- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
Esaias van de Velde, Dutch (Amsterdam, Netherlands 1587 - 1630 The Hague, Netherlands)
- Farms and a Dovecote by a Frozen River; verso: River Scene with a Ferry
- Work Type
- c. 1617-1618
- Persistent Link
- Physical Descriptions
- Black chalk on off-white antique laid paper; verso: black chalk counterproof, possibly worked up in black chalk
- 18.5 x 30.5 cm (7 5/16 x 12 in.)
- Inscriptions and Marks
- watermark: Strasbourg Lily with reversed 4 and WR below; variant of Heawood 1769 (Schieland, 1616)
- [Alfred Brod Gallery, London], sold; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston, 1969; The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2015.
- 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. 89 by William W. Robinson:
Farms and a Dovecote by a Frozen River, which dates from about 1617–18, is an early example of Esaias van de Velde’s innovative use of black chalk for a summary sketch of a landscape.1 Although Van de Velde was not the first Dutch artist to draw landscapes in black chalk, George S. Keyes rightly underscored the originality and influence of his technique. Following the lead of Esaias, countless landscapists—including Jan van Goyen (1965.204), Pieter de Molijn (2011.514), and Jacob van Ruisdael (2008.251 )—favored the medium for both quick sketches and finished compositions.2
The drawing served as the basis for a more finished version of the same scene executed in black chalk and gray wash (Fig. 1).3 The latter work is only marginally larger than the Harvard sheet, and Esaias introduced few changes to the design. He reduced the large tree in the right foreground and worked up the sky with long, horizontal strokes of the chalk. The deployment of the wash to define areas of shading and solidify the modeling of the forms lends to the second version a more pronounced effect of space and depth. Whether Esaias routinely followed this process to develop his finished drawings is not clear. The survival of the Harvard sketch and the Berlin work in Figure 1 constitutes a rare instance in his oeuvre in which both preliminary and definitive versions of the same composition have come down to us.4
Keyes identified the urban skyline in the center distance as that of Haarlem, which is recognizable by its most prominent feature, the church of Saint Bavo.5 Esaias lived in Haarlem until 1618. During that year, he moved to the Hague, where he spent the rest of his life.6
The black-chalk counterproof on the verso of the sheet evidently records, in reverse, a lost composition by the artist (Fig. 2). Although in places indistinct and partially obscured by the blotchy offset of black chalk at the right, it shows a town on a river or other body of water, its banks lined with houses and a mill. In the center foreground, a ferry transports human and bovine passengers to the opposite shore, and other rowing boats approach the bank at the left. Beyond the ferry, the masts and riggings of larger vessels rise to the right of a large tree, and in the distance, more buildings are visible.
1 George S. Keyes, Esaias van de Velde 1587–1630 (Doornspijk, 1984), under cat. D 69, p. 234, dates the related Berlin drawing (see n. 3 below) to circa 1617–18.
2 Ibid., pp. 34–35 and 73–74; George S. Keyes, “Esaias van de Velde and the Chalk Sketch,” Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek (1987), vol. 38: 136–45, pp. 140–43.
3 Esaias van de Velde, Farms and a Dovecote by a Frozen River (Fig. 1). Black chalk and gray wash. 198 × 310 mm. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, KdZ 3846. Keyes (1984), cat. D 69, p. 234.
4 Ibid., under cat. D 70, p. 235.
5 Ibid., under cat. D 69, p. 234.
6 J. G. C. A. Briels in ibid., p. 24.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Gift of George Abrams in honor of Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann
- 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. 7, p. 28, repr.
George S. Keyes, Esaias van de Velde 1587-1630, Davaco Publishers (Doornspijk, The Netherlands, 1984), cat. no. D 70, pp. 51 and 234-5, repr. pl. 73
Frederik J. Duparc, Landscape in Perspective: Drawings by Rembrandt and his Contemporaries, exh. cat., The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Montreal, 1988), cat. no. 90, p. 211, 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. 28, pp. 74-75, repr.
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. 20; cat. no. 89, pp. 296-298, repr. p. 297 (recto) and p. 298 (verso) as fig. 2; watermark p. 382
- 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
Abrams 50th reunion exhibition, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 06/01/2004 - 06/14/2004
- Subjects and Contexts
Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings
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