© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Vroom spent his career in Haarlem, working in proximity to other leading landscapists of the period. An idyllic mood pervades his paintings, which are distinguished by their delicate light, unobtrusive figures, and serene prospects of large trees along a river or country road. His rare drawings are esteemed for their unconventional compositions and refined technique. Here, the asymmetrical design features a close view of a rutted road, an undulating fence, and dense foliage in the left foreground, which abruptly give way to a diagonal line of trees in the middle-ground and distant panorama. The meticulously descriptive pen work of the plants, fence, and trees in the foreground enhances the disjunction in scale between near and far in the landscape. This signed and dated drawing is a finished work of art presumably intended for sale.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
25.1998.31
People
Cornelis Vroom, Dutch (Haarlem(?), Netherlands c.1591 - 1661 Haarlem, Netherlands)
Title
Landscape with a Road and a Fence
Classification
Drawings
Work Type
drawing
Date
1631
Culture
Dutch
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Brown ink over graphite on cream antique laid paper
Dimensions
19.2 x 25.2 cm (7 9/16 x 9 15/16 in.)
primary mount: 19.9 x 26 cm (7 13/16 x 10 1/4 in.)
secondary mount: 28.9 x 35.6 cm (11 3/8 x 14 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: brown ink, lower left: CVR [in ligature] oom / 1631
  • inscription: primary mount, lower right, graphite: C. Vroom
  • collector's mark: primary and secondary mount, verso, lower right, blue ink stamp: L. 3306 (Maida and George Abrams)
  • inscription: verso, lower left, graphite: /a 2/a
  • collector's mark: verso, lower left, black ink stamp: L. 324 (Wilhelm Gottlieb Becker)
  • (not assigned): printed and adhered label, black ink: Fuesli. / pag.
  • (not assigned): Secondary mount, lower right, graphite: 36x
  • inscription: primary mount, verso, center, brown ink: No. 8.
  • inscription: primary mount, verso, lower right, graphite: larg. 9p. 3 l. haut. 7 p.
  • watermark: none
  • inscription: secondary mount, verso, upper center, blue ballpoint ink: Cornelis Vroom geb. um 1566 (?) in Haarlem / gestorben und beerdigt daselbst am 4.2.1640 / Sepiazeichnung: hollandische Landschaft, gezeichnet 1621 lt. Signatur. [underlined]
  • inscription: secondary mount, verso, center, graphite: 19:25 cm
  • inscription: secondary mount, verso, center, graphite: 91
Provenance
Wilhelm Gottlieb Becker, Dresden (L. 324, verso, lower left), sold; [Weigel, Leipzig, 25 October 1819, lot 85]. Fuesli (with his etiquette, verso, lower left, not in Lugt). [Karl & Faber, Munich, 2 June 1972, lot 211] sold; through [Robert M. Light & Co., Boston]; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston, 1972 (L. 3306, primary and secondary mount, verso, lower right); The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Promised Gift, 25.1998.31.

Published Text
Catalogue
Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums
Authors
William W. Robinson and Susan Anderson
Publisher
Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2016)

Catalogue entry no. 96 by William W. Robinson:

Cornelis was the son and pupil of Hendrik Vroom, the outstanding Dutch painter of seascapes, naval battles, and city views during the first third of the seventeenth century. Although he initially specialized in marine subjects, around 1620 Cornelis turned to landscape painting.2 He spent his career in Haarlem, working in proximity to other leading landscapists of the period, including Jan van de Velde, Pieter de Molijn, Salomon van Ruysdael, and Jacob van Ruisdael. An idyllic mood pervades Vroom’s pictures, which are distinguished by their delicate light, inconspicuous staffage, and serene compositions of large trees along a river or country road. Little known today, Vroom’s work enjoyed a solid reputation during his lifetime. He executed commissions for the stadholder in the Hague, and in 1647 the Haarlem historian Theodorus Schrevelius wrote that Vroom “is without peer among living [landscape painters], although in the judgment of some Pieter de Molijn comes close to, or indeed equals, him.”3

Drawings by Cornelis Vroom are rare—fewer than twenty-five securely attributable sheets have come down to us—but are esteemed for their unconventional compositions and refined technique.4 Landscape with a Road and a Fence exemplifies both of those characteristics of his style. The asymmetrical design features a close view of a rutted road, an undulating fence, and dense foliage in the left foreground, which abruptly give way to a diagonal line of trees in the middle ground and distant panorama. The meticulously descriptive pen work of the plants, fence, and trees in the foreground enhances the disjunction in scale between near and far in the landscape.

The Harvard work unmistakably resembles a drawing by Vroom in Berlin, which is also signed and dated 1631 (Fig. 1).5 The two compositions are close in size and executed in the same technique; they also depict similar terrain—sloping meadows in the foreground, groves of trees in the middle distance, and fields and rolling hills stretching to the horizon. Like most of Vroom’s drawings, these are finished, autonomous works of art, as the signatures and dates affirm. He might have produced them as pendants or, more plausibly, parts of a series, but there is no conclusive proof of any such formal association between them.6

The hilly countryside represented in these and other drawings by the artist bears little resemblance to the dunes around Haarlem or the flatland near the Dutch coast, and scholars have contended that Vroom based it on recollections of the landscape of southern England or perhaps the southern or eastern Netherlands.7 It now appears that the “Vroom” recorded in English documents of the late 1620s was not Cornelis but his brother Frederik, casting doubt on Cornelis’s putative sojourn in Britain.8 In any case, the poetic landscapes featured in several of Vroom’s drawings may be imaginary and not based on his experience of any particular regional topography.9

Notes

1 (This note refers to the provenance.) This name appeared on a printed label that was attached to a former mount. No collector by this name has been identified.

2 Irene van Thiel-Stroman in Pieter Biesboer and Neeltje Köhler, eds., Painting in Haarlem 1500–1850: The Collection of the Frans Hals Museum (Ghent, 2006), pp. 328–32, and Pieter Biesboer in idem, under cat. 492, p. 637.

3 Theodorus Schrevelius, Harlemias, Ofte, om beter te seggen, De eerste stichtinghe der Stadt Haerlem (Haarlem, 1648), p. 389. George S. Keyes, Cornelis Vroom: Marine and Landscape Artist (Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands, 1975), vol. 1, p. 13; Pieter Biesboer, “[Review] Cornelis Vroom: Marine and Landscape Artist,” Simiolus, vol. 10, nos. 3–4 (1978–79): 207–10, p. 207.

4 Keyes (vol. 2, cats. D 1–D 37) listed thirty-seven works in his catalogue raisonné of drawings by Vroom. Biesboer (pp. 208–10) rightly maintained that the drawings Keyes assigned to Cornelis Vroom in the years before about 1622 are by other hands. These include Keyes, vol. 2, cats. D 1, D 2, D 6, D 9, D 10, D 11, D 14, D 18, D 19, D 20, D 23, D 25, D 28, D 29, and D 33. See also M. Russell, Visions of the Sea: Hendrick C. Vroom and the Origins of Dutch Marine Painting (Leiden, 1983), pp. 105–11, for a defense of the attribution of the so-called “Rhonish” drawings (views done in southern France) to Cornelis’s father, Hendrik Cornelisz. Vroom. For an autograph drawing by Cornelis Vroom that came to light after the publication of Keyes’s monograph, see Thomas le Claire in Master drawings 1500–1900: Exhibition, January 15–February 1, 1992, at W. M. Brady and Co. Inc., New York (Kunsthandel, Hamburg, 1992), cat. 18, pp. 40–41.

5 Cornelis Vroom, Hilly Landscape with a View into a Valley (Fig. 1). Brown ink over black chalk or graphite; 193 × 242 mm. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, KdZ 8501. Keyes, vol. 2, cat. D 4; Martin Royalton-Kisch, The Light of Nature: Landscape Drawings and Watercolours by Van Dyck and His Contemporaries (Antwerp: Rubenshuis; London: British Museum, 1999), pp. 130–31; Holm Bevers in Kupferstichkabinett: Aus Rembrandts Zeit; Zeichenkunst in Hollands Goldenem Jahrhundert (Berlin: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 2011), cat. 11, pp. 32–33.

6 Keyes (vol. 2, under cat. D 27, p. 228) suggested that they might be pendants. Frederik Duparc (in Frederik J. Duparc, Landscape in Perspective: Drawings by Rembrandt and His Contemporaries, Cambridge: Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum; Montreal: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1988, under cat. 102, p. 229) questioned this assertion, noting that we have little information about pendant drawings during this period, although two landscapes by Vroom in the Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna, appear to constitute a pair; see Marian Bisanz-Prakken in Die Landschaft im Jahrhundert Rembrandts (Vienna: Albertina Museum, 1993), p. 44. In any event, as Duparc noted (Duparc, p. 229), the compositions of the Berlin and Harvard drawings do not really balance or complement each other, so they are unlikely to be pendants. I suggested (in William Robinson, Bruegel to Rembrandt: Dutch and Flemish Drawings from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, London: British Museum; Paris: Institut Néerlandais; Cambridge: Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, 2002, cat. 14, p. 52) that they could have belonged to series with other drawings that have not been identified.

7 Keyes (vol. 1, pp. 13–14) summarizes the evidence for Cornelis’s visit to England and lists several paintings and drawings that he suggests may record the landscape of southern England. See also Marijn Schapelhouman and Peter Schatborn, Dutch Drawings of the Seventeenth Century in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam: Artists Born between 1580 and 1600; Catalogue of Dutch and Flemish drawings in the Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, (Amsterdam and London, 1998), vol. 1, under cat. 434, p. 194; Jane Turner in Rembrandt’s World: Dutch Drawings from the Clement C. Moore Collection, (New York: The Morgan Library & Museum, 2012), under cat. 20, p. 56; and Bevers, under cat. 11, p. 33.

8 Turner (under cat. 20, p. 56) noted the research on the archival documents by Irene van Thiel-Stroman (in Biesboer and Köhler, pp. 328–32), in which Cornelis Vroom’s visit to England is called into question.

9 In addition to the Harvard and Berlin drawings, examples include Keyes, vol. 2, cats. D 3 and D 37, and Le Claire, cat. 18, pp. 40–41. Keyes’s no. D 37 is now in the Clement C. Moore collection, New York; see Turner, cat. 20, pp. 56–57.

Figures
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Promised Gift
Object Number
25.1998.31
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
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Publication History

Franklin W. Robinson, One Hundred Master Drawings from New England Private Collections, exh. cat. (Hanover, NH, 1973), cat. no. 13, pp. 40-41, repr.

George S. Keyes, Cornelis Vroom: Marine and Landscape Artist, Canaletto (Alphen aan den Rijn, 1975), vol. 1, pp. 81–83, vol. 2, cat. no. D 27, pp. 163 and 227–28, and under cat. no. D 4, p. 213, repr. fig. 44

Curtis O. Baer, ed., Seventeenth Century Dutch Landscape Drawings and Selected Prints from American Collections, exh. cat., Vassar College Art Gallery (Poughkeepsie, NY, 1976), cat. no. 18, pp. 14 and 37-38, repr. 18

Pieter Biesboer, "[Review] Cornelis Vroom: Marine and Landscape Artist", Simiolus (1978 -1979), vol. 10, nos. 3-4, pp. 207-10, p. 209

George Abrams, "Collectors and Collecting", Drawings Defined, ed. Walter Strauss, Abaris Books (New York, 1987), pp. 415-429, repr. p. 425, fig. 11

Peter C. Sutton, Pieter Jacobus Johannes van Thiel, and Albert Blankert, Masters of 17th-century Dutch Landscape Painting, exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston, 1987), under cat. no. 115, p. 519

Frederik J. Duparc, Landscape in Perspective: Drawings by Rembrandt and his Contemporaries, exh. cat., The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Montreal, 1988), cat. no. 102, p. 229, repr. and repr. color. p. 48, fig. 102

Frederik J. Duparc, "[Review] Collectie Abrams in Rijksprentenkabinet", Tableau (1991), vol. 13, no. 5, pp. 40-42, p. 41

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. 31, pp. 80-81, repr.

William W. Robinson, "Abrams Dutch Drawings Given to the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Mass.", Apollo (December 1999), vol. 150, pp. 14-16, p. 15, repr. fig. 3

Martin Royalton-Kisch, The Light of Nature: Landscape Drawings and Watercolours by Van Dyck and his Contemporaries, exh. cat., British Museum Press (London, 1999), under cat. no. 33, p. 130

Seymour Slive, "Collecting 17th-century Dutch art in the United States: the current boom", Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum (2001), vol. 49, no. 1, pp. 84-99, p. 97 (n. 11)

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. 14, pp. 52-53 and 248, repr.

Jeanne Faton, "Entretien avec George Abrams: Dessins de l'âge d'or hollandais", L'Estampille/L'Objet d'art (April 2003), no. 379, pp. 46-55, repr. p. 50

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)

Stefaan Hautekeete, ed., Tekeningen uit Nederlands Gouden Eeuw in de Verzameling van Jean de Grez, exh. cat., Uitgeverij Snoeck (Ghent, 2007), under cat. no. 36, p. 118 (n. 8)

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. 20; cat. no. 96, pp. 315-317, repr. p. 316

Franklin Einspruch, Fuse Visual Art Review: A Pair of Drawing Shows at the Harvard Art Museums, The Arts Fuse ([e-journal], June 9, 2016), repr., http://artsfuse.org/146319/fuse-visual-arts-review-a-pair-of-drawing-shows-at-the-harvard-art-museums/, accessed June 9, 2016

Exhibition History

One Hundred Master Drawings from New England Private Collections, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, 09/05/1973 - 10/14/1973; Hopkins Center Art Galleries, Hanover, 10/26/1973 - 12/03/1973; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 12/14/1973 - 01/25/1974

Seventeenth Century Dutch Landscape Drawings and Selected Prints from American Collections, Vassar College Art Gallery, Poughkeepsie, 03/28/1976 - 05/07/1976

Landscape in Perspective: Drawings by Rembrandt and his Contemporaries, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/20/1988 - 04/03/1988; The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, 04/15/1988 - 05/29/1988

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

A Decade of Collecting: Recent Acquisitions of Prints and Drawings from 1480 to 1940, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 03/25/2000 - 07/02/2000

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

Abrams 50th reunion exhibition, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 06/01/2004 - 06/14/2004

Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/21/2016 - 08/14/2016

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