An old man playing a hurdy-gurdy, and a boy begging for alms at the door of a house; a woman with two babies at the door, and at centre a boy gesturing to his friends who play at l Pen and brown ink and brown wash


© The Trustees of the British Museum

Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: 1895,0915.1342

Bibliographic reference
Hind 1915-31 1
Sumowski 1979 continuing 1768 (Maes)
JCR 867
Royalton-Kisch 2010 Maes.10

Dutch Roy XVIIc

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Object types
drawing (scope note | all objects)

paper (all objects)
drawn (scope note | all objects)
Production person
Attributed to Nicolaes Maes (perhaps Justus de Gelder) (biographical details | all objects)
Formerly attributed to Jan Victors (biographical details | all objects)
1671-1674 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

A hurdy-gurdy man; with a boy begging for alms at the door of a house, a woman with two babies at the door, and at centre a boy gesturing to his friends who play at left. c.1671-4
Pen and brown ink with brown wash; ruled framing-lines in pen and brown ink.
Verso: blank (see Inscriptions).
No watermark

Inscription Content: Inscribed verso, in graphite, upper right: ‘5’; lower right: ‘13 and 6 Sheet’; lower left: ‘50’.

Height: 204 millimetres
Width: 292 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 24mm apart)


Curator's comments
In Hind as Jan Victors. See Hind for a discussion of the attribution.

Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, attributed to Nicolaes Maes, cat. no.10:

The drawing stands at the centre of an attributional debate concerning a group of drawings all by the same hand.[1] Mostly representing biblical subjects, the drawings are stylistically distinctive: in general they have loose, though competent outlines which are almost invariably followed up with liquid, heavily accented, corrective pen-strokes, which sometimes suggest shadows, but sometimes work against the logical fall of light. Considerable use is also made of the tip of the brush to accent and extend the outlines yet further, as well as of deft, confident and sensitively variegated applications of wash.
Of the more than 55 drawings in the group known, some of which are directly inspired by Rembrandt, only the present example is related to a finished work, a painting now in the Dordrechts Museum.[2] Once accepted as a signed work by Nicolaes Maes, the painting is now believed possibly to be by another Dordrecht painter, Maes' stepson, Justus de Gelder (1650-after 1707?). This attribution is based on its stylistic similarity to the only signed painting by De Gelder, which was discovered in 1996.[3] As a contender for the authorship of the painting of the 'Hurdy-Gurdy Man', he is consequently also regarded as the possible author of this and all the other drawings in the group. The signed painting, which represents 'Two Boys playing on a Bridge', is dated 1671, and it is possible that the British Museum drawing, and the related painting in Dordrecht, date from approximately the same time. Another possible terminus a quo results from the conjecture that Maes may himself have painted the figure of a woman looking out of a window in the Dordrecht painting.[4] As Maes left Dordrecht for Amsterdam in 1674, the drawing and the related painting may date from c.1671-74. However, this surmise and the attribution are sufficiently conjectural to encourage reserve, and this and another drawing in the group, cat. nos.9 (1925,1114.1) and, more tentatively, cat. no.11 (1895,0915.1151), are here categorised as from the "School of Maes (Justus de Gelder?)". The reasons for this reserve are the scarcity of knowledge concerning other possible contenders, and the fact that the related painting in Dordrecht is not signed (only another that stylistically resembles it in general terms).
The character of the relationship between the drawing and the painting also undermines confidence in the attribution. The drawing, like most in the group, has a finished, pictorial quality that is at odds with a preparatory function. Many historical and biblical scenes of this type survive by Rembrandt and his pupils, but they are usually regarded as independent creations and are rarely connected with finished paintings. Furthermore, the relationship between the drawing and the painting is unusual, because every figure is changed; yet there are no pentimenti in the drawing, and in the painting the figures all become more rigid and static, as if a lively genre scene had been changed into a semi-formal family portrait with genre elements. The architectural features also underwent significant changes, and a seated boy was added in the right foreground of the painting. For these reasons, the drawing and the painting may be by different hands. One – perhaps the painting (which may well be by De Gelder) – may derive from the other, or both may derive from another source, now unknown. If the painting is by Justus de Gelder, it may be based on a painting or sketch by his stepfather, Nicolaes Maes.
The composition may reflect knowledge of the painting of 1608 by David Vinckboons, now in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.[5]
A copy of the drawing is in Edinburgh.[6]

[1] Sumowski, 1979 etc., nos.1768 (the present work) and 1904x – 1956ax, describes 55 drawings. He mentions seven others that are lost.
[2] Sumowski, 'Gemälde', III, 1983, p.2019, no.1360, repr.; Krempel, 2000, no.E3, repr. fig.408.
[3] Krempel, 2000, repr.figs.439-40.
[4] Krempel, 2000, p.364, under no.E 3, suggests that the figure at the window is a portrait, and that it was added by Maes.
[5] Inv.A2401. The comparison was made by Hellerstedt, 1981 (see Lit. below).
[6] See Edinburgh, 1985, I, p.49, no.D.1814, repr. II, fig.328.

Robinson, 1869/76, no.842 /867 (Victors); London, 1915, p.94, no.1, repr. pl.LXIII (Victors; traditional attribution, supported by analogies with his paintings); Van Dyke, 1927, p.125 (possibly Victors); Paris, 1933, p.54, under no.1281 (perhaps Victors); Hind, 1936, p.88 (attributes to Maes; relates to signed painting with Schaeffer [now Dordrecht Museum]); Amsterdam, 1942, p.49, under no.98; Bernt, 1957, II, no.636, repr. (Victors); Sumowski, 1963[I], p.98 (by Victors but connected with Maes painting in Dordrecht); Sumowski, 1964[II], p.198, n.43; Exh. Cambridge, 1966, under no.45, n.26 (as Sumowski, 1963[I]); Hellerstedt, 1981, pp.19-21, repr. fig.7 (Victors? compares for subject Benesch 750; relates to Maes painting, and hurdy-gurdy man to figure in Vinckboons painting in Rijksmuseum); Sumowski, 'Gemälde', III, 1983, p.2019, under no.1360 (c.1656-8; otherwise as Hind, 1936); Sumowski, 1979 etc., VIII, 1984, p.3980, no.1768, repr. (Maes, for Dordrecht painting); Edinburgh, 1985, I, p.49, under no.D.1814; Exh. New York-Fort Worth-Cleveland, 1990-91, under no.39 (as Sumowski, 1979 etc.); Exh. Dordrecht, 1992-3, p.244, repr. fig.1 (Maes; entry by Wieseman notes differences to Dordrecht painting); Robinson, 1996 diss., pp.99 and 140-1 (anon. pupil or close follower of Maes, also responsible for Dordrecht painting; unusual for a preparatory sketch by Maes to be so complete); Robinson, 1999, p.247 (as in 1996); Krempel, 2000, p.364, under no.E3, repr. fig.407 (not Maes; perhaps Justus de Gelder).

poverty (all objects)
musician (scope note | all objects)
child (scope note | all objects)
acrobat/street-performer (scope note | all objects)

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Purchased from Col John Wingfield Malcolm (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Sybouts (all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection John Malcolm of Poltalloch (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Gérard Leembruggen (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition notes
Sybouts (according to Leembruggen sale catalogue); Gérard Leembruggen; his sale, Amsterdam, Roos, Engelberts, Lamma and Roos, 5ff. March, 1866, lot 717 (as Victors), bt for Malcolm, who paid £2-17-3 (according to marked copy of Robinson, 1876, in the British Museum); John Malcolm of Poltalloch; purchased with the Malcolm collection, 1895.

Exhibition History
1992, BM, Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle (not in catalogue, as Maes).

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