Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Hans Bol, Netherlandish (Mechelen, Belgium 1534 - 1593 Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Christ Calling Saint Peter
Work Type
album page, drawing
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Brown ink and brown and gray wash with incidental green wash at lower center, incised, on cream antique laid paper, double framing line in brown ink at left and right edges, mounted on album leaf
16.2 x 23.8 cm (6 3/8 x 9 3/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: Signed, upper center, brown ink: Hans bol / 1576
  • watermark: none visible
[Christie's Amsterdam, 30 November 1987, lot 6], sold; to Melvin R. Seiden; to Harvard University Art Museum on long term loan, 1988; sold, to Harvard University Art Museum, 1993; The Kate, Maurice R. and Melvin R. Seiden Purchase Fund and Richard Norton Memorial Fund, 1993.165.
Published Text
Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: The Complete Collection Online
Multiple authors
Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2017–)

Entry by William W. Robinson, completed March 07, 2019:

Hans Bol’s drawing Christ Calling Saint Peter is preserved in an album in a plain vellum binding of the late 16th or 17th century (1993.165–M22249). The album includes 97 prints and 8 drawings: the sheets with printed images had been trimmed to a uniform size and bound directly into the album, while the drawings were mounted to blank leaves of the same trim size. The prints, all issued by Antwerp publishers between 1562 and about 1600, comprise five complete sets that depict landscapes, birds, Old Testament scenes, mythological subjects, and architectural perspectives.1 In addition to Christ Calling Saint Peter, drawings in the album include five landscapes and village scenes (1993.166, 1993.167, 1993.168, 1993.169, 1993.170) attributed to a close follower of Bol, which served as models for engravings in Hans Collaert I’s Views of the Environs of Brussels, one of the print series bound in the volume. The two other drawings, a village landscape (1993.171) and an allegorical composition (1993.172), are by different, unidentified hands.2 Preserved between the album’s pages since the 17th century, never remounted and seldom exposed to light, Christ Calling Saint Peter is in remarkably pristine condition.

Bol was a productive printmaker and designer of prints, particularly during the years he spent in Antwerp before immigrating to Holland in 1584. Christ Calling Saint Peter, with its neatly finished composition and meticulously described details, resembles his many surviving drawings that served as models for etchings and engravings issued by Antwerp’s prolific publishers.3 Some of the outlines of the composition have been incised with a stylus, usually an indication that the design was transferred to a copper plate to be engraved. Yet no print after this drawing has come to light. Stefaan Hautekeete has noted that some of Bol’s print publishing projects were either never realized or not as originally envisioned. He has also identified examples of finished compositions that appear to be models for prints but were never engraved or were engraved years after the date inscribed on the artist’s drawing. Hautekeete suggested that Bol produced some designs without a specific commission, intending to offer them for sale to publishers or collectors.4

Bol’s drawing illustrates the account of Christ calling Peter as related in the gospel of Luke (5:1–11). After preaching from Peter’s boat on the shore of the Lake of Gennesaret, Jesus told Peter and his fishing partners John and James to put out and cast their nets. Although they had not caught anything the night before, the haul was so prodigious that their nets ripped and the boats began to sink. Astonished by the miraculous draft of fishes, Peter “fell down at Christ’s knees.” Jesus said to him: “Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” When Peter, James, and John “had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.”

Bol represented Christ calling Peter in three other drawings, dated 1571, 1573, and 1585, none of which was engraved, and in two prints, published in 1574 and 1580, for which no model drawings have survived.5 The two prints and the drawings of 1571 and 1573 include, like the Harvard composition, the figure of Peter wading ashore to prostrate himself at Christ’s feet. In the 1585 drawing in Brussels, Peter remains in the boat with James and John. Here Bol followed the texts of Matthew (4:18–22) and Mark (1:16–18), which do not mention the miraculous catch or Peter leaving the boat. Hautekeete observed that in the print dated 1580, Bol adapted the smoking lighthouse and the winding waterway with promontories and urban structures from the background of the Harvard drawing.6


1 Adriaen Collaert, Avium vivae icones (M22153–M22168, for this range of the album, and as below, see 1993.165–M22249): Ann Diels and Marjolein Leesberg in New Hollstein, The Collaert Dynasty, part 6, nos. 1404–35, pp. 124–47; dated to the late 1590s by Ann Diels, De Familie Collaert (ca. 1555–1630) en de prentkunst in Antwerpen (Brussels: Archief- en Bibliotheekwezen in België, 2010), pp. 167 and 220. Philips Galle, after Maarten van Heemskerck, Disasters of the Jewish People (M22169–M22190): Manfred Sellink and Marjolein Leesberg in New Hollstein, Philips Galle, part 1, nos. 103–24, pp. 152–79. Johannes Sadeler I, Mythological Scenes in a Landscape (M22191–M22196): Karel Boon and Dieuwke de Hoop Scheffer in Hollstein 21, nos. 480-85, pp. 161-62. Hans Collaert I, Views of the Environs of Brussels (M22197–M22220): Diels and Leesberg in New Hollstein, The Collaert Dynasty, part 5, nos. 1229–52, pp. 216–32. Joannes and Lucas van Doetecum, after Hans Vredeman de Vries, Small Architectural Perspective Views (M22221–M22249): Peter Fuhring in New Hollstein, The Van Doetecum Family, part 2, nos. 255–82, pp. 80–100.

2 For the drawings related to the series Views of the Environs of Brussels, see William W. Robinson with Susan Anderson, Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Art Museums, 2016), cat. 11, pp. 58–60, and Stijn Alsteens’s review of Robinson and Anderson in Master Drawings 53 (4) (2015): 533.

3 For example, see 1941.14, 1941.15, and Stefaan Hautekeete in New Hollstein, Hans Bol, part 1, Fig. 60. (The Harvard Art Museums own a preliminary sketch of this figure 1994.156.)

4 Hautekeete in New Hollstein, Hans Bol, part 1, pp. lxx, lxxv, lxxix, lxxxi.

5 Drawings are in the British Museum, London, 1946,0713.962, dated 1571; Museum Plantin Moretus-Stedelijk Prentenkabinet, Antwerp, 2235, dated 1573; Royal Library, long-term loan from the King Baudouin Foundation, Brussels, F-2014-53-FRB-KBS/11, dated 1585. The prints are an etching by Bol in the series Libellus varios Regionum Tractus Continens (see Ursula Mielke with contributions by Stefaan Hautekeete in New Hollstein, Hans Bol, part 1, no. 118) and an engraving by an unidentified printmaker (Johannes Sadeler I?) in a series of landscapes with Old and New Testament scenes (see Mielke with Hautekeete in New Hollstein, Hans Bol, part 1, no. 96). My thanks to Stefaan Hautekeete for the references to all these works (in an email to the author, September 5, 2018).

6 Email to the author, September 5, 2018.

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, The Kate, Maurice R. and Melvin R. Seiden Purchase Fund and Richard Norton Memorial Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Heinrich Gerhard Franz, "Hans Bol (1534 - 1593); Entwurfs-Zeichnungen zur grossen Landschaftsfolge von 1562", Die Weltkunst (January 15, 1988), vol. 58, no. 2, pp. 100-104, p. 102, repr. fig. 7

Carl Depauw, “Een tekening van Hans Bol voor het Stedelijk Prentenkabinet van Antwerpen”, Antwerpen: Tijdschrift der stad Antwerpen (1990), vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 5-12

Kristina Hartzer Nguyen, The Made Landscape: City and Country in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Prints, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, Fall 1992), p. 15

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), p. 18, repr. p. 19, fig. 9; p. 58

Exhibition History

Collecting for Harvard: Works Acquired through the Generosity of Melvin R. Seiden, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 07/03/1993 - 08/15/1993

Subjects and Contexts

Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

Related Works

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