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

The only work in this installation that explicitly addresses contemporary political realities of the Low Countries, this sheet belongs to an allegorical suite of 13 drawings that recount the history of the region at the time of the Dutch Revolt. The drawing commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Antwerp in 1609, which put a temporary end to the hostilities between Habsburg Spain and the Dutch Republic. Wtewael distills this historic event into a handshake between the young maiden Belgica, at left, personifying the new Republic, and the female personification of Spain, who stands on a platform at right. The two women are surrounded by the entourage of historical figures who were instrumental in brokering the truce. Although the overall tone of the scene is optimistic, Belgica’s apparent hesitation, the admonitory gestures of some of the surrounding figures, and Spain’s horn-shaped coiffure reveal a degree of ambivalence about making peace with treacherous Spain.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Joachim Wtewael, Dutch (Utrecht, Netherlands 1566 - 1638 Utrecht, Netherlands)
The Truce
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Twelve Years' Truce
Work Type
Physical Descriptions
Black ink, gray wash and white opaque watercolor, framing line in gray ink, on off-white antique laid paper,
19 x 24.9 cm (7 1/2 x 9 13/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: Black ink, lower right corner: Jo Wte Wael fecit Ao 1612
  • watermark: Possibly crowned shield with rampant lion, PAP below (close to Heawood 3135). The same watermark is on the other Abrams sheet and the sheet in Ottawa.
  • inscription: verso, upper left cornerg, gray ink, pen, in artist's hand: numbered, '013', possibly as 13th in the series
Karel Emil Duits, London (L.533a, without his mark), by descent; to his children. Private Collection, England, sold; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston, 1999.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Maida and George Abrams Collection, Boston, Massachusetts
Object Number
European and American Art
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Framing line in gray ink by artist
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. 27, repr.

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. 329, under cat. no. 100, repr. fig. 2

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

32Q: 2300 Dutch & Flemish, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/08/2017 - 01/17/2018

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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