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

This work by Goltzius, usually dated to the last decade of the 16th century, is among the earliest drawings based on direct observation of a nude female model in Dutch art. Rendering the body with black chalk, which was rubbed to ensure smooth transitions from light to dark, the artist effectively conveyed the soft glow of naked flesh. The woman’s studio pose—her right leg tucked informally under the thigh and her left hand raised to grasp an invisible ledge—and the fact that the drawing has been left unfinished and unsigned further attest to the work’s status as a study observed from life. Goltzius’s naturalistic approach to the human form distinguishes this study from most other drawings exhibited on this wall, indicating the artist’s dwindling interest in mannerism and his turn toward a more classical ideal of beauty after his return from a trip to Italy in 1591.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Hendrick Goltzius, Dutch (Mühlbracht 1558 - 1617 Haarlem, Netherlands)
Seated Female Nude
Work Type
c. 1594-1600
Physical Descriptions
Black chalk on cream antique laid paper; later borderline in brown ink
38.9 x 28.9 cm (15 5/16 x 11 3/8 in.)
N. Beets, Amsterdam. J. T. Cremer, New York. [Sotheby Mak van Waay, Amsterdam, 17 November 1980, lot 46]. [C. G. Boerner GMBH, Düsseldorf]. Maida and George S. Abrams, Boston, 1988.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Maida and George Abrams Collection, Boston, Massachusetts
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Emil Karel Josef Reznicek, Die Zeichnungen von Hendrick Goltzius, Haentjens Dekker & Gumbert (Utrecht, The Netherlands, 1961), Vol. 1, pp. 134-35, 219, 458-59, cat. no. 445, Vol 2, repr. pl. 334

Pieter Jacobus Johannes van Thiel, "Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem as a Draughtsman", Master Drawings (1965), vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 133-135, pp. 134-5, 147

Hessel Miedema, "De nimf en de dienstmeid: een realistisch genre?", Oud Holland, Netherlands Institute for Art History ('s-Gravenhage, The Netherlands, 1976), vol. 90, 1976, pp. 262-66, pp. 263, 265

Aus Unseren Mappen. Zeichnungen des 16. bis 19. Jahrhunderts, auct. cat. (Düsseldorf, Germany, 1981), cat. no. 16

George Abrams, "Collectors and Collecting", Drawings Defined, ed. Walter Strauss, Abaris Books (New York, 1987), pp. 415-429, p. 417, fig. 2

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. 4, pp. 26-27, repr.

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. 24 repr.

Huigen Leeflang and Ger Luijten, Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617): Drawings, Prints and Paintings, exh. cat., Waanders Uitgevers (Zwolle, 2003), cat. no. 89, repr. (color)

William Breazeale and Susan Anderson, The Language of the Nude: Four Centuries of Drawing the Human Body, exh. cat., Lund Humphries (Aldershot/Burlington, 2008), p. 49, fig. 26

Judith Noorman and David De Witt, Rembrandt's Naked Truth: Drawing Nude Models in the Golden Age, exh. cat., WBOOKS and The Rembrandt House Museum (Zwolle, 2016), p. 104, cat. no. 3, repr. p. 104

Exhibition History

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

Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617): Drawings, Prints and Paintings, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 03/07/2003 - 05/25/2003; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 06/23/2003 - 09/07/2003; Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, 10/18/2003 - 01/04/2004

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

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