Italian courtyard


Thomas WYCK

Beverwijk c. 1616 – 1677 Haarlem

Italian courtyard

Brush in gray ink, pen in light brown ink, with traces of graphite; brown-gray ink framing lines.

172 x 194 mm (6-3/4 x 7-5/8 in).

WATERMARK: fragment, Strasbourg lily with letters WR below, at upper center,

similar to Heawood no. 1730 (Amsterdam, dated 1646); Ash and Fletcher 1998, variant G.c., pp. 185, 205 (dated 1648). (R40)

CHAIN LINES: vertical, 25-26 mm.
INSCRIPTIONS: verso, at lower left No1473 (pen in black ink, crossed-out) and above N3998 (pen in black ink, in the hand of J. Goll van Franckenstein).
PROVENANCE: Jonkeer Johann Goll van Franckenstein, 1722-1785 (L. 2987), his sale, Amsterdam, de Vries et al., 1 July 1833, lot D20.

W. van Dalfsen (his monogram “WVD” on recto, lower left, not in Lugt)

Sale, Amsterdam, Sotheby Mak van Waay, 18 November 1985, lot 44.

Sale, Amsterdam, Sotheby’s, 12 November 1991, lot 129, acquired at the sale.

EXHIBITIONS: 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.

Thomas Wyck spent most of his life in Haarlem, but traveled to England and Scotland in the 1660s and, before that, to Italy.  It was the trip south that changed his artistic vision forever.  Although he does a number of paintings of alchemists in their laboratories, his favorite subject is Italy, harbors with “Orientals” on the docks, peasants among ancient ruins, and, above all, scruffy, picturesque courtyards, empty except, on occasion, for a traveler dozing in the late afternoon sunlight.

The present drawing is typical of Wyck in its mixture of architectural elements, the three arches in a row, two filled in, the slits to the right (in a city wall?), and the vegetation growing out of the stonework.  The same love of overlapping and juxtaposed arches and curves, verticals, and horizontals, in the doorways, barrels, and lattice, and the fall of light and shadow over them, can be seen in many other of the artist’s drawings, for example, in the Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam, and the painting for which it was the preparatory study (formerly A. Schloss, Paris).  An unusual aspect of the present drawing is the treatment of the tightly drawn, highly finished figures.

Not only did Wyck himself repeat the same courtyard, for example, in drawings in the Morgan Library, Groningen, Amsterdam, Dijon, Haarlem, and Brussels; other Italianate Dutch artists, such as Willem Schellinks and Jan Asselijn, were attracted to the subject, and Jan Vincentsz van der Vinne (brother of Laurens) made an etching in 1686 that is very similar in subject to the present drawing.