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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Willem Pietersz. Buytewech, Dutch (Rotterdam, Netherlands 1591/92 - 1624 Rotterdam, Netherlands)
A Standing Man, Hand on Hip
Work Type
c. 1616-1617
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Brown ink and brown wash over traces of black chalk on cream antique laid paper
27.6 x 8.7 cm (10 7/8 x 3 7/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: lower right, graphite: 11 [underlined]
  • watermark: Coat of arms surmounted by a helmet, plumes, and horns; unidentified
  • collector's mark: verso, lower center, stamp, blue ink: A [inside of A:] M / G [Lugt 3306, mark of Maida and George Abrams]


Recorded Ownership History
[Unidentified dealer or auction, Boston], sold; to Donald W. Moreland, Cambridge, by 1960, sold; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston, 1987 (Lugt 3306); The Maida and George Abrams Collection, gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2017

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. 17 by William W. Robinson:

The Twelve Years’ Truce (1609–21) recognized the de facto independence of the United Provinces of the Dutch Republic, providing a respite from five decades of destructive civil unrest and warfare in the Low Countries. The truce enabled the free expansion of the maritime trade that transformed the small nation into Europe’s greatest commercial power and enabled the rapid development of a prosperous mercantile class.

Artists satirized and celebrated the dissipations of the Republic’s nouveaux riches in “merry company” scenes, which emerged as a discrete theme in Dutch art during the second decade of the seventeenth century (Fig. 1).1 The most inventive exponent of the merry company was the painter, draftsman, and etcher Willem Buytewech, nicknamed Geestige Willem (“Witty William”) for the cleverness and originality of his work.2

Buytewech’s wit and innovative technique combine brilliantly in this trenchant study of a fashionable swell, one of approximately twenty ink-and-wash drawings of elegant, stylishly dressed young men that he made in Haarlem around 1614–17.3 The animated contours, sketched with vivid, fluid pen work, and the freely brushed but precisely calculated washes capture the bravura stance and smug expression of this impressive dandy, whose arrogance and affectation are enhanced by the low viewpoint and his splendid outfit. While the tall, narrow formats of the figure studies, the swaggering poses, and the emphasis on the clothing relate them generically to Buytewech’s set of seven costume prints, Noblemen of Different Nations, not one of these drawings served as the direct model for a plate in that series of etchings.4 Nonetheless, the purpose of the studies was undoubtedly to record the latest fashions for reference when composing finished works of art. Buytewech adapted one of the figures in a painting of around 1616–17 (see below), while other drawings in the group provided models for artists in his circle, such as Dirck Hals and Jan van de Velde.5

The artist’s largest figure study in this technique, the Harvard drawing must also be one of the latest. The complex pose, low point of view, and handling of the media relate it closely to a signed work (now in the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum in Braunschweig, Germany) that the artist used for a painting of about 1616–17 (Figs. 1, 2).6 Moreover, the pose of the model in the Harvard study resembles, in reverse, that of the gentleman at the right of the painting Genteel Courtship, which can be dated to about 1616–17, as well as that of the prodigal son in Buytewech’s drawing The Prodigal Son Receives His Inheritance, datable to around 1615–19.7


1 The painting Merry Company Outdoors (Fig. 1) is on long-term loan to the Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Preussischer Kulturbesitz. Oil on canvas; 71.6 × 94.5 cm. See Jan Kelch in Peter C. Sutton, Masters of Seventeenth-Century Dutch Genre Painting (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art; Berlin: Staatliche Museen, Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Gemäldergalerie; London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1984), cat. 25, pp. 170–71, repr. pl. 5.

2 The earliest reference to Buytewech as Geestig[h]e Willem is in J. Orlers, Beschryvinge der Stad Leyden (Leiden, 1641), p. 376, cited by Mària van Berge-Gerbaud, “Willem Buytewech,” in Jane Turner, ed., The Dictionary of Art (New York, 1996), vol. 5: 323–26, p. 326; Ger Luijten and Eddy de Jongh in Mirror of Everyday Life: Genre Prints in the Netherlands 1550–1700 (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, 1997), pp. 38–39, note that the term witty, when applied to Buytewech and other artists, must be understood in the “multivalent, seventeenth-century sense of the word: talented, inventive, learned, and full of esprit.”

3 Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, Willem Buytewech (Amsterdam, 1959), cats. 49–51, 53–58, 60–64, and 70–73, pp. 117–25, and Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, “A Standing Cavalier by Willem Buytewech,” Master Drawings, vol. 4, no. 2 (Summer 1966): 155–57.

4 For the etchings Noblemen of Different Nations, see Carlos van Hasselt, Mària van Berge, A. W. F. M. Meij, and Jeroen Giltay, Willem Buytewech (Paris: Institut Néerlandais, 1974), cats. 125–31, pp. 104–9.

5 Ibid., under cat. 56, pp. 48–49.

6 Willem Buytewech, Standing Dandy, Facing Left (Fig. 2). Brown ink, brown wash, over graphite. 228 × 128 mm. Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Braunschweig, Z 244. Signed, in brown ink, buitewech. Van Hasselt et al., cat. 57, pp. 52–53. A second, slightly more finished version is in Berlin; idem, cat. 56, pp. 51–52.

7 Van Hasselt et al., cat. 1, pp. 5–7 and cat. 7, pp. 14–15.


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 Richard J. Clasby, Harvard Class of 1954
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, "A Standing Cavalier by Willem Buytewech", Master Drawings (1966), vol. 4, no. 2, pp 155-157, pp. 155-57, repr. pl. 20
  • Willem Buytewech, exh. cat., Institut Néerlandais (Paris, 1974), cat. no. 58, pp. 49-50, repr. pl. 81
  • The Draughtsman at Work. Drawing in the Golden Century of Dutch Art, checklist (unpublished, 1980), no. 2
  • Frima Fox Hofrichter, Haarlem: The Seventeenth Century, exh. cat., Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum (New Brunswick, NJ, 1983), cat. no. 19, p. 66, repr.
  • Frederik J. Duparc, "[Review] Collectie Abrams in Rijksprentenkabinet", Tableau (1991), vol. 13, no. 5, pp. 40-42, pp. 41-42
  • 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. 14, pp. 46-47, repr., under under cat. no. 13, p. 44
  • George S. Keyes, "[Review] Seventeenth-Century Dutch Drawings. A Selection from the Maida and George Abrams Collection", Master Drawings (Winter 1992), vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 443-448, p. 445-46
  • Ger Luijten, ed., Dawn of the Golden Age: Northern Netherlandish Art, 1580-1620, exh. cat., Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and Waanders Uitgevers (Amsterdam and Zwolle, 1993), under cat. no. 294, p. 623 (n. 8)
  • Anna Knaap, "From Lowlife to Rustic Idyll: The Peasant Genre in 17th-Century Dutch Drawings and Prints", Harvard University Art Museums Bulletin, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1996), vol. IV, no. 2, pp. 31-59, cat. no. 9, pp. 38 and 55, repr. p. 38, fig. 8
  • William W. Robinson, "Abrams Dutch Drawings Given to the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Mass.", Apollo (December 1999), vol. 150, pp. 14-16, p. 16
  • William W. Robinson, "Old Master and Nineteenth-Century Drawings at the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University", Master Drawings, Master Drawings Association (2000), vol. 38, no. 3, Autumn, pp. 233-240, p. 238, repr. fig. 6
  • 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)
  • 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. 41, pp. 108-109, 255, 273, 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, p. 101 (n. 3)
  • Annemarie Stefes, Niederländische Zeichnungen 1450-1850: Kupferstichkabinett der Hamburger Kunsthalle, ed. Andreas Stolzenburg and Hubertus Gaßner, Böhlau Verlag (Cologne, 2011), vol. 1, under cat. no. 185, p. 155, (n. 7)
  • 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. 19; cat. no. 17, pp. 76-78, repr. p. 77; watermark p. 375

Exhibition History

Subjects and Contexts

  • Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

Verification Level

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