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Gallery Text

One of the first draftsmen to study the Dutch landscape outdoors, Visscher created topographically accurate rustic village scenes characterized by their informal compositions and a speedy manner of execution. A striking example of this practice, the View of Houtewael is observed from a very low viewpoint and drawn using a dense network of lines that, varying from long and regular to stubby and zigzagging, effectively describe the different materials and textures in this rural environment. The foreground of the composition is dominated by the Diemerdijk—a seawall built to protect Amsterdam from flooding and an essential piece of infrastructure for a low-lying area in constant battle with rising sea levels. The inscription at the upper center of the sheet, identifying the village by its name, demonstrates the importance of topography in the development of the 17th-century Dutch landscape tradition.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1.2018.304
People
Claes Jansz. Visscher, Dutch (Amsterdam 1587 - 1652 Amsterdam)
Title
View of Houtewael; verso: Trunk of an Alder Tree and a Grassy Bank by a Pool
Classification
Drawings
Work Type
drawing
Date
c. 1607-1608
Culture
Dutch
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/213025
Location
Level 3, Room 3600, University Research Gallery
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Brown ink on cream antique laid paper, framing lines in brown ink
Dimensions
14.3 x 18.6 cm (5 5/8 x 7 5/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: Recto, upper center, brown ink, in the artist's hand: houtewael
  • inscription: Verso, upper left, brown ink, in the artist's hand: Els[z?]en stamm
  • watermark: top of sheet: fragment of a pot of flowers
Provenance
[Drouot Montaigne, Paris, December 12, 1988, lot 10], sold; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston, 1988

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Maida and George Abrams Collection, Boston, Long Term Loan
Object Number
1.2018.304
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
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Publication History

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. 22, pp. 62-63, repr.

Boudewijn Bakker, Landscapes of Rembrandt: His Favourite Walks, exh. cat., Thoth Publishers (Bussum, 1998), p. 217, Ill. 5

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. 5, repr.

Michael Zell, "A Leisurely and Virtuous Pursuit: Amateur Artists, Rembrandt, and Landscape Representation in Seventeenth-Century Holland", Simiolus, Waanders Uitgevers (Zwolle, The Netherlands, 2003), vol. 54, pp. 334-68, p. 350, repr. p. 353, fig. 23

Jeanne Faton, "Entretien avec George Abrams: Dessins de l'âge d'or hollandais", L'Estampille/L'Objet d'art (April 2003), no. 379, pp. 46-55, repr. p. 52

Ivan Gaskell, Rembrandt and the Aesthetics of Technique, brochure, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2006), checklist

Michael Zell, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and the Gift in Seventeent-Century Dutch Art, Amsterdam University Press (Amsterdam, 2021), pp. 331-332, repr. p. 332 as fig. 151

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

Landscapes of Rembrandt: His Favourite Walks Around Amsterdam, Gemeentearchief Amsterdam (Amsterdam Municipal Archives), Amsterdam, 09/30/1998 - 11/29/1998; Institut Néerlandais, Paris, 12/17/1998 - 02/14/1999

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

Rembrandt and the Aesthetics of Technique, Harvard University Art Museums, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 09/09/2006 - 12/10/2006

The Art of Drawing in the Early Dutch Golden Age, 1590–1630: Selected Works from the Abrams Collection, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/09/2017 - 01/14/2018

Crossroads: Drawing the Dutch Landscape, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/21/2022 - 08/14/2022

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 am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu