Incorrect Username, Email, or Password
This object does not yet have a description.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Jacob Cats, Dutch (Altona, Germany 1741 - 1799 Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Winter Landscape with a Coach and Travelers by a House
Work Type
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Brown ink, gray wash, and black chalk on cream antique laid paper; framing line in brown ink
13.5 x 17.6 cm (5 5/16 x 6 15/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: verso, lower left, brown ink: bij wijk aan t Duijn / J: Cats fec / 1786
  • inscription: verso, upper right, graphite: f80
  • inscription: verso, lower left, graphite: 3x9 [? or an unidentified symbol] xw [underlined]
  • inscription: verso, lower left, graphite: fsp. no. 5-- / 430.
  • inscription: verso, lower right, graphite: 4 [encircled]
  • watermark: Fragment of a crown, probably from atop a Strasbourg Lily; variant of Heawood 1828 (after 1746)


Recorded Ownership History
Pieter Langerhuizen, Crailoo near Bussum (without his mark, L. 2095), sold; [Muller, Amsterdam, 29 April 1919, lot 146]; to Van Groenewegen. H. E. ten Cate, Oldenzaal (without his mark, L. 533b). [C. G. Boerner, Düsseldorf.] [K. J. Müllenmeister, Solingen.] Private collection, Rhineland. [Sotheby’s, London, 14 December 1992, lot 24, repr.], sold; to Vermeer Associates Ltd., Brampton, Ontario, sold; to Harvard University Art Museums, 2004; The Kate, Maurice R. and Melvin R. Seiden Special Purchase Fund in honor of Deborah Loeb Brice, 2004.74

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. 18 by Susan Anderson:

Jacob Cats was apprenticed first to a fabric merchant and then to a bookbinder, but following his youthful talent for drawing, he went on to learn engraving under Abraham Starre and drawing with Pieter Louw. Like his Amsterdam colleague and collaborator Egbert van Drielst (see 1980.10), Cats spent the early years of his career producing decorative wall paintings—initially under Gerard van Rossum, then with Jan Hendrik Troost van Groenendoelen, and later in his own workshop. Toward the end of the century, when the vogue for grand paintings waned, he turned instead to finished drawings. His landscape drawings, especially, fetched high prices even during his lifetime, and he was commissioned to execute watercolor copies of esteemed paintings from the Golden Age.1

Cats’s inscription on the verso of this sheet locates the scene in the vicinity of Wijk aan Duin, a sparsely populated area now part of the municipality of Beverwijk. Lying in the northern portion of Kennemerland—lands in and around Haarlem—the dunefilled wilderness of this region had offered recreational hunting grounds since medieval times.2 This area’s attractive contrast of meadows, woods, and dunes inspired literary praise and contributed to the development of what is now considered “Dutch” landscape beginning in the late sixteenth century, from Hendrick Goltzius’s plein-air drawings, to print series of “pleasant places” by Claes Jansz. Visscher and others, to Jacob van Ruisdael’s breathtaking, distant city views.3 In the years leading up to Cats’s career, subjects and themes from the Golden Age had come to the fore as hallmarks of a national school worthy of revival. Cats himself followed seventeenth-century artists by depicting scenes of this dune region several times, inscribing the locations on this and other such sheets (Fig. 1).4

Although Cats also drew more conventional representations of urban winter scenes, with their merriment and commercial bustle on the river or harbor, here and in other winter drawings he has depicted the harsher toll the season takes on rural travelers. The hunter and his boy tuck their hands within their coats at the lower right, the horse-drawn party huddles in its carriage, and the man on horseback arrives at a sturdy dwelling with the smoke of its warm fire emanating from the chimney.

Cats’s finished drawings range in tonality from a rainbow of watercolor to gray monochrome. In the Harvard sheet, he astutely chose brown ink and shades of gray wash to give this scene an eye-catching contrast of color while matching winter’s somber sheen. As in other winter landscapes by Cats, here he rendered the areas of snow by reserving the white paper between his applications of ink and wash. His representation of the delicate adherence of fresh snow to the bare, intricate tree branches is especially masterful.


1 Roeland van Eijnden and Adriaan van der Willigen, Geschiedenis der Vaderlandsche Schilderkunst, sedert de helft der XVIII eeuw (Haarlem, 1816–40), vol. 2, pp. 303–16.

2 H. J. J. Scholtens, Uit het verleden van Midden-Kennermerland (The Hague, 1947), esp. pp. 49–53 and 74–75. Originally under noble ownership, Wijk aan Duin and many other localities came under the domain of the states of Holland and West Friesland between 1722 and 1731.

3 For the role of Haarlem in the development of landscape, see especially Huigen Leeflang, “Het aards paradijs: Het Haarlemse landschap in de 16de en 17de eeuwse literatuur en beeldende kunst,” in K. Levy-Van Halm, ed., De trots van Haarlem: Promotie van een stad in kunst en historie (Haarlem, 1995), which gives extensive further bibliography. For Goltzius’s landscape drawings, see Emil Karel Josef Reznicek, Die Zeichnungen von Hendrick Goltzius (Utrecht, 1961), cat. 400 and especially cats. 404–5. (Jacob Matham has been suggested as the hand behind cat. 405, but even if that is true, the sheet still demonstrates the phenomenon of dune landscape drawing at the beginning of the seventeenth century.) See also Visscher’s Plaisante Plaetsen in and around Haarlem (Hollstein, vol. 38, nos. 149–60, pp. 84–86); for Ruisdael, see Seymour Slive, Jacob van Ruisdael: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings, Drawings, and Etchings (New Haven, CT, and London 2001), esp. cats. 35–72.

4 See Ingrid Oud and Leonoor van Oosterzee, Nederlandse Tekenaars geboren tussen 1660 en 1745. Oude tekeningen in het bezit van het Amsterdams Historisch Museum, waaronder de collectie Fodor, Vol. 5 (Amsterdam and Zwolle, 1999), cat. 41, p. 63, Jacob Cats, Wijk op Zeeër hek (Fig. 1), 1797. Black chalk, graphite, gray and black wash, and white opaque watercolor on blue paper; framing line in black. Amsterdam Museum, TA 18294, inscribed by the artist on verso, “Het Wijk op Zee:ër hek / aan de buijten Zijde / J: Cats del ad viv 1797.” See also Jacob Cats, De Wijk naar Velzen, 1773, sold at Christie’s, Amsterdam, 26 November 1984, lot 163, repr. pl. 44, inscribed by the artist on verso, “van bij de Wijk naar Velzen te zien.”


Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, The Kate, Maurice R. and Melvin R. Seiden Special Purchase Fund in honor of Deborah Loeb Brice
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.

Publication History

  • D. Hannema, Catalogue of the H.E. ten Cate Collection, A. Donker (Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 1955), cat. no. 193, p. 116
  • Neue Lagerliste, auct. cat., C. G. Boerner (Düsseldorf, November 1966), no. 114, repr.
  • Ingrid Oud and Leonoor Van Oosterzee, Nederlandse Tekenaars geboren tussen 1660 en 1745, Waanders Uitgevers (Amsterdam and Zwolle, 1999), under cat. no. 41, p. 63 (n. 3)
  • 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.18, pp. 79-81, repr. p. 80

Exhibition History

  • 32Q: 2300 Dutch & Flemish, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/11/2023 - 01/22/2024

Subjects and Contexts

  • Collection Highlights
  • Google Art Project
  • Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

Verification Level

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