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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Pieter de Molijn, Dutch (London, England 1595 - 1661 Haarlem, Netherlands)
A Panoramic Landscape
Work Type
c. 1659
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Black chalk and gray wash on cream antique laid paper, laid down on an English (?) mount
18.8 x 29.9 cm (7 3/8 x 11 3/4 in.)
mount: 24.3 x 35.3 cm (9 9/16 x 13 7/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: black chalk, lower left: PM [in ligature] olyn.
  • inscription: mount, verso, upper center, brown ink: AH / B: JB. [? - in ligature] / aug -- 72
  • inscription: mount, verso, lower center, alternately graphite and brown ink: [graphite] signed P. [brown ink] Molyn, Bought at Jennings's Sale. A: D: 1778. T: P: N 1 / [graphite] b 1600. Haerlem
  • collector's mark: mount, lower right, black ink, stamp: L. 2811b (C. R. Rudolf)
  • inscription: mount, verso, upper right, graphite: #1
  • collector's mark: mount, verso, lower right, blue ink stamp: L. 3306 (Maida and George Abrams)
  • watermark: none visible
  • inscription: former mount, lower center, graphite: see verso
  • inscription: former mount, lower right, blue ink: Pieter PM [in ligature ]olyn. [underlined]
  • inscription: former mount, verso, upper left, graphite: No 60.
  • inscription: former mount, verso, center, graphite: PIETER MOLYN / Black chalk & grey wash. 188 x 207 mm. Signed [underlined] / with an inscription on the verso "Molyn, bought at Jennings sale AD 1778 T.P. No 1" / and a collector's mark "AH & BB - 72" / Collection: C. R. Rudolf ESQ.
  • inscription: former mount, verso, lower left, graphite: 1392 [encircled] / LRAX7 1/2
  • inscription: former mount, verso, lower left, graphite: C18
  • inscription: former mount, lower right, brown ink and graphite: 832 [crossed out] / 400 / 404 [crossed out]
  • inscription: mount, verso, center, graphite: DR [?] / 19 augusti - 72 / 28 [crossed out]


Recorded Ownership History
Henry Constantine Jennings, London (L. 2771, without his mark), sold; [Christie's, London, 15 April 1778, lot 29]; to James Peachey, 1st Baron Selsey, or John Peachey, 2nd Baron Selsey, by descent; to his heirs, sold; [Sotheby’s, London, 20-28 June 1872, 9th day’s sale, under lot 2642] to; [Jane Noseda, London]. Henry Oppenheimer, London, sold; [Christie’s, London, 10, 13-14 July 1936, lot 272A] to; [Thomas Agnew and Sons, London]. Carl Robert Rudolf, London, 1956 (L. 2811b, mount, lower right). [1] A. Simon, Hoe Farm, Surrey. Maida and George Abrams, Boston, 1981 (L. 3306, verso, lower right); The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Gift of George Abrams in memory of Roger Sonnabend, Harvard Business School Class of 1949, 2011.514.

[1] According to the Oppenheimer sale catalogue, our drawing was from the “(?) Philipe Collection,” which Hans Ulrich Beck interpreted to be T. Philipe - presumably Thomas Philipe of London, whose sales occurred in the early 19th century. However, the verso inscriptions demonstrate that the first or second Baron Selsey purchased the drawing at Jennings’s sale in 1778. It remained in the family until 1872, excluding Philipe’s ownership. Furthermore, William Robinson (Amsterdam et. al 1991, cat. no. 34) and Beck previously published this drawing with provenance including Alfred Brod in 1963. Robinson identified our drawing with cat. no. 57 in Brod’s catalogue of that year; however, the Brod drawing is a different drawing by Molijn which is signed and dated 1659.

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)

The painter, draftsman, and etcher Pieter de Molijn was born to Flemish parents in London, but spent most of his life in Haarlem, where he is first documented in 1616. From the mid-1620s through the early 1630s, De Molijn belonged to the vanguard of the “tonal phase” of Dutch landscape painting, producing naturalistic views of country roads and cottages distinguished by a nearly monochromatic palette and radically simple diagonal composition. Relatively few pictures have come down to us from the 1630s, but he resumed his active artistic career in the 1640s—his most prolific decade as a painter—and 1650s.1

Close to five hundred drawings by De Molijn survive, virtually all of them landscapes.2 A few depict alpine, Nordic, Italianate, and other foreign scenery, but most evoke the desolate, sandy countryside around Haarlem. The majority of his drawings—more than four hundred—date from the 1650s, when De Molijn, like his contemporary Jan van Goyen (1965.204), turned out a prodigious number of finished landscapes made for sale to collectors. For these works, De Molijn favored papers of two formats: one larger and more oblong (170/190 × 270/300 mm); the other smaller and more nearly square (140/150 × 185/195 mm). Most drawings of 1654 and 1655, his most productive years as a draftsman, are on sheets of the smaller size. During the second half of the 1650s, he used both formats but preferred the larger one, which suited the panoramic and mountainous views he depicted in several landscapes, including the Harvard work.3

In contrast to Van Goyen, who filled his sketchbooks with studies of landscape motifs made from nature and consulted them when composing his finished drawings, De Molijn evidently created these works from his imagination. No studies from nature by him have come down to us, and even plausibly naturalistic scenes seldom incorporate identifiable sites.4 Although superficially like Van Goyen’s handling of chalk and wash, the technique of De Molijn’s late drawings makes a very different impression. Van Goyen’s stroke is decisive and robust, and areas of light and shadow are neatly demarcated. In contrast, the feathery contours and scattered patches of light in De Molijn’s drawings of the 1650s lend to these landscapes an ethereal, restless appearance.

The Harvard work is not dated, but comparison of its technique and composition with drawings of the late 1650s indicates that it very likely originated during the last years of De Molijn’s career (Fig. 1).5 It shows a fanciful, composite view that combines a steep track beneath a tall, overgrown bank with a panoramic vista stretching into the distance. Like other drawings from the artist’s late period, including the one reproduced in Figure 1, it reminds us that pioneers of a naturalistic style in Dutch landscape art, such as De Molijn, Esaias van de Velde, and Jacob van Ruisdael, depicted imaginary foreign scenery as well as the local countryside.


1 Eva Allen, “Molyn [Molijn], Pieter (de),” in Jane Turner, ed., The Dictionary of Art (New York, 1996), pp. 825–27; Hans‑Ulrich Beck, Pieter Molyn 1595–1661: Katalog der Handzeichnungen (Doornspijk, Netherlands, 1998), pp. 9–11.

2 Beck, cats. 1–503a, pp. 41–214.

3 In his 1998 catalogue of the artist’s drawings, Hans-Ulrich Beck discusses De Molijn’s preferred types of landscapes (Beck, pp. 10 and 19), his periods of greatest productivity (pp. 14 and 18), and his favored papers and formats (pp. 12–13). He describes about eighty dated works from 1654 and about sixty from 1655, and he assigns many undated sheets to the same years (p. 18, and cats. 78–81, 84–98, 111–18, 141–47, 159a–163a, 170–74, and 206–305a). Regarding his format preferences during the 1650s (at the time of the Harvard sheet), see pp. 13 and 18.

4 Ibid., pp. 7, 17, and 19–20.

5 Pieter de Molijn, Landscape with Figures (Fig. 1). Black chalk, gray-brown wash. 184 × 298 mm. Signed and dated, PMolyn / 1659. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1973.68. Beck, cat. 329, p. 159. Other comparable drawings dated 1659 include, in the same volume, cats. 178, 180, 327, and 332.


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 Roger Sonnabend, Harvard Business School Class of 1949
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • Catalogue of the Famous Collection of Old Master Drawings Formed by the Late Henry Oppenheimer, Esq., F.S.A., auct. cat., Christie's, London (London, July 10, 1936 - July 14, 1936), lot 272A
  • 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. 34, pp. 86-87, repr.
  • Hans-Ulrich Beck, Pieter Molyn 1595-1661: Katalog der Handzeichnungen, Doornspijk (Davaco, 1998), cat. no. 453, p. 202, repr.
  • 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), under cat. no. 20, p. 64, repr. fig. 1
  • Stijn Alsteens, [Review] William W. Robinson, with Susan Anderson, "Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums" (Winter 2015), repr. as 59 on p.204
  • 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), cat. no. 59, pp. 204-206, repr. p. 205
  • Joanna Sheers Seidenstein and Susan Anderson, ed., Crossroads: Drawing the Dutch Landscape, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, 2022), pp. 49, 164, 231, repr. p. 164 as fig. O

Exhibition History

Subjects and Contexts

  • Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

Verification Level

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