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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Hans Bol, Netherlandish (Mechelen, Belgium 1534 - 1593 Amsterdam, Netherlands)
An Allegory of Autumn
Work Type
16th century
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Brown ink and brown wash over touches of black chalk on light tan antique laid paper, framing lines in black ink over brown ink, laid down on blue support
17 x 29.6 cm (6 11/16 x 11 11/16 in.)
mount: 23 x 35.6 cm (9 1/16 x 14 1/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: verso of secondary mount, lower center, graphite: 292 [encircled]
  • watermark: none visible. Beta will not be made; mount is too thick.
  • inscription: secondary mount, center, graphite: LV / 1900


Recorded Ownership History
[Hauswedell & Nolte, Hamburg, 6 June 1985, lot 15], sold; to [Thomas le Claire Kunsthandel, Hamburg], sold; [Christie's, Amsterdam, 15 November 1993, lot 34], sold; to [Vermeer Associates Limited, Brampton, Ontario], sold; to Harvard University Art Museums, 1994.

Published Text

Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: The Complete Collection Online
Multiple authors
Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2017–)

In addition to three albums of animal studies, an illuminated prayer book, and about one hundred small, independent paintings in opaque and transparent watercolor (see 2001.54, 2004.75), Hans Bol produced 66 autograph etchings and designed 266 compositions engraved by professional printmakers. Of approximately 260 surviving drawings in ink or ink and wash, around a hundred are studies or models for prints.1

The Harvard Autumn is a preliminary sketch that preceded, and aided, the execution of the detailed drawing of the composition that Bol furnished to an engraver for reproduction. As such, it is a rare survival in his oeuvre and provides valuable insights into the working method he followed in developing his numerous designs for prints.2 In this study, Bol summarily described the topography of the landscape, the tree groups, the buildings at lower left and right, and the male personification of Autumn, with the cornucopia, sickle, and some of the figure’s other attributes, in the center foreground. The format of the finished version—that is, the engraver’s model—is more nearly square, and Bol had to compress the oblong composition of the Harvard sketch, narrowing the hillside in the right middle ground and diminishing or eliminating farm buildings at lower right.3 In place of the low-slung barn in the Harvard drawing, he substituted a large hay wagon drawn by two horses, and he added the signs of the zodiac at the top and elaborated the figures treading grapes at lower left and those cutting grain on the hill at the right. The engraving by Johannes Sadeler (R4854), which reverses the composition of the model drawing and adds a four-line Latin verse below the image, is one of four plates comprising a series that combines the imagery of the seasons with that of the Four Ages of Man.4 Bol’s finished drawings for all four plates in the set belong to the Hermitage Museum, in Saint Petersburg. While those drawings are all dated 1579, Sadeler’s engravings were published the following year.5


1 Stefaan Hautekeete, “New Insights into the Working Methods of Hans Bol,” Master Drawings 50 (3) (Fall 2012): 329; see Stefaan Hautekeete in New Hollstein, Hans Bol, part 1, pp. xxvii–xxx, lxi.

2 Hautekeete, “New Insights,” pp. 336–37; Hautekeete in New Hollstein, Hans Bol, p. lxxv. Hautekeete cites other examples of this type of drawing by Bol: March, Kupferstich-Kabinett, Dresden, C 878 (Hautekeete, “New Insights,” pp. 336–37, Fig. 12); The Sacrifice of Abraham, École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, M 358 (Hautekeete in New Hollstein, Hans Bol, part 1, pp. lv–lvii, Fig. 34); and The Farewell of Abraham and Lot, Musée Calvet, Avignon, 996-7-978 (Stefaan Hautekeete in New Hollstein, Hans Bol, part 1, pp. liii–liv, Fig. 31). However, the more detailed versions based on the Paris and Avignon sketches were evidently intended as finished drawings, rather than models for engraving.

3 Hans Bol, Autumn, brown ink and brown wash, 205 × 305 mm, signed and dated Hans bol / 1579, Saint Petersburg, Hermitage Museum, O P 356. Hautekeete, “New Insights,” pp. 377, 379, Fig. 15; Hautekeete in New Hollstein, Hans Bol, part 1, pp. lxxv, lxxvii, Fig. 60; part 2, p. 129, under no. 245.

4 Johannes Sadeler, after Hans Bol, Autumn: Hautekeete in New Hollstein, Hans Bol, part 2, no. 245, p. 129.

5 For the series and the related drawings, see Hautekeete in New Hollstein, Hans Bol, part 2, nos. 243–46. Two of the four engravings, Winter and Summer, are dated 1580; Spring and Autumn are undated.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Alpheus Hyatt Purchasing Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • Handzeichnungen Alter Meister 1500-1800, auct. cat., Thomas Le Claire Kunsthandel (Hamburg, Germany, 1985), cat. no. 9, pp. 20-21, repr.
  • Frieder Ryser, “Der goldene Herbst. Ein Hinterglasbild und seine Vorzeichnung”, Kunst und Antiquitäten (1992), no. 10, pp. 28-31, repr. fig. 3
  • Thomas Le Claire Kunsthandel, Master Drawings 1500-1900, vol. VIII, exh. cat., W. M. Brady & Co., Inc. (New York, 1992), cat. no. 10, pp. 24-25, repr.
  • F. W. H. Hollstein, The New Hollstein : Dutch & Flemish etchings, engravings, and woodcuts, 1450-1700, Koninklijke van Poll, Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, and Sound + Vision Publishers (Roosendall, Rotterdam, and Ouderkerk aan den IJssel, 1993 - ongoing), vol. 27 (Hans Bol, compiled by Ursula Mielke with contributions by Stefaan Hautekeete, 2015), Part 1, pp. lxxv-lxxvi, fig. 61
  • Stefaan Hautekeete, "New Insights into the Working Methods of Hans Bol", Master Drawings (2012), vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 329-56, pp. 336-7, repr. p. 339, fig. 14

Exhibition History

  • Handzeichnungen alter Meister 1500-1800, Thomas Le Claire Kunsthandel, Hamburg, 11/01/1985 - 12/31/1985
  • Master Drawings 1500-1900, Thomas Le Claire Kunsthandel, Hamburg, 01/15/1992 - 02/01/1992

Subjects and Contexts

  • Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

Related Works

Verification Level

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