© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Adriaen van de Venne was one of the most talented book illustrators working in the Dutch Republic. This smallscale, jewel-like drawing served as a preliminary study for an illustration to Jacob Cats’s sensationally popular poem Houwelick (Marriage). Published in 1625, Cats’s volume was a kind of domestic treatise, outlining the principles of appropriate female behavior, from courtship to widowhood. In the text and the illustrations, both Cats and Van de Venne drew analogies between different stages of a woman’s life and the seasons of the year. Entitled Spring, this drawing depicts an elegant young lady presenting her companion with a fragrant bloom during a walk in the Dutch countryside. While on the one hand the sheet celebrates female powers of seduction and the enchantments of young love, the inclusion in the foreground of symbols of fidelity—a pair of dogs and a thistle plant—underscores the more didactic aspects of Cats’s poem.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Adriaen van de Venne, Dutch (Delft 1589 - 1662 The Hague)
Work Type
Physical Descriptions
Brown ink, gray wash and white opaque watercolor, incised, on off-white antique laid paper, framing line in black ink
10.5 x 14 cm (4 1/8 x 5 1/2 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: Lower left, brown ink: Av [in ligature] venne 1622.
  • inscription: upper center, brown ink, in artist's hand: Ver.
  • inscription: verso, lower left, brown ink: No 417
  • inscription: verso, lower left, graphite: 4 stuks N 2130.-.-,
  • inscription: verso, lower left, brown ink: Adrian van der Venne / geb: 1589. zu Delft / gest: 1662 im Haag
  • inscription: verso, lower center, graphite: L / a: 15307
  • inscription: verso, lower right, graphite: Veiling Lanna / 574 / f [or 4?] junij
  • collector's mark: verso, lower center, blue ink stamp: L. 3306 (Maida and George Abrams)
  • watermark: none
  • collector's mark: verso, lower left, blue ink, stamp: L. 1659 (Adalbert van Lanna)
  • collector's mark: verso, lower right, black ink stamp with accompanying graphite inscription: L. 2773 (Adalbert van Lanna) / 564
  • inscription: verso, lower center, brown ink stamp: L. 561 (Cornelis Hofstede de Groot)
Probably J. F. van Oordt, probably sold; [Rotterdam, Lamme, 11 December 1856 and following days, omslag 2, lot 62.] Jacob de Vos, Amsterdam (L. 1450, without his mark, according to Von Lanna and Hofstede de Groot sales and Hannema 1955). Adalbert, Freiherr von Lanna, Prague (L. 1659, verso, lower left and L. 2773, verso, lower right, with accompanying graphite inscription, 564), sold; [Gutekunst, Stuttgart, 11-16 May 1910, lot 574.] Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, The Hague (L. 561, verso, lower center), sold; [Boerner, Leipzig, 4 November 1931, lot 260]; to Elte. Hubertus Egbertus ten Cate, Oldenzaal. [C.G. Boerner, Düsseldorf.] Adolph Schwarz, Amsterdam and Amstelveen. [R.M. Light & Co., Santa Barbara], sold; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston, 1990 (L. 3306, verso, lower center); The Maida and George Abrams Collection, 1999.178

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Tentoonstelling van Teekeningen van Oud-Hollandsche Meesters Uit de Verzameling van Dr. C. Hofstede de Groot, exh. cat., Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal (Leiden, 8 March - 7 April 1916), cat. no. 96, n.p.

Verzameling Dr. C. Hofstede de Groot, exh. cat., Gemeentemuseum (The Hague, 16 August - 16 September 1930), cat. no. 131, p. 20

D. Hannema, Catalogue of the H.E. ten Cate Collection, A. Donker (Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 1955), vol. 1, cat. no. 305, p. 170, repr. vol. 2, pl. 90

Ausgewählte Handzeichnungen aus vier Jahrhunderten, auct. cat., C. G. Boerner (Düsseldorf, 1964), cat. no. 104, n.p., repr. fig. 104

J. W. Niemeijer, De Verzameling van A. Schwarz, exh. cat., Rijksmuseum Amsterdam (Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1968), cat. no. 103, pp. 33-34, repr. fig. 6

Peter Schatborn and Karel G. Boon, Dutch Genre Drawings of the Seventeenth Century, exh. cat., Meriden Gravure Co. (Meriden, CT, 1972), cat. no. 102, p. 62, repr.

Laurens Bol, "Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne, Schilder en Teyckenaer", Tableau (February 1984), vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 49-57, pp. 54 and 56, repr. p. 55, fig. 115

Laurens Bol, Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne Painter and Draughtsman, Davaco Publishers (Doornspijk, The Netherlands, 1989), p. 125, repr. p. 123, fig. 112

A. van Suchtelen, "New Evidence on a series of Landscape Paintings by Adrian van de Venne", The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal (1990), vol. 18, pp. 99-112, p. 107; repr. p. 108, fig. 12

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. 17, pp. 52-53, repr.

Yvette Bruijnen and Paul Huys Janssen, De Vier Jaargetijden in de kunst van de Nederlanden 1500-1750, exh. cat., Waanders Uitgevers, Noordbrabants Museum, and Stedelijk Museum Vander Kelen-Mertens (Zwolle, 2002), under cat. nos. 79-82, p. 154

Michael Kammen, A Time to Every Purpose: the Four Seasons in American Culture, The University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill and London, 2004), pp. 54 and 290 (n. 43), repr. p. 56, fig. 20

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), cat. no. 92, pp. 304-306, repr. p. 305

Exhibition History

De Verzameling van A. Schwarz, Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 09/01/1968 - 12/31/1968

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

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

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 am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu