drawing

Landscape with a river; trees on a slope at l, herdsmen on a track by the river, one on horseback, a castle amid trees on the further bank Watercolour and bodycolour, heightened with white (partly oxidised)

AN218918001001

© The Trustees of the British Museum

Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: 1895,0915.1032

Bibliographic reference
Sumowski 1979 continuing 2447x (as With)
Royalton-Kisch 2010 With.6 (as by De With or (more probably) van Battem)

Location:
Dutch Roy XVIIc

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Object types
drawing (scope note | all objects)

Materials
paper (all objects)
Techniques
drawn (scope note | all objects)
Production person
Attributed to Gerrit van Battem (biographical details | all objects)
Formerly attributed to Adam Elsheimer (biographical details | all objects)
Attributed to Pieter de With (biographical details | all objects)
Date
1660 (fl. c)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)


Description
Landscape with a river; trees on a slope at l, herdsmen on a track by the river, one on horseback, a castle amid trees on the further bank
Brush in tones of grey and brown, with white (partly oxodised) on brown paper; framing-lines in pen and brown ink.
Watermark: none visible

Inscriptions
Inscription Content: Inscriptions: none visible. Robinson, 1869/76 and Hind, 1925 (see Lit. below), record an inscription by Jonathan Richardson, senior: For this drawing I have more than once been offered 25 guineas, but refused it, chiefly because I would not suffer so capital a drawing to go out of my collection in my lifetime.


Dimensions
Height: 182 millimetres (chain lines not visible.)
Width: 257 millimetres


Condition
good; traces of gold from an old mat at left edge – perhaps from Richardson's time (see Provenance).

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, 'Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school', 2010, as De With (or more probably van Battem), no.6:
Long considered among the finest works by Adam Elsheimer and described by Wilhelm von Bode in 1883 as 'eine der köstlichsten und vollendesten Zeichnungen Elsheimers',[2] the drawing encapsulates many of the qualities that are admired in the work of the German painter: a balanced, ideal composition that anticipates works by Claude Lorrain, delicate attention to detail in the foreground and subtle gradations in atmospheric perspective into the farthest distance. The strong diagonal of the wedge-shaped land mass to the left must have seemed inseparable from Elsheimer's designs, perhaps especially as seen through the lens of Hendrick Goudt's monochrome engravings after them.
Now realigned among works that are more likely to be by Pieter de With, along especially with cat. no.5 (1893,0731.1, but see also Oo,10.134, Oo.10.136, 1910,0212.104 and 1946,0713.141 [H3-8]), its importance recedes as it assumes the status of an emulation of an earlier master. Yet in its employment of gouache it retains its art-historical interest as a technical achievement and its aesthetic appeal, evoking an ideal of northern landscape en grisaille in an original way. However, the question of attribution remains: that to De With is barely more convincing than one to his approximate contemporary, Gerrit van Battem (1636-84). The current consensus eruditorum has settled for De With, and its juxtaposition with the signed drawing in a related medium (cat.no.5) points up similarities: the chalky quality of the medium, the comparable riverside composition, the softly drawn architecture and the more rudimentary description of the figurative details (and the rhythm of the drawing of the fences). These analogies suggest the same authorship and, following the general consensus, the drawing is therefore retained here under his name.
Yet the reasonableness of this attribution is undermined by a single, signed drawing by Van Battem now in Edinburgh, which was also believed to be by Elsheimer until the 1960s.[3] It seems inseparable from the above-mentioned group and in the writer's view the attribution to Van Battem is the more persuasive. Compared with no.5, the drawings in the Van Battem group exhibit a greater attention to detail in both the foliage and the figures. It is worth remarking that in the nineteenth century three of the drawings were attributed to Van Battem (Oo,10.134, Oo,10.136; 1946,0713.141). No connection between the two artists is known, nor between them and Adam Elsheimer, and cat. no.5 suggests that some gouache landscapes should probably remain under De With's name. In sum, it seems to the compiler that the problems posed by these drawings have not been laid to rest, but that the present sheet may well be the work of van Battem.

1. According to the annotated copy of Robinson, 1876, in the British Museum.
2. See Lit below.
3. Inv.D1114. First doubted as Elsheimer by Waddingham, 1967, p.48, who detected its northern feel, the van Battem signature was taken at face value for the first time by Van Gelder and Jost, 1967-8, p.36 and subsequently by its curator, Keith Andrews (e.g. in 1977, pp.41, 163 and 167, under no.50, A41, in 1983, pp.24-6 and in Edinburgh, 1985, I, p.3, repr. II, fig.16; he had in 1961, no.20, illustrated the drawing as by Elsheimer). It is also repr. as by van Battem by Sumowski, 1979 etc., X, 1992, p.5583, fig.172.


Literature: Robinson, 1869/76, no.567/574 (Elsheimer); Bode, 1883, p.308 (eine der köstlichsten und vollendesten Zeichnungen Elsheimers); Hind, 1925, p.245 (Elsheimer); Hind, 1926[I], p.42, no.359 (Elsheimer); Drost, 1933, p.139 (Elsheimer); Weizsäcker, 1936, I, p.263 (Elsheimer); Drost, 1957, pp.123-4, repr. fig.143 (Elsheimer); Möhle, 1957, p.14 (Elsheimer; compares Berlin drawing, inv.24620 [Sumowski 2442x]); Möhle, 1966, pp.150-1, no.48, repr. pl.29 (Elsheimer; one of his greatest gouaches); Van Gelder and Jost, 1967-8, p.34 (on provenance); Hohl, 1972, p.86 (Goffredo Wals); Hohl, 1973, p.200, n.12 (as in 1972); Andrews, 1977, p.167 (not by Elsheimer); Andrews, 1979/81, p.24 (Van Battem, perhaps); Sutherland Harris, 1978, p.403, n.14 (not by Goffredo Wals); Sumowski, 1979 etc., X, 1992, pp.5536-7, no.2447X, repr. (De With).


Acquisition date
1895

Acquisition name
Purchased from Col John Wingfield Malcolm (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Dr Rev Henry Wellesley (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Jonathan Richardson Senior (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection John Malcolm of Poltalloch (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition notes
Provenance: Jonathan Richardson, senior (see Inscriptions above; neither of his collector's marks is visible; at his sale, Cock, 14th night, 4 February 1747, lot 58 was described as "Two, Elshamer, a history and landscape"; there is no mention of the artist in the sale catalogue of his son, Jonathan Richardson, jun., in February 1772); Dr H. Wellesley; his sale, Sotheby's, final day, 10 July, 1866, lot 528, bt for Malcolm for £2-15-0;1 purchased with the collection of John Malcolm of Poltalloch, 1895 (as Elsheimer).


Exhibition History
1990 Apr-Aug, BM, Treasures of P&D (no cat.)


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