© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

A group of 44 etchings known as the “Small Landscapes” appeared in two series, dated 1559 and 1561. These innovative prints show intimate views of the local countryside around Antwerp based on studies from life. They anticipate by more than 50 years the naturalistic approach to the representation of landscape developed by 17th-century Dutch artists. Twelve drawings that served as direct models for prints in the two series have survived, and eight of similar dimensions and handling, including this work, are by the same hand but were not reproduced as prints. The draftsman remains unidentified. Like most of the drawings in the group, this one was executed in two campaigns. The walls and buildings were studied—presumably on site—in a lighter brown ink, while the bleaching field and figures were added in a darker tone. Examination with infrared light distinguishes the separate campaigns.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Master of the Small Landscapes, Netherlandish (active c. 1560)
Women Bleaching Linen Near a Walled Town
Work Type
16th century
Physical Descriptions
Two kinds of brown ink over black chalk on cream antique laid paper, lined with Japanese paper
13.4 x 20.5 cm (5 1/4 x 8 1/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: lower left, brown ink: . . brughel fec.
  • inscription: former repair, brown ink: Wam bandvy Jams. [?]
  • inscription: verso, center, brown ink: Pbreughel (Pierre) le Jeune [overwritten by "Vieux"], dit d'Enfer [crossed out] [entire line underlined] / h = 0,"132 L = 0,"203 / Dessin acheté [illegible] a mon frère Paul Emile à / Avesnes en 1891 / C. Gasc
  • inscription: verso, under lining, upper left, red chalk: S.P.
  • inscription: verso, under lining, lower left, graphite: P. Breughel Ecole Flamande
  • watermark: none
  • inscription: verso, lower right, graphite: 10
  • collector's mark: lower right, red ink, stamp: L. 543 (Charles Gasc)
  • inscription: verso, under lining, upper right, graphite: P. Brueghel / fec [?] / (le vieux) / 17 [?]
  • inscription: upper left, brown ink: 1 [?]
  • inscription: upper right, brown ink: 52
Charles Gasc, Paris (L. 543, lower right, and L. 1068, verso, center), sold; to Amédée-Paul-Emile Gasc, Avesnes (L. 1131, without his mark). [Kate de Rothschild, London], sold; to Seiden and Cuevas, Inc., New York, later Vermeer Associates Limited, Brampton, Ontario, sold; to Harvard University Art Museums, 1994; The Kate, Maurice R. and Melvin R. Seiden Special Purchase Fund, 1994.137
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, The Kate, Maurice R. and Melvin R. Seiden Special Purchase Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Reinhard Liess, "Die Kleinen Landschaften Pieter Bruegels D.A. im Lichte seines Gesamtwerk", Kunsthistorisches Jahrbuch Graz, Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (Graz, Austria, 1982), vol. XVIII, no. 3, pp. 159-160, repr. fig. 217

John Oliver Hand, J. R. Judson, and William W. Robinson, The Age of Bruegel: Netherlandish Drawings in the Sixteenth Century, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art/Cambridge University Press (Washington, D.C. and Cambridge, England, 1986), under cat. no. 87, p. 230 (n. 6)

Karel G. Boon, The Netherlandish and German Drawings of the XVth and XVIth Centuries of the Frits Lugt Collection (Paris, France, 1992), p. 91 (n. 13)

Nadine Orenstein and Manfred Sellink, Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Drawings and Prints, exh. cat., ed. Nadine Orenstein, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT and London, England, 2001), cat. no. 135, pp. 289, 297 and 299 (n. 5) and 24, 33, and 39 (n. 108), under cat. no. 32, p. 132, under cat. no. 124, p. 274, repr. p. 289

Reinhard Liess, Jan Vermeer van Delft, Pieter Bruegel d. Ä., Rogier van der Weyden. Drei Studien zur niederländischen Kunst., V&R Unipress (Göttingen, 2004), pp. 65, 77, and 79

W. Th. Kloek and Bert W. Meijer, ed., Bruegel, Rubens et leurs contemporains. Dessins nordiques du Musée des Offices à Florence, exh. cat., Fondation Custodia (Paris, 2008), under cat. no. 15, pp. 28-30

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. 18; cat. no. 57, pp. 198-200, repr. p. 199 and p. 198 as fig. 1 (IR image)

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

Northern Renaissance Art: Selected Works, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 02/28/1984 - 04/08/1984

Prints and Drawings from the Time of Holbein and Breugel, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 11/21/1985 - 01/12/1986

Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Drawings and Prints, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 05/24/2001 - 08/05/2001; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 09/25/2001 - 12/02/2001

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