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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Abraham Bloemaert, Dutch (Gorinchem, Netherlands 1566 - 1651 Utrecht, Netherlands)
Street along a Village Wall
Work Type
c. 1630-1640
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Brown ink and brown, red, and green washes over black chalk on cream antique laid paper
16.5 × 21.3 cm (6 1/2 × 8 3/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • collector's mark: verso, lower center, black ink, stamp: L. 2926 (Rudolf Philip Goldschmidt)
  • collector's mark: verso, upper right, purple ink, stamp: L. 1758 (Freiherr Reinhold von Liphart)
  • collector's mark: verso, lower center, black ink, stamp: L. 1687 (Karl Eduard von Liphart)
  • inscription: verso, lower left, brown ink, pen, Dutch: L. 3002-3004 (Cornelis Ploos van Amstel): h. 6 1/2 d / b. 8 1/2 d / Ab: Bloemaert f. / geboore Gorkum 1564 / gestorven Utrecht 1654
  • watermark: Pro Patria? with letters IM or MI
  • inscription: lower right, brown ink: Abm: Bloemaert.
  • inscription: verso, lower left, brown ink: fha-
  • inscription: verso, upper left, brown ink: 12x1/2 npt [underlined]
  • inscription: verso, lower center, graphite: 40942
  • inscription: verso, lower right, graphite: [erased, illegible] / 15
  • inscription: verso, lower left, graphite: [illegible symbol] 20.100
  • inscription: verso, lower center, graphite: 651/1... [illegible]


Recorded Ownership History
Possibly Isaac Walraven, Amsterdam, sold through [De Winter, Yver, Amsterdam, 14 October 1765, lot 562]. Cornelis Ploos van Amstel, Amsterdam (L. 3002-3004 with his mark). Karl Eduard von Liphart, Dorpat, Bonn and Florence (L. 1687 with his mark), bequest, to Freiherr Reinhold von Liphart, Rathshof near Dorpat, Russia (L. 1758 with his mark), sold through [C. G. Boerner, Leipzig, 26 April 1898, lot 101]; to Meder. Rudolf Philip Goldschmidt, Berlin (L. 2926, with his mark), sold through [F.A.C. Prestell, Frankfurt am Main, 4-11 October 1917, lot 46]. [Karl Ernst Henrici, Berlin, 29 May 1918, lot 68]. H. Deiker, Braunfels. [Klipstein and Kornfeld, Bern], sold; to Dr. and Mrs. George C. Shattuck, Brookline, MA, 1961, gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1961.

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 Austeja Mackelaite, completed February 21, 2021:

Bloemaert was renowned among his contemporaries for his interest in sketching “a great deal after life,” and for exploring aspects of the local scenery “which are to be seen in great variety round about Utrecht.”1 Nevertheless, very few—under 20—landscapes by the artist include sites or landmarks that can still be recognized today. The distinctive urban architecture seen in the Harvard sheet has allowed scholars to identify the subject of the drawing as Montfoort, a small but picturesque Dutch town located along the Hollandse Ijssel river, in the province of Utrecht.2 Throughout the 17th century, Dutch artists, including Jan van Goyen, Nicolaes Berchem, Roelant Roghman, and Pieter Mulier the Younger, traveled to Montfoort to sketch its old city gates, defensive walls overgrown with vegetation, and the medieval towers of Montfoort Castle.3 While most of these drawings offer relatively distant views of the town, often seen across a body of water, Bloemaert’s closely cropped composition is a more intimate portrayal of a bumpy village street, which extends into the distance, framed by the defensive wall at right and a fenced haystack with trees at left. He rendered the scene in rhythmic strokes of pen and embellished it with pale, transparent watercolors in brown, rose, and green.

The identification of the locale rests on the resemblance between architectural elements visible in Bloemaert’s work with those seen in a slightly later sheet by another Utrecht-based draftsman, Herman Saftleven (Fig. 1).4 Inscribed “te Montfoort” at top center and approaching the street from an almost identical position, Saftleven’s drawing includes a number of structures that can be recognized in Bloemaert’s sheet, such as the tall building with a gable roof and a turret—most probably a city gate—in the background, a small passage with arches, seen in the middle ground, and a round, partially damaged tower, topped with a chimney, at far right.5 It is notable that the same city gate, seen from a different side, appears in another drawing by Bloemaert, stylistically related to the naer het leven (“from life”) experiments of the so-called Berlin Album, produced sometime between 1585 and 1590.6 Since the Harvard sheet (datable to 1630–40) belongs to the mature stage of the artist’s career, it is likely that Bloemaert either returned to Montfoort at this later time or reused naer het leven studies from his youth when composing this highly finished drawing.7 The figure of the peasant seated on a wheelbarrow at left foreground, which helps further animate the composition, was probably also derived from a now-lost life study. A comparable figure of a young man in a hat on a wheelbarrow appears in a drawing at the Hermitage Museum.8


1 Karel van Mander, Het Schilder-boeck (Haarlem: Paschier van Wesbusch, 1604), fol. 298r: “By den Const-beminders zijn oock van hem seer aerdighe Landtschappen, met eenighe aerdighe en drollighe Boeren huysen, Boerigh ghereetschap, boomen, en gronden, dinghen die daer om Wtrecht seer veel en verscheyden te sien, en van hem gheconterfeyt zijn . . .” Translation from Karel van Mander, The Lives of Illustrious Netherlandish and German Painters, from the First Edition of the Schilder-boeck (1603–1604), ed. and trans. Hessel Miedema (Doornspijk: Davaco, 1994–99), vol. 1, p. 450.

2 As first identified in Jaap Bolten, Abraham Bloemaert, c. 1565–1651: The Drawings (Leiden: [Privately printed], 2007), vol. 1, no. 1551, p. 455. For other sheets by Bloemaert that might depict sights in Montfoort, see nos. 1352, 1398, 1477–1479, 1541.

3 An Zwollo, “Pieter Mulier de Jonge, alias Tempesta, werkzaam als tekenaar in Haarlem, Montfoort, Brussel, Bronnbach en Rome,” Delineavit et Sculpsit 26 (2003): 22–29; Annemarie Stefes, “Anmerkungen zu den Montfoort-Zeichnungen Nicolaes Berchems,” Delineavit et Sculpsit 31 (2007): 37–42.

4 Herman Saftleven, View in Montfoort, black chalk and light yellow-gray wash; framing line in brown ink, 34.5 × 29.3 cm, New York, The Morgan Library & Museum, 1958.19; Jane Shoaf Turner, with contributions by Felice Stampfle, Dutch Drawings in the Pierpont Morgan Library: Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries (New York: Pierpont Morgan Library, 2006), no. 275, pp. 181–82.

5 Based on comparisons with structures seen in drawings by Berchem and Mulier the Younger, An Zwollo tentatively identified the gate in Saftleven’s drawing as the Heeswijkerpoort; Zwollo, “Pieter Mulier de Jonge, alias Tempesta,” p. 28. We know that the Spanish army damaged and destroyed much of Montfoort’s defensive wall in 1577, which might account for the dilapidated appearance of these structures.

6 Abraham Bloemaert, A City Gate with Several Annexes [Montfoort?], brown ink and colored washes over black chalk, 19 × 15.5 cm, Brussels, private collection; Bolten, Abraham Bloemaert, c. 1565–1651, vol. 1, no. 1398, p. 414; Jaap Bolten, “The Drawings of Abraham Bloemaert: A Supplement,” Master Drawings 55 (1) (2017): no. 1398, p. 96.

7 Although Bolten had initially dated the Harvard drawing to 1595–1605, he accepted the later date of 1630–40 in the 2017 supplement; Bolten, “The Drawings of Abraham Bloemaert,” p. 107. For an example of the artist reusing drawings decades later, see the catalogue entry for Bloemaert’s Dilapidated Farmhouse (1999.130) in 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), pp. 49–51. No early naer het leven studies related to the present sheet survive today.

8 Abraham Bloemaert, Four Standing and Sitting Figures and A Hay-stack with a Fence (verso), black chalk and brown ink with brown wash, 15.5 × 18.5 cm, St. Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum, 25 308verso; Bolten, Abraham Bloemaert, c. 1565–1651, vol. 1, no. 1004. It is notable that the Hermitage drawing also includes a black chalk study of a haystack behind a wooden fence, further connecting it with the Harvard sheet, which includes a fragment of this motif at left.


Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. George C. Shattuck
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • Konrad Oberhuber, European Master Drawings of Six Centuries from the Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., National Museum of Western Art (Tokyo, 1979), cat. no. 48, n.p., repr. pl. 48
  • Jaap Bolten, Abraham Bloemaert, c. 1565-1651: The Drawings (Netherlands, 2007), vol. 1, cat. no. 1551, p. 455, under cat. no. 1398, p. 414, repr. vol. 2, p. 464
  • Jaap Bolten, The Drawings of Abraham Bloemaert: A Supplement, Master Drawings (New York, 2017), vol. 55, no. 1, pp. 3-120, cat. no. 1551, p. 107, fig. 350

Exhibition History

  • European Master Drawing of Six Centuries from the Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 11/03/1979 - 12/16/1979
  • 32Q: 2300 Dutch & Flemish, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 07/19/2016 - 11/08/2016

Subjects and Contexts

  • Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

Verification Level

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