Ruins of the castle of Brederode



Leiden 1607 – 1674 Amsterdam

Ruins of the castle of Brederode

Pen in brown ink; brown ink framing lines.

292 x 383 mm (11-1/2 x 15 in).          1118 cm2

WATERMARK: fool’s cap with seven bells and countermark PP,

similar to Ash and Fletcher 1998, variant C.a., pp. 111, 116 (dated 1645); Broos and Schapelhouman 1993, cat. no. 107, p. 284 (no date); Heawood nos. 1989 (Dutch, dated 1637) and 1990 (Dutch, c. 1655). (R18)

CHAIN LINES: vertical, 24 mm.
INSCRIPTIONS: verso, at center right slot te breederoo 3 guilden (pen in brown ink, 17th century); at lower right 140 (pencil).
PROVENANCE: H. M. Montauban van Swijndregt (1841-1929), Rotterdam, his sale, Amsterdam, R.W.P. de Vries, 5 April 1906, lot 115.

Sale, Amsterdam, R.W.P. de Vries, 4 March 1930, lot 182.

H. C. Valkema Blouw (1883-1953), his sale, Amsterdam, F. Muller, 2-4 March 1954, lot 266.

Bernard Houthakker, Amsterdam (L.1272), his sale, Amsterdam, Sotheby Mak van Waay, 17-18 November 1975, lot 42.

Th. Laurentius, Voorschoten, 1975.

F. W. A. Knight, his sale, Amsterdam, Sotheby Mak van Waay, 29 October 1979, lot 29, acquired at the sale.

LITERATURE: Schneider 1973, pp. 218, 366, no. Z.185.

Kloek 1990, p. 85, fig. 134.


EXHIBITIONS: Cat. Amsterdam 1954, no. 34, (illus.).

Cat. Amsterdam 1956, no. 67.

Cat. Amsterdam 1964, no. 52, fig. 20.

Robinson, Franklin W. and Peck, Sheldon. Fresh Woods and Pastures New: Seventeenth-Century Dutch Landscape Drawings from the Peck Collection. Chapel Hill/ Ithaca/ Worcester. 1999-2001. Published catalogue.

The castle of Brederode, north of Haarlem, inspired feelings of Dutch pride, as well as being unusually evocative in its ruins and overgrown vegetation.  This drawing may had been made in the 1650s or 1660s, at about the time Jacob van Ruisdael also was painting this site.

This view presents a decidedly unusual view of the castle: up close and from below, at an oblique angle that avoids the more famous views from the side.  This decision was surely conscious; this surprising approach may have made the work more interesting and easier to sell.  Lievens has constructed the composition brilliantly, beginning in the foreground right, with low, heavy ruins, overgrown with vegetation, in the tightest, heaviest strokes in the blackest ink.  Then, the familiar ruins rise up in the middle ground, catching the sunlight, and finally, our eye drops down to the lovely copse of trees, half in shadow, quickly noted in long, energetic strokes, and reflected in a pool of water.

Jan Lievens is famous for his close association with Rembrandt in the late 1620s (they were also both students of Pieter Lastman);  he later traveled to England, then Antwerp, finally settling in Amsterdam.  Powerful though his paintings can be, it is in his drawings, perhaps, that he found his most original and masterful expression;  his landscapes in particular take on a Flemish, Rubensian cast that fuse with their Dutch specificity of site to produce sheets of great freshness and immediacy.