© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Van Vianen was born in the Dutch city of Utrecht but spent almost his entire career away from his home country, working as a goldsmith at the courts of Munich, Salzburg, and Prague. In addition to his highly inventive creations in silver and gold, Van Vianen produced a large number of landscape drawings, studied directly from life. According to the inscription at the upper right corner of the sheet, the itinerant artist observed this picturesque scene at the town of Primolano in the southeastern part of the Alps. Combining delicate pen work with translucent washes in gray and pale blue, Van Vianen rendered this Alpine townscape with an almost unprecedented sense of immediacy and ease. While his interest in topography places Van Vianen at the forefront of the move toward greater naturalism in Dutch art, his painterly and highly atmospheric approach to the subject sets him apart from his Dutch contemporaries.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Paulus van Vianen, Dutch (Utrecht 1570 - 1613 Prague)
A Village Street in Primolano
Work Type
Physical Descriptions
Brown ink, gray-brown and blue wash over traces of black chalk, with a framing line in brown ink, on cream antique laid paper
16.1 x 20 cm (6 5/16 x 7 7/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: verso, right edge, graphite: 8.
  • inscription: verso, lower right, brown ink: HF [in ligature]
  • inscription: upper right, brown ink: Primolan. / 1607
  • collector's mark: verso, lower right, blue ink stamp: L. 3306 (Maida and George Abrams)
E. Spiller, London. Sir Paul Jodrell. LeRoy M. Backus, New York and Seattle; his estate; sold [through Schaeffer Galleries, New York.] J. T. Cremer, New York. [Sotheby Mak van Waay, Amsterdam, 17 November 1980, lot 28], to [C. G. Boerner, Düsseldorf], sold; to [Seiden & DeCuevas, Inc., New York/Vermeer Associates, Brampton, Ontario], 11 June 1981, sold; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston, 1989 (L. 3306, verso, lower right); Gift of Maida and George S. Abrams in memory of Jakob Rosenberg, 1993.246.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Maida and George S. Abrams in memory of Jakob Rosenberg
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Schaeffer Galleries Bulletin, auct. cat. (New York, November 1948), cat. no. 31, n.p. (as Jan Brueghel the Elder)

Aus Unseren Mappen. Zeichnungen des 16. bis 19. Jahrhunderts, auct. cat. (Düsseldorf, Germany, 1981), cat. no. 18

Terez Gerszi, Paulus van Vianen Handzeichnungen, E. A. Seemann (Leipzig, Germany, 1982), cat. no. 81, pl. 106

Johannes Rein ter Molen, "Van Vianen een Utrechtse familie van zilversmeden met een internationale faam" (Ph.D Diss., Rijksuniversiteit te Leiden, 1984), J. R. ter Molen, vol. 2, cat. no. 273

Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, "A Census of Drawings from the Holy Roman Empire, 1540-1680, in North...", Central European History (March 1985), vol. 18, checklist, p. 110

Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, The School of Prague. Painting at the Court of Rudolf II, University of Chicago Press (Chicago and London, 1988), under no. 23, p. 286

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. 23, pp. 64-65, repr.

Exhibition History

The Backus Collection, Schaeffer Galleries, New York, 01/01/1948 - 12/31/1948

Drawings fom the Holy Roman Empire, 1540-1680, a Selection from North American Collections, Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, 10/03/1982 - 11/22/1982; National Gallery of Art, Washington, 01/27/1983 - 04/11/1983; Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, 04/23/1983 - 06/19/1983

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