Dutch Drawings

  • pen and ink drawing of harbor with massive sculpted monument of mythical figure

    Maerten van Heemskerck (1498–1574)
    Colossus of Rhodes
    Pen and brown ink, contours incised for transfer
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Witt Bequest, 1952

    The Colossus of Rhodes was constructed in the third century BC and represented the gilded sun god Helios. Heemskerck has followed later tradition in depicting the massive bronze figure straddling the entrance to the city's harbor. In the foreground, an architect crowned with laurels studies a sketch and supervises a team of craftsmen. This drawing was made as a design for a print.

  • chalk and ink drawing of man and woman seated with skeleton and winged figure

    Abraham Bloemaert (1566–1651)
    Death and the Lovers
    c. 1620–30
    Black chalk, pen, and brown ink, brown and red washes, traces of white gouache
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Witt Bequest, 1952

    This moralizing drawing, finished to a high degree with lavish washes, shows a soldier seducing a young woman. Distracted by her sensuousness, he is unaware of the skeletal legs beneath her skirt and of the figure of Death poised to strike with his arrow. A devil hovers above ready to claim his soul. The hourglass, lute, and mirror further underscore the brevity and vanity of mortal life.

  • pen and ink drawing of church interior, with pillars and arches

    Pieter Saenredam (1597–1665)
    The South Ambulatory of St. Bavokerk, Haarlem
    Pen and brown ink with gray wash, heightened with white gouache, on blue paper
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Witt Bequest, 1952

    Saenredam planned his many paintings of church interiors in drawings, usually beginning with a freehand sketch. This characteristic example presents the south ambulatory of Haarlem's gothic church viewed from the central crossing of the nave. Using the blue paper as a midtone, the artist adds touches of white to capture the play of light on the bare stone surfaces. He includes a single figure to convey the scale of the imposing space.

  • red chalk drawing of woman and child

    Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669)
    Saskia(?) Sitting Up in Bed, Holding a Child
    c. 1635
    Red chalk
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Princes Gate Bequest, 1978

    This sketch of a mother glimpsed from behind bed curtains cradling a newborn child almost certainly depicts the artist's wife, Saskia, probably with the couple's firstborn son, Rumbartus, who died in infancy. Rembrandt frequently drew such intimate scenes of daily life as reference material for his paintings and prints. The rapid strokes of soft red chalk suggest the spontaneity with which he recorded this tender moment.

  • black ink drawing of two men in hats, one gesturing with hand

    Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669)
    Two Men in Discussion
    Quill and reed pen in brown ink, with corrections in white gouache
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Princes Gate Bequest, 1978

    In this sheet Rembrandt uses both a quill and a reed pen, reworking the finer, fluid lines of the former with the thicker, heavier strokes of the latter. The combination lends weight to the figures and a greater intensity of light and shadow. The vaguely exotic costumes worn by the figures could have been inspired by fantasy or by the attire of the many foreign merchants residing in seventeenth-century Amsterdam.

  • red and black chalk drawing of landscape with wooden fence

    Pieter de Molyn (1595–1661)
    Landscape with Travelers on a Road
    Red chalk over black chalk, with gray and brown wash
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Witt Bequest, 1952

    This signed sheet, most likely conceived as an independent work, presents a landscape typical of the environs of Haarlem. The distinctly Dutch setting is marked by a winding country road leading travelers to the nearby dunes that define the region's coastline. Combining red and black chalk with pale wash, Molyn explores the possibilities for rendering light and shadow in a limited color palette.

  • pen and ink drawing of farm with tractor and field

    Vincent van Gogh (1853–90)
    A Tile Factory
    Pen and brown ink over graphite
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Courtauld Bequest, 1948

    Van Gogh made this drawing of a tile factory at the edge of a plowed field during his sojourn in Arles in 1888. Using reed pens of varying thickness, he rendered the scene with a wide range of marks similar to those used in his paintings, from short flecks suggesting leaves or stubble in the foreground to thinner lines denoting the factory roof. A grid, drawn in pencil, is faintly visible underneath the ink and probably was used by the artist to establish the perspective.

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