in fino a’ tempi di Papa Urbano Ottavo nel 1642 (Rome, 1642), p. 311, where he also cites the portrait of Frans van de Casteele, who was known in Italy as Francesco da Castello. Emil Karel Josef Reznicek, Die Zeichnungen von Hendrick Goltzius (Utrecht, 1961), vol. 1, p. 36, presumed that Baglione referred to the medium as watercolor because he must have been unfamiliar with the painterly handling of these portraits, which, in addition to colored chalks, did include some wash, transparent watercolor, and opaque watercolor.

6 See, in Reznicek, Dirck de Vries, 1590, Venice (Haarlem, Teylers Museum), vol. 1, cat. 287, p. 369, repr. vol. 2, pl. 140; Giovanni da Bologna, 1591, Florence (Haarlem, Teylers Museum), vol. 1, cat. 263, p. 355, repr. vol. 2, pls. 200–201; Pierre Francheville (Pietro Franqueville), 1591, Florence (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum), vol. 1, cat. 271, p. 359, repr. vol. 2, pl. 203; Jan Sadeler, 1591, Munich (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum), vol. 1, cat. 282, p. 366, repr. vol. 2, pl. 207; Jacopo Palma il Giovane, 1591, Venice (Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett), vol. 1, cat. 281, p. 365, repr. vol. 2, pl. 202; Jan van der Straet (Johannes Stradanus, Giovanni Stradano), 1591, Florence (Paris, Fondation Custodia, Frits Lugt Collection), vol. 1, cat. 286, pp. 368–69, repr. vol. 2, pl. 198; and Portrait of a Man, 1591 (Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Kunstsammlungen), vol. 1, cat. 342, p. 394, repr. vol. 2, pl. 199. For the Harvard drawing, see Emil Karel Josef Reznicek, “Drawings by Hendrick Goltzius, Thirty Years Later: Supplement to the 1961 catalogue raisonné,” Master Drawings, vol. 31, no. 3 (Autumn 1993): 215–78, cat. K 304a, p. 255, repr. p. 254, fig. 52. Reznicek, correctly in my view, accepted the date of 1591 written on the verso of the Harvard drawing as a transcription of the autograph date, now lost, inscribed by the artist. Alison McNeil Kettering, “The Friendship Portraits of Hendrick Goltzius,” Face Book: Studies on Dutch and Flemish Portraiture of the 16th–18th Centuries; Liber Amicorum Presented to Rudolf E. O. Ekkart on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday (Leiden and The Hague, 2012), pp. 75–80, p. 79 (n. 9), dates the Harvard drawing to the period after Goltzius returned to Haarlem—which, although undocumented, likely occurred between late 1591 and early 1592—but without providing any explanation. Two large, undated chalk portraits might also belong to this group, but one is a self-portrait and might postdate the Italian trip, and the other is less finished and immediate: see Reznicek (1961), Self-Portrait, c. 1591–92 (Stockholm, Nationalmuseum), vol. 1, cat. 255, pp. 349–50, repr. vol. 2, pl. 205; and Portrait of an Old Man (Weimar, Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Kunstsammlungen), vol. 1, cat. 343, p. 395, repr. vol. 2, pl. 206.

7 Reznicek (1961), vol. 1, pp. 84–85, Marijn Schapelhouman in Leeflang and Luijten, pp. 148–49, and Kettering 2012, pp. 77–78, discuss possible precedents and influences on Goltzius’s chalk portraits.

8 Baglione, p. 311.

9 See notes 2, 4, 5 and 6.

10 Reznicek (1993), under cat. K 304a, p. 255.

11 Reznicek (1961), vol. 1, cat. 264, pp. 355–56, repr. vol. 2, pl. 88; Marijn Schapelhouman in Leeflang and Luijten, cat. 47.1, pp. 152–53.

12 For the Stockholm portrait, see note 6 and Huigen Leeflang in Leeflang and Luijten, cat. 2, pp. 23–24, who dates it to circa 1590–92. For the Vienna self-portrait, see idem, cat. 3, pp. 24–25, and Reznicek (1961), vol. 1, cat. 256, p. 350, repr. vol. 2, pl. 362. For the portraits of Jacob Matham(?), 1592, and the goldsmith Johan Dideringh, 1596, see Reznicek (1961), vol. 1, cat. 279, p. 364, and cat. 268, pp. 357–59, repr. vol. 2, pls. 223 and 254.

13 Kettering, pp. 76–79.

14 See “Inscriptions and Marks.” My thanks to Penley Knipe for analyzing and imaging the inscriptions under infrared and ultraviolet lights.

15 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), cat. 3, pp. 24–25; Reznicek (1993), cat. K 304a, p. 255.

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

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

  • Master Drawings Exhibited by Bernard Houthakker, auct. cat. (Amsterdam, 1966), cat. no. 21, repr.
  • Franklin W. Robinson, ed., Things of this World: A Selection of Dutch Drawings from the Collection of Maida and George Abrams, exh. cat., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (Williamstown, MA, 1972), cat. 11, pp. 13 and 47-48, repr. p. 30
  • C. White, "Review of Things of this World", Master Drawings (1973), vol. 11, no. 4, p. 403, p. 403
  • [Reproduction only], Reproduction only, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, (Paris, September 1973)., repr. p. 20, fig. 20
  • Frima Fox Hofrichter, Haarlem: The Seventeenth Century, exh. cat., Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum (New Brunswick, NJ, 1983), cat. no. 51, pp. 86-87, repr.
  • 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. 3, pp. 24-25, repr.
  • 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, cat. no. K 304a, p. 255, repr. p. 254, fig. 52
  • Fiamminghi a Roma 1508-1608. Artistes des Pays-Bas et de la Principaute de Liege a Rome a la Renaissance, exh. cat., Societe des Expositions du Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles and Snoeck Decajou & Zoon (Brussels, 1995), under cat. no. 99, p. 202 (n. 1)
  • Seymour Slive, "Collecting 17th-century Dutch art in the United States: the current boom", Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum (2001), vol. 49, no. 1, pp. 84-99, p. 97 (n. 11)
  • Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums Annual Report 1999-2000 (Cambridge, MA, 2001), p. 12, repr.
  • Alison McNeil Kettering, "The Friendship Portraits of Hendrick Goltzius", Face Book: Studies on Dutch and Flemish Portraiture of the 16th-18th Centuries. Liber Amicorum Presented to Rudolf E. O. Ekkart, ed. Charles Dumas, Primavera Pers and Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie (Leiden and The Hague, 2012), pp. 75-80, p. 79 (n. 9)
  • 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), p. 23; cat. no. 42, pp. 151-153, repr. p. 152

Exhibition History

  • Things of this World: A Selection of Dutch Drawings from the Collection of Maida and George Abrams, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, 10/31/1972 - 02/25/1973
  • Haarlem: The Seventeenth Century, Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick, 02/20/1983 - 04/17/1983
  • 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, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 03/22/2003 - 07/06/2003
  • Abrams 50th reunion exhibition, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 06/01/2004 - 06/14/2004
  • Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/21/2016 - 08/14/2016

Subjects and Contexts

  • Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

Verification Level

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