- Gallery Text
De Gheyn II’s studies of the natural world are some of the best examples of his facility as a draftsman. In this drawing, the artist adhered to contemporary conventions of scientific illustration by portraying the dragonfly from three principal positions—the front, rear, and side. Rather than placing the specimen haphazardly on the sheet, De Gheyn created a balanced composition by arranging the three views around a blank rectangular space in the center. Working in brown ink over a preliminary study in black chalk, he delicately pictured the glossy sheen of the insect’s body and the two pairs of transparent finely veined wings. The drawing’s mimetic effect is further underscored by subtle shadows that the dragonflies cast onto the surface of the sheet. Both a spectacular work of art and an intricate depiction of a zoological specimen, this drawing attests to the affinity of art and science in the early Dutch Republic.
- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
Jacques de Gheyn II, Dutch (Antwerp, Netherlands 1565 - 1629 The Hague, Netherlands)
- Three Studies of a Dragonfly
- Work Type
- c. 1600
Level 2, Room 2300, European Art, 17th–19th century, Seventeenth–Century Dutch and Flemish Art
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- Physical Descriptions
- Brown ink over black chalk on cream antique laid paper
- 15.2 x 18.9 cm (6 x 7 7/16 in.)
- [Christie's, London, 3 May 1979, lot 46], sold; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston, 1979.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Maida and George Abrams Collection, Boston, Massachusetts
- Object Number
- European and American Art
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- Publication History
The Draughtsman at Work. Drawing in the Golden Century of Dutch Art, checklist (unpublished, 1980), no. 12
I. Q. van Regteren Altena, Jacques de Gheyn: Three Generations, M. Nijhoff Publishers (The Hague, Boston and London, 1983), vol. 2, cat. no. II 900a, p. 140; repr. vol. 3, p. 182, pl. 359a
A. Th. van Deursen and Emil Karel Josef Reznicek, Jacques de Gheyn II: Drawings, exh. cat., Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 1985), under cat. no. 81, p. 79
Institut Néerlandais, Le Héraut du Dix-Septième Siècle. Dessins et gravures de Jacuqes de Gheyn II..., exh. cat., Institut Néerlandais (Paris, France, 1985), sub. cat. no. 32
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. 8, pp. 34-35, 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. 29, repr.
Bobbie Leigh and Rebecca Dimling Cochran, "The Top 100 Collectors in America", Art & Antiques (March 2003), vol. 26, no. 3, entire issue, repr. p. 22
Susan Dackerman, ed., Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2011), cat. 44 p.206-207, repr.
- Exhibition History
The Draughtsman at Work. Drawing in the Golden Century of Dutch Art, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 11/21/1980 - 01/04/1981
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
Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/06/2011 - 12/10/2011; Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Evanston, 01/17/2012 - 04/08/2012
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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