Maerten van Heemskerck (Heemskerk 1498-1574 Haarlem)
Maerten van Heemskerck (Heemskerk 1498-1574 Haarlem)

Studies of Roman sculpture: A fragment of a sarcophagus, an antique vase and a torso of Artemis (recto); A fantastical mountainous landscape with ruins (verso)

Maerten van Heemskerck (Heemskerk 1498-1574 Haarlem)
Studies of Roman sculpture: A fragment of a sarcophagus, an antique vase and a torso of Artemis (recto); A fantastical mountainous landscape with ruins (verso)
inscribed 'M' (on the plaque of the sarcophagus) and with number '1' (recto); red chalk numbering '17 H(?)' (verso)
pen and brown ink
8 x 10 1/8 in. (20.5 x 25.8 cm.)
with Nicolaas Beets (1878-1963), Amsterdam; from whom acquired by I.Q. van Regteren Altena either in June or on 31 July 1925 (Inventory book: '117. t. Heemskerck studieblad' or '119. t. Heemskerck studieblad').
C. Hülsen, 'Unbekannte Römische Zeichnungen von Maerten van Heemskerck', Mededeelingen van het Nederlandsch Historisch Instituut te Rome, VII, 1927, pp. 94-6, pls. 5-6.
J. Bruyn, 'Enige werken van Jan van Scorel uit zijn Haarlemse tijd (1527-1529)', Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum, II, 1954, p. 54, note 4.
Amsterdam, Koninklijk Oudheidkundig Genootschap, Rome, 1940 (no catalogue published).
Utrecht, Centraal Museum, Jan van Scorel, 1955, no. 100, pl. 128 (catalogue by G.J. Hoogewerff).
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. 73, pls. 6 and 8 (catalogue by J. Giltaij).
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, Kunst voor de beeldenstorm: Noordnederlandse kunst 1525-1580, 1986, no. 103 (catalogue by J.P. Filedt Kok et al.).
Amsterdam, Amsterdam Museum, In de ban van Italië: Tekeningen uit een Amsterdamse verzameling, 1995, no. 1 (catalogue by I. Oud, M. Jonker and M. Schapelhouman).
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Maarten van Heemskerck, het oude Rome herleeft, 2012 (not included in catalogue).

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Lot Essay

Born into a farming family in a small village near Haarlem, Maerten van Heemskerck showed talent as an artist from a early age and, after much struggle, finally persuaded his father to let him study painting. He began his training in Delft and afterwards moved to Haarlem, where he joined the workshop of the Italianate painter Jan van Scorel (1495-1562). Heemskerck himself set off for Italy in 1532 and spent four years studying the landscapes and classical antiquities of Rome. Van Mander noted approvingly that he neither 'frittered away his time nor wasted it drinking and carousing with the Netherlanders, but instead made drawings… of a great many things'. Heemskerck had a particular fondness for fragments: rather than studying works which had been reconstructed after their rediscovery, he gravitated towards sculptures and buildings which emphasised the tragic ruin of the ancient world. Most of his studies of the ruins, sculptures and more recent buildings in Rome are in the albums known as the Roman Sketchbooks in the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin. His diligence and assimilation of Italianate style also brought him praise from the native Italians whom he encountered during his stay. Vasari spoke approvingly of Heemskerck's battle scenes, and the young Northerner was also invited to work on a prestigious project decorating a triumphal arch at the Porta San Sebastiano in Rome in 1536, in honour of a visit of the Emperor Charles V. His collaborators on this commission included Battista Franco (circa 1510-1561) and Francesco Salviati (1510-1563).

The present sheet is a characteristic example of Heemskerck's Italian studies. On the recto are several studies after various fragments of antique sculpture. The torso, with its fluttering draperies, belongs to a sculptural type showing Artemis at the hunt, now best known through the Diana of Versailles, which was presented to King Henri II of France by Pope Paul IV and is now in the Louvre. The same type also survives in the Diana Cacciatrice in the Musei Capotilini in Rome, although the arms and head have been restored in a different manner from those of the Diana in the Louvre. Both sculptures ultimately derive from a lost Hellenistic original said to have been by Leochares. The fragment of sarcophagus is very close, although not exactly identical, to the funerary urn of the freedman Tiberius Claudius Chryseros and his family, which has the same satyr-mask and eagle motifs. On the verso, by contrast, Heemskerck has sketched a mountainous Italianate landscape, in which rocky crags provide the setting for a fanciful ruin similar to the Colosseum. The mountains are strikingly close to those which appear in the background of the Saint Mary Magdalene painted in circa 1528 by Jan van Scorel (1495-1562), a work which Heemskerck must have known well from his studies with the master (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam). Adapting Heemskerck's studies of ancient architecture to a more fantastical setting, it may well have been a preliminary study or first idea for one of his own paintings. Its juxtaposition of classical architecture and untamed nature is certainly very similar to the landscape in the Panorama with the Abduction of Helen amidst the Wonders of the Ancient World (circa 1535; Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; R. Grosshans, Maerten van Heemskerck: die Gema¨lde, Berlin, 1980, no. 19).

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