Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Although this landscape includes details that appear specific—from the pair of travelers crossing a bridge to the view of a city that recedes in the distance—it does not represent an actual location and was most likely drawn inside Bril’s studio in Rome. Nevertheless, the concern with conveying tangible atmospheric effects, the employment of a low vantage point, and the gradual projection of the sense of depth in this drawing are all signs of a movement toward greater realism in Bril’s art in the years around 1600. Celebrated for his ability to enliven his landscapes through illumination, the artist here transformed a swampy forest interior into a mesmerizing theater of light. He achieved this striking effect by juxtaposing heavily shaded sections, such as the gnarled tree trunks at left, and fields of lighter colors, like the rocky outcrop at center, with areas of paper left entirely unworked.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Paul (Paulus) Bril, Flemish (Antwerp or Breda 1553/54 - 1626 Rome)
Wooded Landscape with Travelers
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Wooded Landscape with Figures
Work Type
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Brown ink and brown and gray wash over black chalk on cream antique laid paper, framing lines in black ink over black chalk
18.2 × 27.3 cm (7 3/16 × 10 3/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: lower right, brown ink: 1600 / [signed with a pair of spectacles]
  • collector's mark: verso, lower right, black ink: [rooster on a turtle] [Lugt 2811b, mark of Carl Robert Rudolf]
  • collector's mark: verso, lower right, blue ink: M G A [in monogram] [Lugt 3306, mark of Maida and George Abrams]
  • watermark: None
Sold [through Sotheby's, London, July 15, 1931, lot 69]. [P. & D. Colnaghi, London]. Carl Robert Rudolf, London (Lugt 2811b). Maida and George Abrams, Boston (Lugt 3306), 1975
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Promised Gift
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

"Old Master Drawings: The Rudolf Collection", The Illustrated London News (January 13, 1962), no. 6389, vol. 240, p. 65, p. 65, repr.

C. R. Rudolf, Old Master Drawings from the Collection of Mr. C. R. Rudolf, Arts Council of Great Britain, London (London, England, 1962), p. 19, cat. no. 90

David Burnett, "The Drawings of Paul Bril" (1974), University of London, no. 31, under no. 33

Franklin W. Robinson, Seventeenth Century Dutch Drawings from American Collections, exh. cat., International Exhibitions Foundation (Washington, D.C, 1977), cat. no. 1, p. 3, repr.

John Oliver Hand, J. R. Judson, and William W. Robinson, The Age of Bruegel: Netherlandish Drawings in the Sixteenth Century, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art/Cambridge University Press (Washington, D.C. and Cambridge, England, 1986), pp. 81-82, cat. no. 19

Louisa Wood Ruby, Paul Bril: The Drawings, Brepols (Brussels, 1999), pp. 89-90, no. 34

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. 3, pp. 30-31, repr. p. 31

Exhibition History

Old Master Drawings from the Collection of Mr. C. R. Rudolf, Arts Council Gallery, London, London, 01/05/1962 - 02/03/1962; City Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, 02/17/1962 - 03/11/1962; Leeds City Art Gallery, Leeds, 03/17/1962 - 04/07/1962

Seventeenth Century Dutch Drawings from American Collections, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 01/30/1977 - 03/13/1977; Denver Art Museum, Denver, 04/01/1977 - 05/15/1977; Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, 06/01/1977 - 07/15/1977

The Age of Bruegel: Netherlandish Drawings in the Sixteenth Century, National Gallery of Art, 11/07/1986 - 01/18/1987; The Morgan Library & Museum, 01/30/1987 - 04/05/1987

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

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

Subjects and Contexts

Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

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