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De maand februari (Vissen)

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In deze tekening heeft Bol bestaande topografische details verwerkt. Op een bevroren gracht buiten de stadswal wordt druk geschaatst. Op de voorgrond staan toeschouwers op een brug. Deze voert naar de stadspoort, die te herkennen is als de bekende Roode Poort in Antwerpen met zijn middeleeuwse toren. Daarachter is de St. Jacobdskerk zichtbaar.

Deze miniatuurtekening is een onderdeel van een set van twaalf maanden, gemaakt als ontwerp voor een prentencyclus, gegraveerd door Adriaen Collaert en uitgegeven door Hans van Luyck.

De maanden zijn te herkennen aan het teken van de dierenriem en de bezigheden die typerend zijn voor de betreffende maand. Ze bevatten allerlei details uit het leven van alledag en getuigen van Bols dubbele talent: als landschapskunstenaar en als 'chroniqueur' van het dagelijks leven.

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Titel De maand februari (Vissen)
Materiaal en techniek Pen in bruine inkt, bruin gewassen, kaderlijn met de pen in bruine inkt, op een rond stuk papier
Tekening > Tweedimensionaal object > Kunstvoorwerp
Locatie Dit object is in het depot
Afmetingen Diameter 140 mm
Makers Tekenaar: Hans Bol
Inventarisnummer MB 2005/T 2 b (PK)
Credits Aankoop met steun van Stichting Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Vereniging Rembrandt, Mondriaan Fonds, Stichting Job Dura Fonds en Cultuurfonds, 2005
Collectie Tekeningen & Prenten
Verwervingsdatum 2005
Vervaardigingsdatum in 1580
Signatuur ‘hans bol / 1580’ gesigneerd en gedateerd (op het bolwerk onder de toren, in pen in bruine inkt)
Watermerk geen (vH, 5P)
Conditie gedoubleerd
Inscripties ‘februarius’ (middenboven, in pen in bruine inkt)
Merkteken geen
Herkomst zie onder inv.nr. MB 2005/T 2 a
Tentoonstellingen Amsterdam/Ontario 1972, nr. 3.; Rotterdam 2004b; Rotterdam 2008 (coll 1 kw 1); Rotterdam 2009 (coll 2 kw 3); Parijs/Rotterdam 2014, nr. 32.2; Washington 2017, nr. #; Rotterdam 2022, nr. 3
Interne tentoonstellingen De Collectie Twee - wissel III, Prenten & Tekeningen (2009)
Het jaar rond met Bol (2004)
Vroege Nederlandse tekeningen - Van Bosch tot Bloemaert (deel 2) (2015)
Externe tentoonstellingen Bosch to Bloemaert. Early Netherlandish Drawings from the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (2014)
Bosch to Bloemaert. Early Netherlandish Drawings (2017)
Onderzoek Toon onderzoek Nederlandse tekeningen uit de vijftiende en zestiende eeuw
Literatuur [de serie:] Hollstein III, 1950, p. 51, onder nrs. 66-77; Hollstein IV, 1951, p. 206, onder nrs. 523-534; New Hollstein 2005-2006, dl. VI, p. 48, onder nrs. 1326-1337; Elen/Van der Coelen 2006, pp. 13-16; Collection Catalogue 2012 (online); Elen 2022, pp. 14-17, ill.
Bruin gewassen > Wassen > Gewassen > Tekentechniek > Techniek > Materiaal en techniek

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Entry bestandscatalogus Vroeg Nederlandse tekeningen uit de 15e en 16e eeuw

Auteur: Albert J. Elen

Deze beschrijving is momenteel alleen beschikbaar in het Engels.

Among the sixteenth-century Netherlandish drawings Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen owns four coherent groups which were made as designs for print series. Groups like these are rather unique as most have not survived or have been dispersed, individual drawings often missing since. These twelve miniature drawings by Hans Bol, which have been kept together in an album and have thus survived complete and in excellent condition, are designs for a series of prints depicting the twelve months, engraved by Adriaen Collaert (ca. 1560-1618) and published by Hans van Luyck in Antwerp around 1580-81.1 The museum owns a complete set of the first edition.

The depiction of the seasons (in series of four) and the months (in series of four, six or twelve) stems from medieval tradition; they are known from calendars in illuminated manuscripts. The genre was made popular by the dissemination of prints after designs by Pieter Bruegel. The artistic merits of the individual drawings in Bol’s series, combining the new landscape vision introduced by Bruegel with a highly accomplished miniature-like technique and great inventiveness, make it a milestone in the history of drawing. Despite their small size—the roundels have a diameter of only 14 cm each and look like miniatures—there is quite a lot to be seen in the carefully executed pen and brown ink drawings. They each show a variety of details from everyday life and bear witness to Bol’s double talent: he was both a landscapist and a ‘chronicler’ of everyday life. He was furthermore a pioneer of town views: some of the places in which the scenes in the twelve drawings are enacted can be identified as Antwerp (February), Brussels (September) and Bergen op Zoom (January).

The months can be identified by the signs of the Zodiac placed at top centre and by the occupations that are characteristic for each month:2 such as celebrating in January and May, skating in February, planting and pruning in March, cultivating the garden in April, shearing sheep in June, harvesting hay and grapes in July-August and September, wine making in October, felling trees and chopping wood in November, slaughtering pigs and processing meat in December.

Seven drawings are dated '1580' (February, May, June, July and September) or '1581' (October and November); all of these, except November are also fully signed. Assuming that the drawings were made in chronological order of the months, it may be concluded that January, March and April were made in 1580 and December in 1581.

In the depictions of the months June, July, August and October the signs of the zodiac were not executed on the sheet itself but each separately on a small circular piece of paper attached to it, probably as corrections. In the engravings – two consecutive months of one copper plate – Collaert has made changes where necessary (September and October), erroneously putting the sign of Pisces upside-down on the February engraving and horizontally mirroring the Cancer image of June. In the consecutively numbered engravings Collaert has added two double cadre Lines around each month, with the name in Latin capitals in between at the top, just above the sign of the zodiac, supplying the first with the names of the designer, engraver and publisher.

The print series served as a source of inspiration to contemporaries, including Bol’s follower Abel Grimmer (1570-1618) from Antwerp, who in 1599 even made a copy of the series in oil on tiny wood panels, of similar dimensions as the prints and in the same direction.3

The Twelve Months theme actually owes its popularity to Hans Bol and his successors. At the end of the sixteenth century the months were depicted in different ways. The landscape etchings with small figures by Peeter van der Borcht are entirely in the spirit of Bol’s series of 1580‑81, whereas Joos de Momper was placing large figures in his foregrounds. The series by Paul Bril (1615) and Jan van de Velde (1616) clearly herald the different ways in which Bol’s example would be followed later. The one chose to depict mountainous landscapes in the Italian manner, whereas the other highlighted the realistic element with lifelike Dutch landscapes. What all the series do however have in common are the signs of the Zodiac in the sky.

The Month February (Pisces )

On a frozen moat outside the city walls people are skating and having fun. In the foreground spectators are standing on a bridge, while workmen are pulling a cart with a barrel on it, and others strolling. As in the drawing of January, Bol has incorporated existing topographical details in here as well. The bridge leads to the city gate, which can be identified as the well-known Roy Poort or Roode Poort (Red Gate) of Antwerp, with its accompanying medieval tower. Behind it, to the right, is the St. Jacobskerk. Bol depicted part of the new city walls with seven bastions finished twenty-five years before, in 1555, surrounding an expanded city holding over a hundred thousand inhabitants, a true megapolis at that time.4 The Roode Poort was one of five new city gates built in Renaissance style and demolished three centuries later, in 1866.5 The overall situation was depicted by Bol around the same time in a panoramic view of Antwerp from the east showing the entire fortified city with ramparts and the bulwarks near the Roode Poort.6

The elevated viewpoint allows for a distant view of the countryside South-West of Antwerp with the river Schelde beyond. Bol was undoubtedly inspired by the print engraved by Frans Huys after a design by Pieter Bruegel, depicting a view of the St. Jorispoort (St. George’s Gate) with bridge and skaters, published by Hiëronymus Cock in Antwerp around 1559-60 (ill. 1).7 Placing the bridge in the foreground, Bol created a convincing and attractive repoussoir, at the same time serving as a stage for depicting daily activities of the inhabitants of this city. The proportions of the figures on the ice are not to scale, but it does not affect the charm of this composition.

This is the design for the second engraving in the series of illustrations of the months by Adriaen Collaert, published by Hans van Luyck (ill. 2).8 Collaert’s print was reproduced, without source reference, in a lithograph titled Stadsgezicht. Van buiten (City view. Outside the walls) in 1863 to illustrate volume V of W.J. Hofdijk’s six-volume publication on the daily pursuits of our predecessors, in this case a short discourse about the Antwerp citadel – which is not depicted – and skating.9

fig. 1 Adriaen Collaert after Hans Bol. The month February (Pisces), c. 1581. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, inv. no. L 1965/114 b

fig. 2 Frans Huys after Pieter Bruegel. Skating before the St George's Gate, Antwerp, Antwerp, c. 1559-1560. Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, inv. no. BdH 8020


1 New Hollstein 2005-06, part VI, pp. 48-56, nos. 1326-1337, illustrated (present in the museum’s collection, two successive months printed together on one sheet of paper, starting with January and February, ending with November and December: inv. no. L 1965/114 a-L).

2 Five years afterwards Bol designed a similar but oblong format series of the Months, with signs of the zodiac and labors of the months, with additional title print (EMBLEMATA EVANGELICA) and including scenes from the Life of Christ, which was likewise engraved by Adriaen Collaert, but published by Egidius Sadeler in 1585; New Hollstein 2005, part II, nos. 225-237, ill., a complete set is in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, inv. no. BdH 10495 BFA 53-10507 BFA 53.

3 In the art trade, see the catalogue of The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF), Maastricht 2010, p. 117, ill.

4 The number dropped after the fall of the city in 1584; ten years later less than 50.000 inhabitants remained.

5 The gate, bastion and bridge are clearly indicated on the coloured map of Antwerp by Claes Janszoon Visscher, Marchionatus Sacri Romani Imperii, published in 1624 (on the map at upper left, an oblong frontal view of the city wall, viewed from the East, in the margin at the bottom, centre left).

6 Oxford, Ashmolean Museum; Franz 1965, p. 63, no. 106, pl. 91.

7 New Hollstein 2006, no. 41, ill., a copy is in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, inv. BdH 8020.

8 New Hollstein 2005-06, part VI, p. 48, no. 1327, ill. on p. 51 (present in the museum’s collection, printed on one sheet of paper with January: inv. no. L 1965/114 b).

9 W.J. Hofdijk, Ons voorgeslacht in zijn dagelyksch leven geschilderd, Haarlem 1863, vol. 5, opposite p. 299, pl. 22.

Toon onderzoek Nederlandse tekeningen uit de vijftiende en zestiende eeuw
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Hans Bol

Mechelen 1534 - Amsterdam 1593

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