Jacques de Gheyn II, A Roma Woman with a Child, c. 1604. Brown ink and black chalk. The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Promised Gift, 25.1998.10. Photo: © President and Fellows of Harvard College. © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

This sensitive study belongs to a small group of pen and ink drawings of Roma women and children by De Gheyn II. Since the Roma ommunity had been banished from Dutch towns, the artist probably observed his subjects in the countryside around Leiden or The Hague. In this drawing, the mother tenderly gazes at her child who, barefoot and disheveled, tightly grasps her left hand. This gentle moment is rendered in De Gheyn’s exuberant pen manner, which depicts form and texture through the combination of rounded parallel hatches as well as spiraling and zigzagging strokes. The artist developed his mature pen technique by emulating the drawings of his teacher Hendrick Goltzius (such as Seated Woman, displayed nearby). Unlike Goltzius, who used the elaborate technique to produce an imaginary composition, De Gheyn here employed it to illustrate an episode based on direct observation. The study derives much of its visual impact from this remarkable blend of naturalism and artifice.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
25.1998.10
People
Jacques de Gheyn II, Dutch (Antwerp, Netherlands 1565 - 1629 The Hague, Netherlands)
Title
A Roma Woman with a Child
Classification
Drawings
Work Type
drawing
Date
c. 1604
Culture
Dutch
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Brown ink and black chalk on light tan antique laid paper
Dimensions
16.2 x 13.1 cm (6 3/8 x 5 3/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: lower left, brown ink: J:d:Gijn f
  • inscription: verso, lower left, brown ink: gheyn
  • collector's mark: verso, lower center, blue ink stamp: L. 3306 (Maida and George Abrams)
  • inscription: verso, upper right, underneath mount: DE GHEYN
  • watermark: none
Provenance
Comtesse B. B. de Maigret. [Adolphe Stein, Switzerland], sold; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston, 1981 (L. 3306, verso, lower center); The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Promised Gift, 25.1998.10
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Promised Gift
Object Number
25.1998.10
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
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Descriptions

Label Text: Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt , written 2016
This is one of four closely related studies of Roma women and children by De Gheyn. The Roma migrated from India and arrived in northern Europe during the Middle Ages. In the Netherlands they were known as “heathens” and, because of their supposed country of origin, “Egyptians,” a misconception from which the English “gypsy” derives. Due to their unconventional dress, language, customs, and disregard for local ordinances, they were banished from the towns and condemned to a marginal life in the countryside. During the 1590s, scholars at the University of Leiden studied the language and mores of the Roma—an interest that De Gheyn, who had close ties to the university, evidently shared. His drawings objectively record the clothing and physiognomies of the Roma, such as the distinctive capes and headdresses worn by this mother and her child.

Publication History

I. Q. van Regteren Altena, Jacques de Gheyn: Three Generations, M. Nijhoff Publishers (The Hague, Boston and London, 1983), vol. 2, cat. no. Add. 3, p. 182, repr. vol. 3, p. 284, pl. 3 (Add.3)

A. Th. van Deursen and Emil Karel Josef Reznicek, Jacques de Gheyn II: Drawings, exh. cat., Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 1985), cat. no. 61 and under cat. no. 62, p. 67, repr. fig. 61

Institut Néerlandais, Le Héraut du Dix-Septième Siècle. Dessins et gravures de Jacuqes de Gheyn II..., exh. cat., Institut Néerlandais (Paris, France, 1985), under cat. no. 26, p. 69 (n. 2)

George Abrams, "Collectors and Collecting", Drawings Defined, ed. Walter Strauss, Abaris Books (New York, 1987), pp. 415-429, p. 417, repr. p. 420, fig. 4

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

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. 10, pp. 38-39, repr.

Daniel Gross, "Dutch Treats", Harvard Magazine (Cambridge, MA, September-October 1992), vol. 95, no. 1, pp. 41-45, p. 45, repr. p. 42

William W. Robinson, "Abrams Dutch Drawings Given to the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Mass.", Apollo (December 1999), vol. 150, pp. 14-16, pp. 15-16, repr. p. 16, fig. 4

Bobbie Leigh and Rebecca Dimling Cochran, "The Top 100 Collectors in America", Art & Antiques (March 2003), vol. 26, no. 3, entire issue, repr. p. 79

Annemarie Stefes, Niederländische Zeichnungen 1450-1850: Kupferstichkabinett der Hamburger Kunsthalle, ed. Andreas Stolzenburg and Hubertus Gaßner, Böhlau Verlag (Cologne, 2011), vol. 1, under cat. no. 29, p. 79 (n. 2)

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. 39, pp. 142-144, repr. p. 143

Exhibition History

Jacques de Gheyn II 1565-1629 drawings, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 12/14/1985 - 02/09/1986; National Gallery of Art, Washington, 03/09/1986 - 05/11/1986

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

In the Holland Garden: 17th and 18th Century Dutch Works on Paper, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 05/20/2000 - 10/29/2000

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

Mirror of Holland: Drawings from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 11/20/2010 - 03/06/2011

32Q: 2300 Dutch & Flemish, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/08/2017 - 01/17/2018

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

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