© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Van Orley served as painter to the Brussels court of the Habsburg regent Margaret of Austria and also worked for her successor, Mary of Hungary. Although he may never have visited Italy, he played a crucial role in the introduction of Italian Renaissance style into the art of the Netherlands. In addition to painting altarpieces and portraits, Van Orley was a brilliant designer of tapestries and stained glass. Pentecost is one of 13 surviving cartoons (full-scale drawings) for a lost or unidentified cycle comprising at least 21 stained glass windows devoted to scenes from Christ’s Passion. All have a ruled vertical center line and ruled single or double horizontal lines in red chalk, which mark the positions of the metal bars that secured the glass within the window frame.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Bernard van Orley, Netherlandish (Brussels, Belgium c. 1491/92 - 1542 Brussels, Belgium)
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Descent of the Holy Spirit
Work Type
c. 1520-30
Physical Descriptions
Charcoal, black chalk, stumped, and gray wash, center line, framing lines and indications of saddle bars and T-bar in red chalk on six joined sheets of antique laid paper, mounted on Japanese paper; scattered touches of graphite restoration
89.7 x 60.1 cm (35 5/16 x 23 11/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: lower right, brown ink : XX... [? The tail of a third digit, lost with the corner of the sheet, is visible.]
  • watermark:
    Clover with undecipherable monogram; variant of Briquet 9890 (Utrecht, 1523, but uncertain provenance)
Perhaps Van Parijs, Brussels, by descent; to his heirs, sold; [Muller, Amsterdam, 11-12 January 1878, within lot 322.] Franck, Brussels, sold; via Pascal Ruys Raquez; to André Leysen, Antwerp, sold; [Sotheby's, New York, 25 January 2002, lot 18, repr.], bought in and subsequently sold; to Harvard University Art Museums; Marian H. Phinney Fund, Agnes Mongan Purchase Fund, William C. Heilman Fund and through the generosity of David Rust, Howard Lepow, an anonymous donor, the Weingart Foundation and the DBH Foundation, 2002.22.

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Marian H. Phinney Fund, Agnes Mongan Purchase Fund, William C. Heilman Fund and through the generosity of David Rust, Howard Lepow, an anonymous donor, the Weingart Foundation and the DBH Foundation
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.
Publication History

Karel G. Boon, L'Epoque de Lucas de Leyde et Pierre Bruegel: Dessins de Anciens Pay-Bas Collection Frits Lugt, Fondation Custodia (Florence and Paris, 1980-1981), under cat. no. 114, pp. 165-7 (n. 4) (as Descente du Saint-Esprit)

Société Générale de Banque / A.S.B.L. les Amis de Dessin, Dessins du XVe au XVIIIe Siecle dans les collections privées de Belgique, exh. cat., Société Genérale de Banque (Brussels, Belgium, 1983), under cat. no. 10, p. 32 (n. 1)

Renaissance et Maniérisme dans les Ecoles du Nord: Dessins des collections de l'Ecole des Beaux-Arts, exh. cat., Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts (Paris, 1985), under cat. no. 43, p. 92

John Oliver Hand, J. R. Judson, and William W. Robinson, The Age of Bruegel: Netherlandish Drawings in the Sixteenth Century, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art/Cambridge University Press (Washington, D.C. and Cambridge, England, 1986), under cat . no. 92, p. 241 (n. 1)

Karel G. Boon, The Netherlandish and German Drawings of the XVth and XVIth Centuries of the Frits Lugt Collection (Paris, France, 1992), vol. 1, under cat. no. 156, pp. 282 and 284 (n. 7 and 8) (as Descent of the Holy Spirit)

Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums Annual Report 2001-2002 (Cambridge, MA, 2003), pp. 27-28, repr.

Suzanne Boorsch and John Marciari, Master Drawings from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat., Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, CT, 2006), under cat. no. 4, pp. 46-47 (n. 7 and 9)

William W. Robinson and Susan Anderson, Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums, Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2016), p. 22; cat. no. 61, pp. 210-212, repr. p. 211; watermark p. 379

Exhibition History

Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/21/2016 - 08/14/2016

Subjects and Contexts

Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu