Adriaen van de Velde, Study of a Cavalier on Horseback, a red chalk drawing

The Netherlands, around AD 1660

Adriaen Van de Velde (1636-1672) made his numerous red chalk figure studies from models posed in his studio. The drawings then became stock motifs from which he could take figures for his paintings.

The main study is of a cavalier, his sword in his right hand, his pistol in a holster in front of him. Though apparently sitting on a horse, only the man is drawn. The shading is varied with light parallel lines made more intense where necessary with further, stronger red chalk lines. The long flowing lines around his waist contrast with the shorter shaded strokes. The effect of light is achieved by the areas of totally blank paper. The strength of the light especially on the cavalier's face, and its dramatic contrast with the shadows on the body, lends this sketch an Italianate quality. The second figure, below, is also a soldier and like the upper study, he stands out in relief against a background of parallel hatching.

Adriaen was the son and brother of two famous marine painters. He spent most of his life in Amsterdam but he may have studied with Jan Wijnants (around 1635-84) in Haarlem. He may also have been a pupil of his father, Willem van de Velde the Elder (1611-93). His subject-matter suggests that he may have visited Italy, like many Netherlandish artists. However, no record of such a journey exists. Most of his paintings, drawings and etchings are varied in subject, from religious and narrative themes to landscapes, portraits and everyday settings. This drawing is not connected with a known painting.

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More information


M. Royalton-Kisch, H. Chapman and S. Coppel, Old Master drawings from the M, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1996)


Height: 288.000 mm
Width: 195.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1895-9-15-1330



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