Auteur: Albert J. Elen
Deze beschrijving is momenteel alleen beschikbaar in het Engels.
This sheet and another one by the artist, also from the Koenigs Collection (inv. no. H 242, ill. 1)1, belong to a group of typical studies of picturesque rural scenes—generally farms, peasant cottages, dilapidated and ruined buildings, sheds and dovecots, as well as crops and ordinary utensils, in short everything that attracted Bloemaert’s attention—made during wanderings in the surroundings of Utrecht. Van Mander explicitly mentions the popularity of this kind of landscape drawings with art lovers, “for he does a great deal from life and he has a very clever manner of drawing and penmanship to which he then adds some watercolours so that it looks particularly good”.2 Bloemaert started making this kind of drawings early on in his career.3 The subject may have been summarily sketched at the spot in black chalk to be worked up afterwards with the brush and colored washes in the studio.
Bolten has compiled a group of over fifty of landscape studies, made between Bloemaert’s return from Paris in 1583 and 1591, which the young artist himself executed in a sketch-book or on single sheets kept together in a portfolio, the remainder of which is now for the most part in the Berlin print room and is therefore called the Berlin Album.4 This volume and others with drawings of different types of subject-matter, which have not come down to us or only partially as scattered sheets, became part of the workshop stock of motifs, of which Bloemaert availed himself whenever needed, for example for choosing a rural setting for depicting a biblical subject, either in a painting or a print.5
The Rotterdam drawing, however, was not part of the Berlin Album; the more consistent and accomplished drawing style indicates that it was made later when Bloemaert was in his thirties. It relates to several prints in the Farmhouse and Landscape series, engraved by Boëtius à Bolswert after designs by Bloemaert and issued by Cornelis Dankerts in Amsterdam in 1614.6 One particular motif in the Rotterdam drawing, the small thatched shed to the left, recurs in two picture drawings of a farmhouse.7 The barn on the reverse is very similar to the one in the background of the print The Parable of the Tares, engraved by Jacob Matham after a design by Bloemaert, and dated 1605.8
Recently, the backing paper was removed and the hidden drawing on the reverse was revealed. The verso drawing is the top half of a larger composition of a similar subject which was discarded and the sheet of paper cut in halves or perhaps even quarters to be reused on the reverse sides.9 This might explain the unusual landscape format of the present drawing, which may even have been larger at the right end, where the edge of a roof is visible (and on the verso the left half of a hay-stack which also seems to have been larger). Why Bloemaert gave up a highly finished drawing with brown and colour washes, which he could also have sold, is unknown. Perhaps it was spoiled by accident in the workshop. Another possibility, which seems more likely, may be that a large double-sided drawing—the present verso in it original state—was sacrificed by a collector or dealer (to raise the market value) in order to isolate two or more smaller but equally nice drawings on the reverse side of the sheet, one of which is our present recto.