Pulling-the-goose at a village fair


Alkmaar 1621 – 1675 Amsterdam

Pulling-the-goose at a village fair

Pen and brush in brown ink over traces of black chalk; brown ink and graphite framing lines.

103 x 93 mm (4-1/8 x 3-5/8 in).

WATERMARK: none. (R7)
CHAIN LINES: vertical, 25, 28, 24 mm.
INSCRIPTIONS: monogrammed AVE at lower right (pen in brown ink).
PROVENANCE: From an early 19th century album in an English collection.

Sale, Amsterdam, Christie’s, 22 November 1982, lot 168, 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.

Allart van Everdingen occupies a special place in the history of 17th century Dutch landscape painting and drawing.  A student of Roelant Savery in Utrecht and then Pieter Molyn in Haarlem, he traveled in the early 1640s to Norway and Sweden, where he was deeply impressed by the dramatic waterfalls, steep cliffs, massive boulders, towering fir trees, and crude huts he encountered there. Jacob van Ruisdael became acquainted with the Scandinavian landscape through van Everdingen’s paintings, and it became an essential part of his conception of nature, the power of earth, wind, and weather dwarfing man and his works and catching them up in an eternal cycle of decay and rebirth.

Only a minority of van Everdingen’s drawings and watercolors refers to his northern travels;  rather, most, in the spirit of Jan van Goyen, are a delightful record of Dutch life in the third quarter of the 17th century, remarkable for their quantity (many hundreds have survived) and, in general, their small size.  Clearly, there was a market among connoisseurs for these small sheets, sometimes only three or four inches wide. Many of these little drawings have borders put in by the artist himself, who also often signed or monogrammed them.  There is no sign that the works were meant to be exhibited in the modern sense of the word;  that is, they were not pasted or pinned to another surface, but rather kept in the collectors’ kunstboeken for occasional enjoyment.

The present drawing is an example of his looser, more open style, to be found in dozens of his works.  Pulling the goose (which hangs from a rope above the road) was a fairly common subject in Dutch art, as early as David Vinckboons, as well as in such contemporaries as Salomon van Ruysdael and Pieter Molyn, his teacher.  It is fascinating, also, to see the market for an artist’s work divide along the lines of subject and medium:  paintings, with Scandinavian landscapes, and works on paper, with all subjects, especially the Dutch scene.

This drawing may be one of a series representing the months and seasons.  According to Alice Davies [letter, 1988], another Everdingen drawing of comparable size could be part of the same series (Fogg Museum, inv. no. 403.1922, “Peasants reaping hay,” 102 x 102 mm).  Davies further points out that the present drawing is “similar in size and medium to the atypical Kansas set (see Davies 1972).  It is tempting to try to match them up with a selection of Kansas months and to form a second set using the two sheets at Hamburg (Davies 1972, figs. 33, 34).”