Shepherds and flocks fording a river


Adriaen van de VELDE

Amsterdam 1636 – 1672 Amsterdam

Shepherds and flocks fording a river

Brush in gray ink over black chalk; brown ink framing lines.

139 x 175 mm (5-1/2 x 6-7/8 in).

WATERMARK: horn in cartouche with letters DD below,

similar to Heawood nos. 2668-71 (c. 1665-80). (R33)

CHAIN LINES: horizontal, 24-25 mm.
PROVENANCE: Dionis Muilman (see L. 1420), probably his sale, Amsterdam, de Bosch, Ploos van Amstel, de Winter, 29 March 1773 (and the following days), lot 1119.

John Barnard (L. 1419-20 on mount J:B. No: 950/ 7×5½/ From the Collection of Mr. Muilman), his sale, London, Greenwood, 22 February 1787, lot 55.

C. Duits, London.

H. R. Bijl, his sale, Amsterdam, Sotheby’s, 17 November 1993, lot 58, 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.

Adriaen van de Velde’s paintings are unusual in 17th century art in that they are intensely controlled and calculated; even in relatively small compositions, he analyzes the various elements of the composition, as well as the space and light and shadow, in order to create an aura of order and equilibrium.  The end result is a series of paintings of shepherds and peasants in the 1660s and 1670s that managed to recreate in contemporary Dutch terms the timeless Arcadian world of the Italian and French baroque that he saw firsthand when he worked in Rome in 1653-56.

The present drawing is an example of Adriaen’s style at its loosest and freshest; using just a few strokes of black chalk as a guide, the artist has defined all the forms by wash, instead of pen.  Similar tours de force by Adriaen are in the St. Annen-Museum, Lübeck, and the Michaelis Collection, National Museum, Capetown.