View of Bethlehem, pen drawing by Jan van Scorel

Bethlehem, modern Palestinian Authority, probably AD 1520

This view was made by the artist when he visited Bethlehem, probably during the summer of 1520. At the top of the sheet is written bethleen (Bethlehem) and on the right 'ecclesia nicolai' (church of St Nicholas). On the left is the Convent of the Nativity built over the site where, according to tradition, Jesus was born.

It is one of a series of drawings from a sketchbook which van Scorel (1495-1562) took with him on his pilgrimage from north Holland to the Holy Land. He used his sketches of Jerusalem as the basis for an accurate depiction of the city in the Entry into Jerusalem (Central Museum, Utrecht). He travelled via Germany where he studied with Dürer and then moved on to Venice. On his return to Italy, he worked in Rome under the Dutch Pope, Adrian VI, where he studied the works of Michelangelo and Raphael.

When he returned to Utrecht, Holland, as both a painter and an ecclesiastic, van Scorel continued to paint, playing an important role in introducing Italian art into northern Europe. The biographer, Karel van Mander, noted that his contemporaries referred to van Scorel as 'the torchbearer and pioneer of our arts in the Netherlands'.

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Height: 173.000 mm
Width: 298.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1928-3-10-100



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