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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Jan Lievens, Dutch (Leiden, Netherlands 1607 - 1674 Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Forest Landscape with a Pond
Work Type
c. 1650-1670
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Brown ink, brown wash, black chalk, and later touches of white chalk on light tan antique laid paper prepared with light tan wash, partial framing line in black chalk at upper edge
22 x 35.6 cm (8 11/16 x 14 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: verso, lower left, graphite: J. Leupen / c 1660
  • collector's mark: verso, lower right, black ink, stamp: L. 2811b (C. R. Rudolf)
  • watermark:
    IHS surmounted by a cross; variant of Churchill 423 (with PB below, 1664) and Hinterding 2006, vol. 2, p. 156, B.c. (1658)


Recorded Ownership History
Possibly Gerard van Rossem, Amsterdam, possibly his sale [De Winter and Yver, Amsterdam, 8 February 1773, no. E393, together with another sheet for f. 17.10 to Fouquet]. Henry S. Reitlinger, London (L. 2274a, without his mark)(1). Carl Robert Rudolf, London (L. 2811b, verso, lower right) sold; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston (L. 3306, without their mark); The Maida and George Abrams Collection, gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2014.

(1) according to London 1953

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. 51 by William W. Robinson:

A child prodigy, Jan Lievens was apprenticed at the age of eight to Joris van Schooten in Leiden and at ten went to study with Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam. After two years with Lastman, the twelve-year-old master established a workshop in his native city. In pursuit of a career as a painter of portraits and historical narratives, Lievens worked in Leiden during the 1620s, moved for three years to London (1632–35), and spent about a decade in Antwerp (1635–44) before returning to the Dutch Republic.2

In addition to landscapes, Lievens’s drawings include portraits, figure studies, sketches, genre scenes, and biblical and mythological compositions.3 From the later 1630s to the 1650s he produced a few landscape paintings, but scarcely more than a dozen survive, and only one of his more than one hundred prints represents a pure landscape.4 Yet landscapes comprise nearly half of Lievens’s oeuvre of drawings: at least eighty-five have been preserved, and many others, now untraceable, are recorded in sale catalogues.5 Most are fully resolved compositions, presumably made for sale to collectors. Flawlessly executed with a broad-nibbed reed pen—often on Japanese paper, though at times on parchment6—they must have impressed his clients by their virtuosity as much as by the beauty or topographical significance of the imagery. Lievens’s technique resembles that of Anthony van Dyck, whose ink-and-wash landscape drawings he must have encountered in London (Fig. 1).7

In addition to carefully composed and neatly finished sheets executed in the studio, Lievens sketched landscapes from nature. Given the consistency of his technique and materials, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish a study made out of doors from a drawing produced in the atelier, but Forest Landscape with a Pond almost certainly belongs to the former category.8 Its pen work and loosely brushed wash are freer and more varied than the uniform, pristine strokes of the finished landscapes, while the vista is informally structured and lacks the kind of focal element, such as a cityscape, cottage, or sinuous tree trunk, that generally occurs in works made for sale. Lievens prepared the sheet by covering it with a pale wash, which imparts a warm, light brown tone similar to that of the Japanese papers he used in many of the finished drawings. A few of Lievens’s sketches from nature were incorporated into works composed in the studio, but no finished drawing based on the Harvard study has been identified.9

None of Lievens’s landscape drawings bear dates or relate directly to paintings or prints, which complicates any attempt to establish their chronology. A small group might have originated during his sojourn in London, but most appear to date from the period after he settled in Amsterdam in 1644.10 Gregory Rubinstein tentatively assigned Forest Landscape with a Pond to Lievens’s Antwerp years, citing the fresh imprint of Van Dyck’s example.11 Werner Sumowski, on the other hand, grouped the Harvard drawing with other nature studies that he dated to a later period.12 The watermark in the sheet is closely related, though not identical, to those in drawings by the artist that probably date from the 1660s.13


1 (This note refers to the provenance.) Hans Schneider and Rudolf E. O. Ekkart, Jan Lievens: Sein Leben und seine Werke (Reissue, Amsterdam, 1973), cat. SZ. 429, p. 390, and cat. Z. 269, p. 229.

2 Arthur Wheelock in Arther Wheelock et al., Jan Lievens: A Dutch Master Rediscovered (Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art; Milwaukee: Milwaukee Art Museum; Amsterdam: Museum het Rembrandthuis, 2008), pp. 1–25.

3 Werner Sumowski, Drawings of the Rembrandt School (New York, 1979), vol. 7, cats. 1588–1757xx, pp. 3543–933, and Gregory Rubinstein in Wheelock et al., pp. 69–79, and cats. 88–139, pp. 226–79.

4 Werner Sumowski, Gemälde der Rembrandt‑Schüler in vier Bänden (Landau, Germany, 1983), vol. 3, p. 1769, and cats. 1301–11, pp. 1812–16, repr. pp. 1940–50; Arthur Wheelock and Lloyd de Witt in Wheelock et al., p. 15, and cat. 37, pp. 152–53, cat. 42, pp. 160–61, and cat. 43, pp. 162–63. On the number of prints by Lievens and the woodcut that is his only landscape print, see Stephanie Dickey in idem, cat. 88, pp. 57 and 212–13.

5 Gregory Rubinstein in Wheelock et al., p. 70.

6 Sumowski (1979), vol. 7, under cat. 1672x, p. 3724, and Gregory Rubinstein in Wheelock et al., pp. 75–76.

7 Anthony van Dyck, The Edge of a Wood (Fig. 1). Brown ink and brown wash. 199 × 260 mm. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1970.14.1. Martin Royalton-Kisch, The Light of Nature: Landscape Drawings and Watercolours by Van Dyck and His Contemporaries (Antwerp: Rubenshuis; London: British Museum, 1999), cat. 8, pp. 78–9. On Van Dyck’s landscape drawings as models for those by Lievens, see Gregory Rubinstein in Wheelock et al., pp. 71–73, and under cat. 101, pp. 239–40, and under cat. 110, p. 250.

8 Sumowski (1979), vol. 7, p. 3711 and cat. 1749x.

9 Ibid., p. 3711, and Gregory Rubinstein in Wheelock et al., p. 74.

10 Gregory Rubinstein in Wheelock et al., pp. 72–73, and cat. 101.

11 Ibid., pp. 72–73, and cat. 110.

12 Sumowski (1979), vol. 7, under cat. 1745x, p. 3880.

13 The watermark, IHS surmounted by a cross (see “Watermark” under “Inscriptions and Marks”), is close to Churchill 423, for which Churchill gives the date 1664, and Erik Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher: The Practice of Production and Distribution, Studies in Prints and Printmaking 6 (Ouderkerk aan den IJsel, Netherlands, 2006), p. 156, B.c., which likely dates from 1658. Our watermark lacks the letters PB, which are associated with the Churchill and Hinterding references, and which appear in the nearly identical watermarks that occur in landscape drawings by Lievens in the Abrams Collection, Boston (William W. Robinson, 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, cats. 60 and 61, with beta radiographs reproduced on p. 277). An almost identical watermark and another very close variant of the one on Forest Landscape with a Pond, both also lacking the PB, appear on two Lievens landscape drawings in the Frits Lugt Collection, Fondation Custodia, Paris; see Peter Schatborn, Rembrandt and His Circle: Drawings in the Frits Lugt Collection (Bussum, Netherlands, 2010), cats. 119 and 123, with beta radiographs reproduced in vol. 2, pp. 207 and 208. See also Gregory Rubinstein in Wheelock et al., p. 76; and Schatborn, under cat. 118, p. 291.


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 Professor Seymour Slive
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • Hans Schneider, Lievens, sein Leben und seine Werke, De eerven F. Bohn n.v. (Haarlem, 1932), possibly cat. no. Z. 269, p. 229
  • Karl T. Parker and James Byam Shaw, Drawings by Old Masters, exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts (London, 1953), cat. no. 321, p. 80
  • Hans Schneider and Rudolf E.O. Ekkart, Jan Lievens: sein Leben und seine Werke (Amsterdam, 1973), cat. no. SZ. 429, p. 390 and possibly identical to cat. no. Z. 269, p. 229
  • Werner Sumowski, Drawings of the Rembrandt School, ed. Walter Strauss, Abaris Books (New York, NY, 1979), vol. 7, cat. no. 1749x, pp. 3888-9, repr.
  • Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., Jan Lievens: A Dutch Master Rediscovered, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC, 2008), cat. no. 110, p. 250, repr., and pp. 73 and 297
  • 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. 14, pp. 64-65, repr.
  • Gregory Rubinstein, "[Review] Rembrandt Drawings", The Burlington Magazine (January 2012), vol. 154, no. 1306, pp. 65-66, p. 66
  • Stijn Alsteens, [Review] William W. Robinson, with Susan Anderson, "Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums" (Winter 2015), p. 532
  • 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. 20; cat. no. 51, pp. 179-181, repr. p. 180; watermark p. 377
  • Joanna Sheers Seidenstein and Susan Anderson, ed., Crossroads: Drawing the Dutch Landscape, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, 2022), pp. 98, 186, 230, repr. p. 186 as fig. Q

Exhibition History

Subjects and Contexts

  • Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

Verification Level

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