One of sixteen catalogues of the extensive Lehman collection of paintings, sculpture, decorative arts and Islamic and Asian art, this volume covers the 153 European drawings that were brought together by Philip and Robert Lehman in the early and mid-twentieth century. The collection includes many works of great significance, among them Dürer’s famous Self Portrait (1493) with studies of pillows on the verso, as well as his Fortuna (1498), one of the artist’s first drawings from a model. Among the Dutch and Flemish drawings are Rubens’s pen study of the bust of Pseudo-Seneca (later reproduced by Vorstermans), and seven Rembrandts, including a Last Supper after Leonardo, and one of the poignant sketches of the hanging of Elsje Christiaens. Work on the catalogue, which has spanned two decades, was divided among specialists on Central European, Netherlandish, French and English drawings.
The twenty-one entries on fifteenth- and sixteenth-century German, Austrian and Swiss drawings were written by Fritz Koreny. This portion of the catalogue shows consistently solid research and foresight, as its diverse entries form a cohesive whole. Catalogue texts on the early to mid-fifteenth-century drawings provide a context for understanding these rare examples, by explaining questions of technique and function, stylistic and iconographic traditions, and other essential background. Entries on the drawings of Schongauer, Dürer, Hans Baldung Grien, Sebald Beham and other figures investigate the roles of particular genres or themes within the work of an individual or an artistic circle. The comprehensive nature of the Central European entries and their rich comparative illustrations give the reader not only information about individual works but also a capsule history of drawing in this region.
The Netherlandish and Dutch and Flemish drawings, 82 in all, represent by far the largest section within the catalogue. These entries were written entirely by Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, who acknowledges contributions from many of his students. Highlights among the earliest works include a circle of Rogier van der Weyden study for a capital of Men Shovelling Chairs, an unusual anonymous drawing of a Bear Hunt which may be related to Brussels tapestry manufacture. These and the Rubens, Rembrandt and Rembrandt School drawings are the subjects of in-depth and imaginative catalogue essays.
As one moves through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, however, one finds interesting drawings given brief treatment, in a way that suggests old canons of taste but is also idiosyncratic for the genre of the drawings catalogue. Some examples are short entries on drawings that invite explorations of subject matter and symbolic motifs, such as the anonymous Leiden Parable of the Beam and the Mote (28), the wonderful Heemskerck drawing of Jael for the print series of Eight Exemplary Women from the Old and New Testament,or the drawings by or after Jacob Jordaens. In another instance, while rich background is provided on the anonymous artist of catalogue no. 27 and his other known works, the page-full of Latin writing on its verso remains undeciphered. Whether or not the text sheds light on the drawing or its maker, it is a document of the period and as much part of the sheet as is the drawing. A transcription might be included somewhere in the catalogue entry.
In closing, a few comments to add to two entries. In reference to Spranger’s drawing of Venus and Amor (cat. 33), the dating of c.1601 or later proposed by Oberhuber and Kaufmann seems to be the most persuasive, as Venus does suggest the sculptures of Adriaen de Vries, who arrived in Prague in that year, and both figures reflect the ‘stockier, more rounded forms’ (Kaufmann’s words) of Spranger’s late drawings. The appearance of auricular style vessels at lower right is also a very telling indicator of date (early seventeenth century). In addition, loose resemblances in motif or pose, such as those seen in the much earlier Besançon drawing of the Penitent Magdalen or in the Allegory on the Reign of Rudolf II are common among Spranger works of disparate dates. In fact, I would attribute Venus’ pose in this drawing to Spranger’s by now distant recollections of the ‘Crouching Venus’ statues that he would have seen years before in Rome (c.1566-1575). This striking antique type existed in at least four different versions in Roman collections. Further, the reproductive print illustrated in this entry is not by Aegidius Sadeler, but rather a copy after that print by Hans Lederer. It was published earlier in connection with the drawing by George Szabo in a 1978 article cited elsewhere in the catalogue but not in this entry.
Finally, some information regarding one of the many works that Begemann has brought in for comparison with Rembrandt’s intriguingSatire on Art Criticism (cat. 70) – a painting by Joachim von Sandrart which bears the same date (1644), and represents Minerva and Saturn Protecting Art and Science against Envy and Deceit. According to the author, the shared dating might ‘indicate that a specific event or specific circumstances were troubling artists in 1644, but none have been identified’. Probably true, as Sandrart’s cultural and political horizons differed from Rembrandt’s. He was of noble birth and better acquainted than Rembrandt with court life and with international circles of artists, scholars and patrons. At the same time, he was also a refugee from the Thirty Years’ War. Sandrart made his painting for Leopold Wilhelm, Archduke of the Southern Netherlands. Its subject is linked to the theme of the protection of the arts in time of war, as seen in many art works made for a Habsburg ancestor of Leopold and an equally great art patron, Emperor Rudolf II. Rudolf had overseen the struggles against the Turks from the distance of his rich collections in Prague Castle; in the course of 1644, Leopold Wilhelm retired as Commander in Chief of Austrian forces and turned his attention to the creation of a spectacular painting gallery. Therefore, Sandrart’s painting belongs to the politically charged idiom of Habsburg allegories, from which motifs and symbols, stripped of their political references, were drawn by Rubens, Houbraken (fig. 70.7), and other Flemish and Dutch artists.
St. Lawrence University