- Gallery Text
This spectacular sheet served as the model for an engraving published around 1610, but the drawing may date from several years earlier. The contours have been incised for transfer to the engraving plate, and the print reproduces the design in reverse and bears an inscription that identifies De Gheyn as author of the composition. The Latin and Dutch verses in the print elaborate obliquely on the sexual imagery of the scene. In 16th- and 17th-century Dutch art and literature, milkmaids had a reputation for easy virtue, and this saucy peasant woman, having donned the crossbowman’s hat, assists him in aiming his bolt, which is conspicuously aligned with his distended codpiece.
- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
Jacques de Gheyn II, Dutch (Antwerp, Netherlands 1565 - 1629 The Hague, Netherlands)
- Crossbowman Assisted by a Milkmaid
- Work Type
- c. 1600-1610
- Physical Descriptions
- Brown ink, gray and brown wash over black and red chalk on off-white antique laid paper, incised, framing line in brown ink, mounted on a gilt and hand-colored mount of blue paper
- 39 x 32.5 cm (15 3/8 x 12 13/16 in.)
mount: 43.7 x 37.8 cm (17 3/16 x 14 7/8 in.)
framed: 73 x 61 cm (28 3/4 x 24 in.)
- Inscriptions and Marks
- watermark: none visible
- Perhaps Samuel van Huls, The Hague, sold; [The Hague, Swart, 14 May 1736 and following days, lot I. 365]. Perhaps Jeronimus Tonneman, Amsterdam, sold; [Amsterdam, De Leth, 21 October 1754 and following days, lot H. 74]; to Rostaart. Martin Folkes, London, sold; [Langford, London, 15 January 1756 and following days, sixth night’s sale, lot 39.] [Blumka Gallery, New York], sold; to Meta and Paul J. Sachs, Cambridge, Mass. (without his mark, L. 2091); Gift of Meta and Paul J. Sachs, 1953.86
- 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. 40 by William W. Robinson:
About 1601, Jacques de Gheyn left Leiden and settled in the Hague. After the move he gave up engraving and did not undertake new print publishing initiatives, but he remained active as a draftsman and designer of prints.3 This spectacular sheet served as the model for an engraving attributed to Andries Jacobsz. Stock and published by Nicolaes de Clerck in Delft around 1610 (Fig. 1).4 The contours have been incised for transfer to the plate, and the print reproduces the design in reverse and bears an inscription that identifies De Gheyn as author of the composition. Although usually regarded as roughly contemporaneous with Stock’s engraving, the drawing may date from several years earlier.5
The Latin and Dutch verses in the print elaborate obliquely on the sexual imagery of the scene.6 In sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Dutch art and literature, milkmaids had a reputation for easy virtue,7 and this saucy peasant woman, having donned the crossbowman’s hat, assists him in aiming his bolt, which is conspicuously aligned with his distended codpiece. In the meadow, the same couple embraces intimately, although there the archer wears his own hat. The Dutch couplet admonishes women not to be deceived by men “who are always taking aim.” Not one to heed this advice, the milkmaid speaks in the Latin verses, encouraging the crossbowman to “aim your bow with tautened string, so that you strike what is swollen squarely with the point. / Behold, I support your elbows with both hands / So that, while aiming, you can say all the more assuredly: / ‘A maiden, too, gives good advice.’” As Leo Wuyts argued in a study that attempted to decode the double entendre of her words, the artist’s contemporaries presumably grasped their frankly erotic allusions more readily than we do.8
The archer depicted head-on and aiming at the viewer served an admonitory function in northern European art long before De Gheyn adapted the figure to a comic context, and the artist was not the only one of his time to do so.9 In a print by Pieter Serwouters after a design by David Vinckboons, a kneeling crossbowman points his weapon at us while an owl defecates from a tree. We, the bowman’s quarry, know that the owl has targeted him, but he remains unaware of it. The same Dutch couplet inscribed beneath Stock’s engraving after De Gheyn appears under the etching by Serwouters: “Beware of him who is always taking aim, / That you are not deceived by his bow.”10 The erotic charge of De Gheyn’s composition does not figure in the Serwouters etching, but does inform a drawing from the circle of Vinckboons, which incorporates many of the same elements. A crossbowman—kneeling, as in Serwouters’s print—aims at the viewer, while a milkmaid with her yoke and pails stands behind him and lovers embrace in the landscape beyond. The drawings by De Gheyn and from the circle of Vinckboons, as well as the print by Serwouters, all belong to the first decade of the seventeenth century, but none are precisely datable. Neither the similarity of their imagery nor the appearance of the same inscription in the prints by Stock and Serwouters can be coincidental, but we do not know which of these works preceded the others.11
A freely executed De Gheyn sketch now in Berlin resembles the Harvard drawing, but its date and function are uncertain (Fig. 2).12 Here, a woman in bourgeois dress stands close behind the archer and holds up a wine glass, while a dog sniffs the ground at his feet.13 The substantive differences between the compositions make it unlikely that the Berlin sketch is a preliminary study for the Harvard sheet.14 It is probably a (somewhat later?) variant.15
1 (This note refers to the media description.) Emil Karel Josef Reznicek, “[Review] Jacques de Gheyn: Three Generations,” Oud Holland, vol. 1–2, no. 1 (1988): 78–87, p. 84, tentatively suggested this could be a mount from the collection of John Talman, but this is not the case. Stijn Alsteens (email to the author, 14 October 2011) pointed out that a drawing by Salomon de Bray in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2003.91) is on a very similar mount, which is very likely by the same mount maker and may indicate that the Met’s De Bray and Harvard’s De Gheyn belonged to the same (nineteenth-century?) collection. The cartouche at the bottom of the mount in the Metropolitan Museum is inscribed with the artist’s name and the date of the drawing, which are written by the artist on the drawing itself. The cartouche at the top of the Harvard drawing bears only a sketchy architectural design.
2 (This note refers to the provenance.) The Van Huls and Tonneman provenance may instead refer to a drawing of the same subject in Berlin (see Fig. 2). I. Q. van Regteren Altena, Jacques de Gheyn: Three Generations (The Hague, Boston, and London, 1983), vol. 2, cats. II 216–217, p. 55.
3 Jan Piet Filedt Kok and Marjolein Leesberg in New Hollstein, De Gheyn Family, part 1, p. xxxvi.
4 Andries Jacobsz. Stock(?), after Jacques de Gheyn II, Crossbowman with a Milkmaid (Fig. 1). Engraving. 412 × 328 mm. London, British Museum, 1878,0713.2636. Inscribed, in the first state, IDGheijn inv. N. de Clerck ex. Jan Piet Filedt Kok, “Jacques de Gheyn II: Engraver, Designer, and Publisher,” Print Quarterly, vol. 7, no. 3 (Sept. 1990): 248–81 and vol. 7, no. 4 (Dec. 1990): 370–96, cat. 108, p. 379; Filedt Kok and Leesberg, part 1, under no. 156, p. 237. For an engraved variant of the Stock print with only the Dutch couplet (not the Latin verses) beneath the image (see n. 5), see Van Regteren Altena, vol. 2, p. 56, repr.
5 I agree with Jakob Rosenberg (“A Drawing by Jacques de Gheyn,” The Art Quarterly, vol. 17, Summer 1954: 166–71, p. 167), who rightly compared its technique to the models for the engravings in The Exercise of armes, which may have originated as early as 1598 (see 2011.512). Rosenberg suggested that Crossbowman Assisted by a Milkmaid is somewhat later, implying a date in the first years of the new century. Van Regteren Altena (vol. 2, cat. II 217, p. 56) dated both the drawing and print to circa 1610, and his dating was accepted by Filedt Kok (under cat. 108, p. 379), Reznicek (“Jacques de Gheyn II,” in The Dictionary of Art, ed. Jane Turner (New York, 1996), vol. 12: 529–32, p. 531), and Ger Luijten (Eddy de Jongh and Ger Luijten, Mirror of Everyday Life: Genre Prints in the Netherlands 1550–1700, Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, 1997, under cat. 21, p. 129).
6 The verses consist of four lines of Latin text and two in Dutch: Tiro tuos tensis sic arcus dirige nervis; / Ut medio ferias cespite quod tumuit. / Quin manibus cubitos ambabus fulcio, dicas / Certius ut limans. Et bene virgo docet. / Wacht u voor hem, die alsins mickt, / Dat sijnen boogh, u niet verklickt. Ger Luijten (p. 129) translated the Latin verse. The Dutch lines read in translation, “Beware of him who is always taking aim, / That you are not deceived by his bow.” R. Adèr, “De boogschutter en het meisje,” in Boymans bijdragen: Opstellen van medewerkers en oud‑medewerkers van het Museum Boymans‑van Beuningen voor J. C. Ebbinge Wubben (Stichting Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 1978): 59–64, p. 60. Ger Luijten in De Jongh and Luijten, p. 131.
7 On the alleged promiscuity of milkmaids, see Luijten in De Jongh and Luijten, p. 131, and Leo Wuyts, “Lucas van Leydens ‘Melkmeid’: Een proeve tot ikonologische interpretatie,” Bijdragen tot de geschiedenis van de grafische kunst opgedragen aan Prof. Dr. Louis Lebeer ter gelegenheid van zijn tachtigste verjaardag (Antwerp, 1975), pp. 441–53.
8 Leo Wuyts (“De blauwe schutter: Een onderzoek naar de betekenis van de prent. Een boogschutter en een melkmeid naar een ontwerp van Jacques De Gheyn II,” Flandrica, vol. 13, 1997: 115–60, p. 120) proposes a translation and interpretation of the Latin verses as a seventeenth-century Latinist might have read them, including their erotic double meaning. His paraphrase in modern Dutch can be translated roughly as follows: “Pitiful lover, since your (bow)string is taut, aim your bow so that you penetrate my thing, in the middle of my bush, longing for satisfaction. I will help you beforehand as much as I can, so that you can be a better lover and say, Indeed, a girl who has never done it teaches me a good way (of making love).” See also Ger Luijten in De Jongh an Luijten, p. 131, and J. A. Poot in A. Th. van Deursen, Emil Karel Josef Reznicek, et al., Jacques de Gheyn II, 1565–1629: Drawings (Rotterdam: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen; Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1985), p. 70 (n. 5).
9 Van Regteren Altena, vol. 2, p. 56. Ger Luijten in De Jongh and Luijten, pp. 131–32.
10 Ger Luijten in De Jongh and Luijten, p. 131.
11 To compare the works, see ibid.
12 Jacques de Gheyn II, Crossbowman and Woman Raising a Glass (Fig. 2). Brown ink over black chalk. 244 × 178 mm. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, KdZ 2458, recto. Van Regteren Altena, vol. 2, cat. II 216, p. 55, repr. vol. 3, pl. 328.
13 A dog appears in the same location and a similar pose in the print by Serwouters after Vinckboons, and also in the drawing from the Vinckboons circle.
14 Claudia Swan, “The Preparation for the Sabbath by Jacques de Gheyn II: The Issue of Inversion,” Print Quarterly, vol. 16, no. 4 (1999): 327–39, p. 337, regarded the Berlin sketch as a study for the Harvard drawing. Van Regteren Altena (vol. 2, under cat. II 216, p. 55) argued that the Berlin drawing postdated the Stock engraving, in part because it is in the same orientation as the print and should thus have been based upon it.
15 Van Regteren Altena (vol. 2, cat. II 216, p. 55) dated the Berlin sketch to circa 1616, but its technique closely resembles that of drawings that he dated to soon after 1600, such as A High Priest and His Servant (Van Regteren Altena, vol. 2, cat. II 53, p. 28, repr. vol. 3, pl. 306).
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Meta and Paul J. Sachs
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- European and American Art
- The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.
- Decorated paper border.
- Publication History
Jakob Rosenberg, "A Drawing by Jacques de Gheyn", The Art Quarterly (Summer 1954), vol. XVII, pp. 166-171, pp. 166-71, repr. pp. 169-170, figs. 1, 3, and 4
An Exhibition of Dutch and Flemish Drawings and Watercolors, checklist, Unpublished (1954), cat. no. 42, p. 11
Fogg Art Museum Annual Report, 1953-1954, 1954, p. 27
Highlights from the Collections of the Fogg Museum and Harvard Alumni of St. Louis, exh. cat., City Art Museum of St. Louis (St. Louis, 1964), cat. no. 9, n.p.
Agnes Mongan, Memorial Exhibition: Works of Art from the Collection of Paul J. Sachs [1878-1965] : given and bequeathed to the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, exh. cat., Harvard University (Cambridge, MA, 1965), cat. no. 17, n.p., repr., and p. 206
Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings from the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY, 1967), cat. no. 11
Stephen E. Ostrow, Visions and Revisions, exh. cat., Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art (Providence, 1968), cat. no. XV 1, p. 34, repr. pl. XV, fig. 1
Vassar College Art Gallery, Dutch Mannerism: Apogee and Epilogue, exh. cat., Vassar College Art Gallery (Poughkeepsie, NY, 1970), cat. no. 41, pp. 37-38, repr. pl. 32, fig. 41
Franklin W. Robinson, Seventeenth Century Dutch Drawings from American Collections, exh. cat., International Exhibitions Foundation (Washington, D.C, 1977), cat. no. 7, pp. xiii, xiv, and 10-11, repr.
R. Adèr, "De boogschutter en het meisje", Boymans bijdragen; opstellen van medewerkers en oud-medewerkers van het Museum Boymans-van Beuningen voor J.C. Ebbinge Wubben, Stichting Museum Boymans-van Beuningen (Rotterdam, 1978), pp. 59-64, pp. 59 and 64
Konrad Oberhuber, European Master Drawings of Six Centuries from the Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., National Museum of Western Art (Tokyo, 1979), cat. no. 47, n.p., repr. pl. 47
[Reproduction only], "Calendar", Harvard University Gazette, (December 12, 1980)., repr. pp. 8-9
The Draughtsman at Work. Drawing in the Golden Century of Dutch Art, checklist (unpublished, 1980), no. 36
Liam Hudson, Bodies of Knowledge, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, 1982), repr. pl. 7
I. Q. van Regteren Altena, Jacques de Gheyn: Three Generations, M. Nijhoff Publishers (The Hague, Boston and London, 1983), vol. 1, p. 99, vol. 2, cat. no. II 217, pp. 55-56, repr. vol. 3, p. 187, pl. 373
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. 64 and under cat. no. 65, pp. 69-70, repr. fig. 64
Peter C. Sutton, A Guide to Dutch Art in America, Netherlands-American Amity Trust and Eerdmans (Washington, D.C. and Grand Rapids, MI, 1986), p. 39, repr. fig. 50
Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), no. 268, p. 230, repr.
Emil Karel Josef Reznicek, "[Review] Jacques de Gheyn Three Generations", Oud Holland (1988), vol. 1-2, no. 1, pp. 78-87, p. 84
Jan Piet Filedt Kok, "Jacques de Gheyn II: Engraver, Designer, and Publisher -- II, A Catalogue", Print Quarterly (December 1990), vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 370 - 396, under cat. no. 108, p. 379
[Reproduction only], "Structure-Based Drug Design: an End to Trail and Error?", Harvard Science Review, (Winter 1993)., repr. p. 22
Ger Luijten, ed., Dawn of the golden age: northern Netherlandish art, 1580-1620, exh. cat., Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and Waanders Uitgevers (Amsterdam and Zwolle, 1993), under cat. no. 282, pp. 610-11
Philipp Ackermann, Textfunktion und Bild in Genreszenen der niederländischen Graphik des 17. Jahrhunderts, Verlag Und Datenbank Für Geisteswissenschaften (Alfter, 1993), p. 155, repr. p. 207, fig. XIV.1
F. W. H. Hollstein, The New Hollstein : Dutch & Flemish etchings, engravings, and woodcuts, 1450-1700, Koninklijke van Poll, Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, and Sound + Vision Publishers (Roosendall, Rotterdam, and Ouderkerk aan den IJssel, 1993 - ongoing), vol. 9 (The De Gheyn Family, compiled by Jan Piet Filedt Kok and Marjolein Leesberg, 2000), part 1, under cat. no. 156, p. 237 and p. xxxvi
Andreas Hahn, "--dat zy de aanschouwers schynen te willen aanspreken" : Untersuchungen zur Rolle des Betrachters in der Niederlandischen Malerei des 17. Jahrhunderts, Tuduv-Verlagsgesellschaft (München, 1996), p. 195
Emil Karel Josef Reznicek, "Jacques de Gheyn II", The Dictionary of Art, ed. Jane Turner (1996), vol. 12, pp. 529-32, p. 531, repr.
Leo Wuyts, "De blauwe schutter: Een onderzoek naar de betekenis van de prent Een boogschutter en een melkmeid naar een ontwerp van Jacques De Gheyn II", Flandrica (1997), vol. 13, pp. 115-160, pp. 116 and 126 (n. 3), repr. p. 143, fig. 3
E. de Jongh and Ger Luijten, Mirror of everyday life: Genreprints in the Netherlands 1550-1700, exh. cat., Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and Snoeck Decajou & Zoon (Amsterdam/Ghent, 1997), under cat. no. 21, pp. 129 and 132 (n. 1)
Claudia Swan, The Preparation for the Sabbath by Jacques de Gheyn II: The Issue of Inversion, Print Quarterly (1999), vol. XVI, no. 4, pp. 327-339, pp. 331 and 337, repr. p. 333, fig. 177
Fine Prints from Six Centuries, auct. cat. (London/New York, 2003), under cat. no. 36, n.p.
"Gheyn, de: Jacques de Gheyn II", website, 2007
British Museum collections website, website, 2009, under catalogue entry for Stock/De Gheyn, Archer and Milkmaid, reg. no. 1878,0713.2636
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), p. 15; cat. no. 40, pp. 145-147, repr. p. 146
Franklin Einspruch, Fuse Visual Art Review: A Pair of Drawing Shows at the Harvard Art Museums, The Arts Fuse ([e-journal], June 9, 2016), http://artsfuse.org/146319/fuse-visual-arts-review-a-pair-of-drawing-shows-at-the-harvard-art-museums/, accessed June 9, 2016
- Exhibition History
An Exhibition of Dutch and Flemish Drawings and Watercolors, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/01/1954 - 04/30/1954
The Drawing, Pomona College Gallery, 09/22/1960 - 10/16/1960
Highlights from the Collection of the Fogg Art Museum and Harvard Alumni of St. Louis, City Art Museum of St. Louis, St. Louis, 01/30/1964 - 03/01/1964
Memorial Exhibition: Works of Art from the Collection of Paul J. Sachs [1878-1965] Given and Bequeathed to the Fogg Art Museum Harvard University Cambridge, Massachusetts, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 11/15/1965 - 01/15/1966; Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York, 12/19/1966 - 02/26/1967
Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings from the Fogg Art Museum, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, 05/08/1967 - 06/11/1967
Visions and Revisions, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, 10/18/1968 - 11/24/1968
Dutch Mannerism: Apogee and Epilogue, Vassar College Art Gallery, Poughkeepsie, 04/15/1970 - 06/07/1970
Seventeenth Century Dutch Drawings from American Collections, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 01/30/1977 - 03/13/1977; Denver Art Museum, Denver, 04/01/1977 - 05/15/1977; Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, 06/01/1977 - 07/15/1977
European Master Drawings of Six Centuries from the Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 11/03/1979 - 12/16/1979
The Draughtsman at Work. Drawing in the Golden Century of Dutch Art, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 11/21/1980 - 01/04/1981
Jacques de Gheyn II 1565-1629 drawings, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 03/09/1986 - 05/11/1986
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 email@example.com