Abraham Bloemaert (Gorinchem 1564/66-1651 Utrecht)
Abraham Bloemaert (Gorinchem 1564/66-1651 Utrecht)

A reclining male nude with a subsidiary study of his legs: Studies for The Lamentation

Abraham Bloemaert (Gorinchem 1564/66-1651 Utrecht)
A reclining male nude with a subsidiary study of his legs: Studies for The Lamentation
with inscription 'Bloemaert'
black and white chalk, stumping, on light brown paper, the toes and hip of the upper study silhouetted, brown ink framing lines
5 ¾ x 10 3/8 in. (14.6 x 26.3 cm.)
Edward Vernon Utterson (1775/6-1856) (L. 909); Sotheby's, London, 29 April 1852, part of lot 285 ('Dead Christ, in chalk; Female in a landscape, pen and bistre'; 6 guineas to Gibbs).
Anonymous sale; Lair-Dubreuil, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 26 June 1913, lot 9 ('Bloemaert, Abr. 9. Etude pour un Christ mort. Crayon. Signé. Collection E. Utterson. L. 296 H. 144').
Anonymous sale; Lair-Dubreuil and Albinet, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 3 March 1928, lot 157.
with Nicolaas Beets (1878-1963), Amsterdam, from whom purchased by I.Q. van Regteren Altena on 21 April 1928 for 50 guilders (Inventory book: '441. t. A. Bloemaert studie Christus').
D. Hannema, 'Een beweening van Abraham Bloemaert', Bulletin Museum Boymans, I, 1937, p. 7, pl. VI.
M. Roethlisberger, Abraham Bloemaert and his Sons: Paintings and Prints, Doornspijk, 1993, p. 259, under no. 390.
C. Brown, 'Review: Kabinet van Tekeningen', Burlington Magazine, CXIX, no. 888, March 1977, p. 216.
J. Giltaij, ‘De bewening van Christus’, Bulletin van de Vereniging Rembrandt, XII, no. 2, Summer 2002, pp. 15-6, illustrated.
J. Bolten, Abraham Bloemaert: The Drawings, Amsterdam, 2007, I, p. 76, under no. 170, and no. 901, II, fig. 901.
A.J. Elen, ‘A Gifted and Practical Draughtsman: Creativity and Utility in the Working Process’, in The Bloemaert Effect: Colour and Composition in the Golden Age, exhib. cat., Utrecht, Centraal Museum and Schwerin, Staatliches Museum, 2011, pp. 35-6, fig. 24, and also L.M. Helmus in the same catalogue, p. 114, under no. 34.
Y. Bleyerveld, in Bosch to Bloemaert: Early Netherlandish Drawings in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, exhib. cat., Paris, Fondation Custodia, Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, and Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art, 2014, pp. 286-7, under no. 109.
Y. Bleyerveld, A.J. Elen and J. Niessen, with contributions by P. van der Coelen and A. van Suchtelen, Netherlandish Drawings of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Artists born before 1581, Rotterdam (Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen) 2012. Online catalogue published 01 December 2012. Consulted 30 April 2014.
Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art, Dutch Drawings: Masterpieces of Five Centuries, 1958-59, no. 37 (catalogue by I.Q. van Regteren Altena).
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Paris, Fondation Custodia, and Brussels, Bibliothèque Albert 1er, Le Cabinet d’un Amateur: Dessins flamands et hollandais des XVIe et XVIIe siècles d’une collection privée d’Amsterdam, 1976-77, no. 18, pl. 38 (catalogue by J. Giltaij).
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, exhibition on the occasion of the museum's acquisition of the modello for the painting, 2002 (no catalogue published).

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Lot Essay

Evidently studied from life, this sensitive drawing is a preparatory study for the figure of Christ in Bloemaert’s painting of The Lamentation in the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam (circa 1625; Roethlisberger, op. cit., no. 390; Fig. 2). The composition and Christ's pose may have been originally inspired by Jacob Matham's print of the same subject (1607; New Hollstein, 'Jacob Matham', I, no. 60), and the existence of three different preparatory drawings for Bloemaert's painting allows the compositional development to be traced in some detail. Albert Elen (2011, op. cit.) suggests that Bloemaert began with the very loose preparatory drawing in the Louvre (Bolten, op. cit., no. 170), which established the position of the various figures. This was then submitted to the patron for a first approval, and returned with ideas for amendments, such as moving Saint John the Evangelist to a slightly more prominent position. Once he had confirmed the general composition, Bloemaert then made studies of the various figures from life, of which the present drawing is the only surviving example. Using soft chalks and stumping, he achieved a high level of naturalism that is almost Italianate in mood. Even at this stage Bloemaert was still experimenting: the present drawing shows him exploring two alternative ways of positioning the model's legs, and in fact it was the subsidiary study, with the right leg crossed over the left at the ankle, which was eventually chosen for the painting. The last step in the preparatory process was the squared modello now also in the Boijmans (Paris, 2014, op. cit., no. 109; Fig. 1). In this final composition drawing, and in the painting itself, Bloemaert again introduced slight amendments to the pose studied in the present drawing. In the picture, Christ's head is turned towards the mourners and the lie of his right arm has been adjusted to a more severe, and slightly less naturalistic, straight line.

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