Maida and George Abrams Collection, Boston © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Whether derived from imagination or observed from life, portraits and head studies were a mainstay of Dutch draftsmanship of the early Golden Age. As the four drawings displayed at the center of this room show, the medium of pen and ink, with the occasional addition of washes, was popular among artists intent on producing technically refined and visually striking human likenesses. Jacob Matham’s Portrait of a Man stands out for its exceedingly controlled and meticulous pen work. This, in essence, is a showpiece, produced to celebrate the artist’s skill as a draftsman. Matham’s exacting study can be contrasted with the bold and painterly drawing manner of Jan van Bouckhorst, whose drawing depicts the allegory of the Three Ages of Man. A more informal approach was also adopted in Dirck de Vries’s Head of a Young Woman in Profile. Showing the woman’s unruly hair falling over her neck and eyes, and rendering her upper body in quick angular strokes, the drawing gives the impression of an intimate study done from life. While the model in De Vries’s work will likely remain anonymous, the sitter in the portrait by David Bailly can be identified as Dutch painter and draftsman Jan Pynas. Formal in approach and polished in execution, this drawing is the only known likeness of the artist, whose own landscape drawing is also included in this installation.

[25.1998.6, TL41760.4, TL41760.23, TL41760.24]

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Dirck de Vries, Dutch (Friesland? 1540-1550 - after 1609 Venice)
Head of a Young Woman in Profile
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Head of a Woman
Work Type
c. 1590-1600
Physical Descriptions
Brown ink over graphite on cream antique laid paper
19.5 x 13.4 cm (7 11/16 x 5 1/4 in.)
Maida and George Abrams, Boston
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Maida and George Abrams Collection, Boston, Long Term Loan
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

William W. Robinson, Bruegel to Rembrandt: Dutch and Flemish Drawings from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2002), cat. no. 32, repr.

Jeanne Faton, "Entretien avec George Abrams: Dessins de l'âge d'or hollandais", L'Estampille/L'Objet d'art (April 2003), no. 379, pp. 46-55, repr. p. 49

Exhibition History

Bruegel to Rembrandt: Dutch and Flemish Drawings from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, British Museum, London, 06/13/2002 - 09/22/2002; Institut Néerlandais, Paris, 10/10/2002 - 12/08/2002; Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 03/22/2003 - 07/06/2003

The Art of Drawing in the Early Dutch Golden Age, 1590–1630: Selected Works from the Abrams Collection, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/09/2017 - 01/14/2018

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