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Gallery Text

Van Heemskerck had a long and successful career as a painter of altarpieces—some on a monumental scale—and other religious pictures, as well as portraits and mythological scenes. After a long sojourn in Italy (1532–36/37), where he studied the art of Michelangelo and Giulio Romano and drew copies of ancient sculpture and architecture, Van Heemskerck developed the dynamic Italianate manner that he practiced for the rest of his life.

The artist is perhaps best known as the designer of some six hundred prints. The vast majority of them reproduce detailed pen-and-ink compositions, of which Giving Drink to the Thirsty is a fine example. It was engraved in 1552 in a suite of seven plates representing The Last Judgment and Six Works of Mercy: feeding the hungry; giving drink to the thirsty; offering shelter to strangers; clothing the naked; visiting the sick; and visiting the imprisoned (Matthew 25:31–46).

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Maarten van Heemskerck, Netherlandish (1498 - 1574)
Giving Drink to the Thirsty
Work Type
Physical Descriptions
Brown ink over touches of black chalk and incidental white opaque watercolor, incised, on cream antique laid paper, framing line in brown ink over black chalk
25.6 x 20 cm (10 1/16 x 7 7/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: Dated and monogrammed, brown ink, lower edge: 15511 MVH [in ligature]
  • inscription: verso, upper center, graphite: Hamskerck XVeme Hollandais / très-rare [underlined]
  • watermark: Coat of arms, series of vertically stacked letters within shield (PTTAV[?]) and the name PPRICARd below; nearly identical to Briquet 9613 (Namur, 1547)
Probably C. Elout, sold; [Van de Vinne, Haarlem, 4 April 1780, KB A, part of lot 32]; to J. La Clé, by descent to; his widow, E. M. Brouwer, sold; [A. Engesmet, Haarlem, 25 September 1827, kb A, part of lot 32]; to Engesmet (bought in). Private Collector, Paris, sold; to [Bob P. Haboldt & Co., Paris and New York], sold; to Vermeer Associates Limited, Brampton, Ontario, 1993, sold; to Harvard University Art Museums, 1994; Purchase through the generosity of an Anonymous Donor, 1994.155.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Purchase through the generosity of an Anonymous Donor
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

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. 46, pp. 164-166, repr. p. 165; watermark p. 377

Exhibition History

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