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

This highly finished drawing was produced not long after Savery started working as the court painter for Emperor Rudolf II in Prague in 1603. Using a combination of red and black chalks, which saturate the image with color and warmth, it depicts a group of merrymaking peasants gathered by a rocky outcrop. Large in size and rendered with great attentiveness to their distinctively Bohemian costumes, Savery’s villagers appear remarkably dignified and poised. We know that the artist adapted the figure of the seated peasant at the right side of the composition from a surviving study done naer het leven (“from life”), and it seems likely that some of the other peasants were also derived from his drawings of the streets of Prague. This work is a prime example of the convergence of imagined and observed motifs, which characterized genre scenes around 1600.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Roelant Savery, Flemish (Kortrijk, Netherlands 1576 - 1639 Utrecht, Netherlands)
Six Peasants Merrymaking
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Peasant Scene
Work Type
c. 1608
Physical Descriptions
Black and red chalk on cream antique laid paper
27 x 20.6 cm (10 5/8 x 8 1/8 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. 35, repr.

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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