© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Aert Schouman, Dutch (Dordrecht, Netherlands 1710 - 1792 The Hague, Netherlands)
Study of a Lupine
Work Type
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Transparent and opaque watercolor on cream antique laid paper, framing line in brown ink
43.7 x 27.4 cm (17 3/16 x 10 13/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: lower right, brown ink: A: Schouman. 1753.
  • inscription: lower left, brown ink: V. 33
  • inscription: verso, lower left, graphite [erased]: 98
  • inscription: verso, lower center, graphite: 159
  • inscription: verso, lower right, graphite: 242
  • inscription: lower left, graphite: 28
  • inscription: lower right, graphite: 73
  • inscription: verso, upper right, blue ballpoint ink: 47/13
  • inscription: verso, lower left, graphite: Lupinus Cerulens major.
  • inscription: verso, lower right, brown ink: 4
  • watermark: I VILLEDARY; variant of Heawood 1826 (England [Kent], 1741) and 1829A (Holland, 1743); the Jean Villedary dynasty of papermakers was active in Angoumois (Vraichamp, Beauvais, and La Couronne), 1668–1758, and in Gelderland (Hattem), 1758–1812 (see Churchill, p. 21)
Mr. W. Baron van Heeckeren van Kell, Ruurlo Castle, The Netherlands. [Gerard Meijer, Rotterdam], sold; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston, 1980; gift of Maida and George S. Abrams in appreciation of Professor John Rosenfield's many contributions to the Fogg Museum while serving as its Director (1983-85), 1985.196
Published Text
Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums
William W. Robinson and Susan Anderson
Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2016)

Catalogue entry no. 82 by Susan Anderson:

Dordrecht native Aert Schouman, a man of many talents, led a prolific and varied career. His watercolors and paintings range from portraits and historical subjects to botanical and zoological sheets (especially birds) to finished copies after admired works of the Golden Age. He created site-specific, decorative wall panels, which were especially in vogue during the eighteenth century, and he painted and etched glass—skills he learned from his friend Frans Greenwood (1680–1763). He undertook a lengthy, eight-year apprenticeship with the painter Adriaan van der Burg (1693–1733) and set up residence in the Hague in 1748. Schouman made frequent trips to Dordrecht, as well as visits to other cities within the United Provinces, Kassel (1753), and England (1765–66 and 1775), as we know from his frequently dated topographical drawings. Not only a prolific artist, Schouman was an active teacher, both privately and within the context of the drawing society Pictura, in both the Hague and Dordrecht. Like many of his fellow artists, he participated in the art trade as both collector and dealer.1 Within the medium of watercolor, especially, Schouman brought traditionally scientific subjects into the arena of aesthetic and picturesque representation.

Schouman’s botanical drawings—in contrast to his more popular portrayals of birds and topographical views—remain little recognized or studied. Of the 268 drawings of plants listed in his estate auction, only a fraction of the total are known today.2 Ranging in species from the exotic to the mundane, Schouman’s flora, like his fauna, stand proudly at the foreground of a spare landscape often marked by a distant village or harbor, and frequently in an improper habitat. Many of his surviving botanical drawings show a finished stem, indicating that they were originally drawn as specimens against a blank background over which Schouman subsequently drew, applying a few rocks at the base. Study of a Lupine, with its painterly application of watercolor and fanciful, solitary placement on a riverbank, illustrates this transformation from scientific specimen into artistic object. His inscription on the verso—translated as “large blue lupine”—confirms his ultimately aesthetic goals, as it is probably meant as a description rather than a scientific name. (The preferred scientific designation was formerly Lupinus caeruleus but is currently Lupinus formosus, variant robustus.)3

One other lupine drawing by Schouman is known; it was sold at Christie’s, Amsterdam, in 1981 (Fig. 1).4 Even though the species is recognizable in both works, Schouman composed the Christie’s drawing with a central full, sweeping stalk and a strongly horizontal background, but he balanced the Harvard lupine’s weighty, left-hand branches and angular pods with a sailboat at the right.


1 Johan van Gool, De nieuwe schouburg der nederlantsche kunstschilders en schilderessen: Waer in de levens-en kunstbedryven der tans levende en reets overleedene schilders, die van Houbraken, noch eenig ander schryver, zyn aengeteekend, verhaelt worden (The Hague, 1750–51), vol. 2, pp. 346–53; Wilfred Buckley, Aert Schouman and the Glasses that He Engraved (London, 1931), esp. pp. 11–17; Laurens J. Bol, Aart Schouman, Ingenious Painter and Draughtsman (Doornspijk, Netherlands, 1991); Charles Dumas, “Improving Old Master Drawings by Aert Schouman (1710–1792),” in Anton W. A. Boschloo et al., eds., Aemulatio: Imitation, emulation and invention in Netherlandish art from 1500 to 1800; Essays in honor of Eric Jan Sluijter (Amsterdam and Zwolle, 2011), pp. 454–70.

2 Bol, p. 77, counted twenty-two of Schouman’s botanical sheets then extant. See also the estate sale of Aert Schouman, B. Scheurleer, ’s‑Gravenhage, 10–11 December 1792, lots 477–488; Laurens J. Bol, “Aart Schouman: ‘Overkunstig schilder on olie- en waterverf,’ VII. Teken-en aquarelleerkunst: Bloemen, planten en vruchten,” Tableau, vol. 9, no. 5 (March 1987): 78–81; Charles Dumas and Robert‑Jan te Rijdt, Kleur en Raffinement: Tekeningen uit de Unicorno collectie (Amsterdam: Museum het Rembrandthuis; Dordrecht, Netherlands: Dordrechts Museum, 1994), cat. 49, pp. 109–10.

3 Thanks to Ray Angelo, associate of the Harvard University Herbarium and former curator of vascular plants, New England Botanical Club, for his assistance in identifying this plant.

4 Aert Schouman, Study of a Lupine (Fig. 1). Transparent watercolor, 402 × 255 mm. Christie’s, Amsterdam, 16 November 1981, lot 146.

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Maida and George S. Abrams in appreciation of Professor John Rosenfield's many contributions to the Fogg Museum while serving as its Director (1983-85)
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Stijn Alsteens, [Review] William W. Robinson, with Susan Anderson, "Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums", Master Drawings (Winter 2015), LIII, no. 4, pp. 531-534, p. 532

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. 82, pp. 275-277, repr. p. 276; watermark p. 381

Exhibition History

32Q: 2300 Dutch & Flemish, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 03/09/2017 - 09/08/2017

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