This catalogue, dedicated to the memory of Frans Baudouin, is a great achievement. Teréz Gerszi, the doyenne of Dutch and Flemish drawings at the Szépmüvészeti Múzeum and now curator emerita , is to be congratulated for finishing a publication that was begun decades earlier. Associated with the museum since 1951 and former head of the collection of Prints and Drawings, Gerszi published widely on Paulus van Vianen, on the artists around Rudolf II in Prague, and on Bruegel and his age. The catalogue now complements two earlier ones of the museum’s drawings collections, one again by Teréz Gerszi on the sixteenth-century Netherlandish drawings, published in two volumes in 1971, and Andrea Czére’s 2004 catalogue of the seventeenth -century Italian drawings.
Research on the seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish drawings began with Edith Hoffmann in the 1920s and 1930s, which resulted in several exhibitions in the 1930s and ended with the one on copies and fakes in 1944. Her extensive research is acknowledged throughout in the concise and informative catalogue entries. Teréz Gerszi first drew attention to the museum’s outstanding collection of Dutch and Flemish drawings thirty years ago, in 1976, with her book on 64 masterpieces of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, published in several languages and with a second edition in 1983. The present complete catalogue describes all 350 Dutch and Flemish works, reproduced either in black and white or – for the more important examples – in fine color. The drawings are discussed in alphabetical order by artist, with copies included in the main text of the corpus after the catalogue entries of the respective artists. A good many drawings are signed, several are dated.
The greater part of the Szépmüvészeti Múzeum’s collection of paintings, drawings, and prints came from the Esterházy collection, created during the first three decades of the nineteenth century by Prince Nicholas Esterházy (1765-1833). The prince was aided in his collecting by the Viennese engraver Joseph Fischer until the latter’s death in 1822. In 1810 the prince acquired from the Italian painter Antonio Cesare Poggi (1744-ca. 1836) a collection comprising hundreds of drawings in return for a life annuity of 3000 francs. Although largely Italian, there were some forty Dutch drawings in the group. Today they are primarily identified thanks to Poggi’s collector’s mark. A number of sheets with the collector’s mark of Sir Joshua Reynolds may also have come to Budapest via Poggi who may have acquired them in Paris.
In 1870 the heirs of Prince Esterházy sold his collection – 3,535 drawings, over 51,000 prints, 305 illustrated books, and 637 paintings – to the Hungarian State. The works were housed in the newly built palace of the Academy of Sciences, which was then renamed the National Picture Gallery and soon after became the Museum of Fine Arts. In the present catalogue, 213 or more than half of the 350 drawings discussed come from the Esterházy collection, identified primarily by the prince’s collector’s mark (Lugt 1965). About forty Dutch drawings joined the museum from the collection of the painter István Delhaes (1845-1901), the restorer of the collection of the Princes of Liechtenstein. During the late 1950s, a large number of drawings that had lain forgotten in the museum were identified on the basis of their respective collector’s marks as coming from the Esterházy or Delhaes collection.
The number of reattributions from the time the drawings were in the Esterházy collection is staggering and shows the enormous work that went into this publication. A case in point is the Susanna and the Elders, now attributed to Barend Fabritius (no. 73). Given to Rembrandt in the Esterházy collection, Bode (1908) classified it as a copy but Hofstede de Groot (1921) resurrected it, while Benesch (1954-57) and Sumowski (1957-58) saw in it a pupil’s work; Wegner (1967-68) was the first to suggest Fabritius, an attribution that has held. The thirty-six Rembrandt drawings that came with the Esterházy collection have now been reduced to six highly acclaimed originals, among them the often reproduced Saskia sitting by a Window, the Woman with a Child Frightened by a Dog, two studies of a Dutch Farmhouse and the Portrait of Lieven Willemsz. van Coppenol (nos. 201-206), while an additional Hilly Landscape with Houses and Watermill was identified as an anonymous sixteenth-century Venetian drawing that Rembrandt retouched (no. 207). The Standing Female Nude Seen from Behind(no. 208), still proudly exhibited among the Budapest masterpieces as an original in 1985 in Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles (no. 78), is here attributed to a Rembrandt pupil with corrections by the master. Twenty further studies once believed to be by Rembrandt are now relegated to the Rembrandt school (nos. 209-28), with another eleven catalogued as anonymous copies (nos. 230-40; one of the lions, no. 237, apparently is drawn over Picart’s etching published in 1729). A drawing of Two Old Men that Otto Benesch accepted as a Rembrandt original (V, no. 1087, fig. 1307) is now attributed to Willem Drost, following an opinion by Martin Royalton-Kisch (verbally; no. 61). More recently, Peter Schatborn (verbally, 1998) suggested ‘possibly Anthonie van Borssom’ (no. 153) for a sheet with the Mocking of Ceres that Teréz Gerszi attributes to Johannes Leupenius, while she rejects his proposal of Samuel van Hoogstraten (no. 160) for the study of St. Peter Finding the Coin in the Fish in favor of Nicolas Maes?.
Of interest besides the Rembrandt group are several small pen sketches of figures, dancing nymphs, of Christ Carrying the Cross and the Three Graces by Hendrick Goudt (nos. 87-99). The collection also includes seventeen sheets that once were part of a sketchbook originally believed to by Jan van Goyen but now attributed to a follower (nos. 105-121). Pieter Quast is represented by a handful of drawings, among them a Dutch Market Scene and an Illustration of a Proverb besides some single figures (nos. 192–197). The scholar who seems to have had the most impact in helping with the difficult task of reattributing the museum’s seventeenth-century Dutch drawings was J.Q. van Regteren Altena during a visit in 1969. Thanks to Andrea Czére’s work on the seventeenth-century Italian drawings, several sheets were moved from the Italian to the Dutch and Flemish schools, among them a Mountain Landscape by the Dordrecht artist Adriaen Honich (Lossenbruy) (no. 127) and a compositional sketch for Saint Dominic as Protector of Cremona with a detailed study of the saint in red chalk on the verso, here reattributed to Robert de Longe (Uberto La Longe) in accordance with an earlier annotation (no. 157). Andrea Czére identified several studies by Valentin Lefbre (nos. 145-48), to which Nicholas Turner added yet another sheet (verbally; no. 149). Three landscape drawings originally attributed to Poussin or Claude are now given to Herman van Swanevelt (nos. 274-76).
Equally noteworthy among the Dutch sheets are an outstanding Adriaen van Ostade study of a Dutch Peasant Family (no. 177), Jan Both’s signed Forest Landscape of 1643, his first dated work after his return from Italy (no. 28); five drawings formerly listed as Jan Frans van Bloemen that are now reclassified as Johannes Jansz Collaert (nos. 52-56); and Frans van Mieris’s Young Man Sharpening his Pen (no. 163), a drawing that Otto Naumann had rejected in 1978 in his catalogue raisonné of the artist, is here returned to Van Mieris, partly because Naumann changed his opinion (verbally; 1995). Gerszi also favors Cornelis van Poelenburch for the Rocky Hillside (no. 184) over Alan Chong who saw in it the work of a pupil (Master Drawings,vol.25, 1987, pp. 3-62, no. 138). The Large Trees along a Road (no. 257), an unpublished drawing formerly given to Aelbert Cuyp is now firmly attributed to Franois Ryckhals based on research by Egbert Haverkamp Begemann (verbally; 2000), while two additional sheets originally also considered as Cuyp are catalogued as Anthonie Waterloo (nos. 306-07). Finally, the gray wash in Jacob Meeting Laban’s Shepherds, attributed to Van den Eeckhout with a question mark (no. 70), was likely added at a later date.
In the process of cataloguing a respectable number of drawings were found that had been mislaid in the museum. Many of these unpublished drawings are copies after known artists or listed among the 35 that remain anonymous (nos. 316-50). Of interest among them are three small pen sketches by Jan de Bisschop (18-20) that now join the artist’s imposing portrait of a seated young lady, formerly attributed to Caspar Netscher (no. 17). The group also includes examples by Cornelis Saftleven (no. 261), Herman Saftleven (no. 263), Cornelis Symonsz. van der Schalcke (no. 265), and Abraham Genoels (nos. 79-81).
Among the far fewer Flemish drawings are a tender study of Rubens’s young son Albert (no. 249; see below), a drawing by Cornelis Bos of a Couple Embracing that Rubens retouched (no. 248), and an early, unusual Jordaens of The Holy Family with St. John, his Parents, and Angels (no. 136), first identified by Julius Held (verbally). Worth mentioning is a large study by Van Diepenbeeck for the so-called ‘Angels’ Gate’ (no. 58), a signed landscape by Jan Siberechts (no. 267), and a fine still life with birds by Frans Snyders (no. 268). The catalogue rectifies the attribution to Pieter van Lint of his signed Judgment of Solomon (no. 156) of 1639 that originally was classified as a Fragonard copy after Raphael.
As for the drawing of Albert Rubens (no. 249), Teréz Gerszi strongly defends Rubens’s authorship for the engaging portrait of his older son. While I certainly agree that the Budapest version is superior to the one in Vienna, as Gerszi states here and previously in a small note in the Budapest museum Bulletin (2002), I still doubt that the Budapest drawing is entirely by Rubens. [I was able to compare the two works in the small exhibition in Munich on Isabella Brant in 2003-04; in the 2004 Vienna exhibition (cats. 78, 79) the two drawings could be seen together only briefly before the Vienna version was removed.] In my opinion the black and red chalk that Gerszi observes in a close study under the wash could well be by Rubens. In appearance the original state of the work thus would be similar to the famous portrait study of Nicolaes Rubens with a Coral Necklace in the Albertina (reproduced in fig. 249/a). At a later time a rather sensitive hand added the wash and the fine pen work to give the drawing a painterly look. I cannot recognize Rubens’s hand in these additions, especially if one looks at the cross hatching and the small dots on the child’s chin. These are more reminiscent of an engraver’s work. The Albertina version is a copy after this state of the Budapest portrait as Gerszi maintains. Copies after Rubens’s drawings of his children also exist in the Hermitage and in the Copenhagen cantoor , which attest to their great appeal.
Two additional drawings are of interest for Rubens scholarship. AnAssumption of the Virgin is here catalogued as Willem Panneels (no. 183) and relates to the latter’s etching of the same subject in reverse as far as the group of apostles and holy women are concerned but, most importantly, differs completely in the rendering of the Virgin raising to heaven. According to the late Frans Baudouin (in Flemish Art in Hungary. Kon. Vlaamse Academie van België, ed. C. Van de Velde, forthcoming), it may record Rubens’s lost modello that he submitted in 1611 to the church authorities to obtain the contract for his Assumption altarpiece in Antwerp Cathedral. The drawing was recorded in the Mariette sale of 1775; its appearance and whereabouts were unknown to David Freedberg who considered it a copy after the SchleissheimAssumption ( Corpus Rubenianum , VII, no. 40.) The execution of the study has however nothing in common with Panneels’s drawings in the Copenhagen cantoor group, and although similar in composition it is not identical with the print, being larger and not traced. Accordingly, the issue of authorship continues to remain open. Baudouin attributed it to the circle of Rubens, which seems preferable. The Sacrifice of Iphigenia (no. 280), here attributed to Theodoor van Thulden, represents another record of one of the grisaille friezes on the garden faade of Rubens’s house. Baudouin suggested that the Budapest drawing might actually record Rubens’s lost original preliminary study.
For completeness’ sake I would like to mention one small Rubens addendum: in 1966, the late Michael Jaffé (Van Dyck’s Antwerp Sketchbook, vol. I, pls. XLI-XLIII) published as Rubens’s work three pen drawings of parts of a human skeleton in the Budapest museum, where they were tentatively attributed to the Spanish artist Felipe de Lia–o (1550/60-1625), an opinion he repeated in 1977 (Rubens and Italy, p. 31). This attribution apparently did not get recorded since there is no mention of it here and the drawings presumably continue to be catalogued as Spanish school.
The catalogue ends with a full bibliography, a subject index, index of former owners, and a welcome concordance of the museum’s inventory numbers with the catalogue numbers.