Hendrik Goltzius, Self-portrait, a drawing

The Netherlands, around AD 1589

The medium used for this fine drawing is the traditional Renaissance technique of silverpoint. Furthermore, it is drawn on vellum (calf skin) like many early Renaissance drawings. Goltzius created something of a revival of this medium, inspired by Renaissance artists, including Albrecht Dürer in particular.

Goltzius lived in Haarlem in 1576-7 and was a leading figure in late sixteenth-century Netherlandish art. Until around 1600, he concentrated exclusively on drawing and printmaking. He travelled to Italy in 1590-91, going in disguise to avoid unwelcome obligations, as he was already famous. After 1600 Goltzius stopped engraving and became a full-time painter, continuing with drawing as a secondary activity.

This is one of his most highly finished drawings. He shows himself in fine costume, a hat and wide ruff. In his hands are probably a copper plate and a burin, a tool used for engraving. He looks out at the viewer with confidence, as if he is fully aware of his international reputation with patrons and artists alike. In the upper left corner is his monogram: HG.

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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: 146.000 mm
Width: 104.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1895-9-15-1020



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