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

Bloemaert was one of the most prolific Dutch draftsmen of his time, working in a broad range of styles, techniques, and subject matter. In this drawing, he transforms a traditionally reticent devotional subject into a refined and bustling mannerist-style composition. The doughy faces, oversized limbs, contorted poses, and emphatically expressive gestures of the figures, which all converge on the Christ Child, point to Bloemaert’s productive engagement with mannerism in the beginning of his long career. Like many artists working in this style, Bloemaert often collaborated with printmakers, promoting reproductions of his compositions and facilitating the dissemination of his style. This drawing, which served as a model for an engraving by Jacob Matham, is a great example of the intricate and highly polished style of draftsmanship that Bloemaert developed for his studies for prints.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Abraham Bloemaert, Netherlandish (Gorinchem, Netherlands c. 1566 - 1651 Utrecht, Netherlands)
Adoration of the Shepherds
Work Type
c. 1595-1598
Physical Descriptions
Brown ink, brown wash, white opaque watercolor, over black chalk, vertical center line in graphite or black chalk, incised, on cream antique laid paper, mounted down entirely
19.8 x 28.9 cm (7 13/16 x 11 3/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: verso, left center, brown ink, visible in transmitted light: A. Bloemaert
  • watermark: Fleur de lis with 4 over WR below
  • blind stamp: lower left, on steps: L. 539 (Sir George Clausen)
  • collector's mark: mount, verso, lower left, blue ink stamp: L. 3306 (Maida and George Abrams)
  • inscription: mount, verso, center, graphite: 8 [encircled]
  • inscription: mount, verso, lower center, graphite: A. Bloemaert
  • inscription: mount, verso, lower center, graphite: Bloemart (A.) - The Nativity, bistre heightened, with the / Engraving of it by Matham.
Sir George Clausen, London (L. 539, lower left, on steps). [F. A. Drey Gallery, London, 1943.] [Arcade Gallery, London, 1944.] Einar Perman, Stockholm, sold; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston, 1990 (L. 3306, mount, verso, lower left); The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Promised Gift, inv. no. 25.1998.1
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Promised Gift
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

[Reproduction only], Reproduction only, The Burlington Magazine, (London, March 1944)., repr. p. ii

Einar Perman, Oude Tekeningen uit de Nederlanden. Verzameling Prof. E. Perman, Stockholm, exh. cat., Singer Museum (Laren, The Netherlands, 1962), cat. no. 8, p. 8, repr. pl. 26

William W. Robinson, Seventeenth-Century Dutch Drawings: A Selection from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, exh. cat., H. O. Zimman, Inc. (Lynn, MA, 1991), cat. no. 1, pp. 20-21, repr.

Marcel Roethlisberger and Marten Jan Bok, Abraham Bloemaert and his Sons, Paintings and Prints, Davaco Publishers (Doornspijk, 1993), vol. 1, under cat. no. 48, p. 94

Ger Luijten, ed., Dawn of the golden age: northern Netherlandish art, 1580-1620, exh. cat., Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and Waanders Uitgevers (Amsterdam and Zwolle, 1993), under cat. no. 34, p. 377

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. 26, pp. 76-77 and 251, repr.

Michiel C. Plomp, "[Review] Bruegel to Rembrandt. Dutch and Flemish Drawings from the Maida and George Abrams Collection.", Oud Holland (2004), vol. 117, no. 1/2, pp. 99-102, p. 101 (n. 3)

Jaap Bolten, Abraham Bloemaert, c. 1565-1651: The Drawings (Netherlands, 2007), vol. 1, cat. no. 99, p. 51, under cat. no. 145, p. 67, and under cat. no. 888, p. 297, repr. vol. 2, p. 57, fig. 99

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. 19; cat. no. 7, pp. 46-48, repr. p. 47

Jaap Bolten, The Drawings of Abraham Bloemaert: A Supplement, Master Drawings (New York, 2017), vol. 55, no. 1, pp. 3-120, cat. no. 99, pp. 14-15, fig. 32

Exhibition History

Oude Tekeningen uit de Nederlanden: Verzameling Prof. E. Perman, Stockholm, Singer Museum, Laren, 06/09/1962 - 09/16/1962

Seventeenth-Century Dutch Drawings: A Selection from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 02/23/1991 - 04/18/1991; Albertina Gallery, Vienna, 05/16/1991 - 06/30/1991; Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, 01/22/1992 - 04/22/1992; Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 10/10/1992 - 12/06/1992

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

Subjects and Contexts

Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

Related Works

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