Visscher had a short career as a draughtsman: he is generally thought to have started drawing only by 1651, and he did so until his early death at the age of probably 30. In this period he was very active, making some 200 prints and many drawings, most of which are portraits. He did a number of drawings of children similar to the present lot, some signed and dated. A less finished drawing of the head of a boy, which gives an interesting insight into Visscher's drawing techniques and procedures, is in the Historisch Museum, Amsterdam, Broos/Schapelhouman, op. cit., no. 164. As in the present drawing, the Amsterdam sheet shows a delicate shading and refined details such as the boy's eyelashes and shading on his nose and mouth. Typical for Visscher is the soft hatching in different directions on the cheek. His technique is thought to have been influenced by Anthony van Dyck. Further studies of children are in the Historisches Museum and the Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam (Broos/Schapelhouman, op. cit, no. 166 and p. 211, note 1, illustrated), and in the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, E. Bock and J. Rosenberg, Staatliche Museen Berlin, Die Niederlndischen Meister, Berlin, 1930, I, p. 308, II, plate 212.
A copy of the present lot by Jan Hulswit (1766-1822), possibly done at the time of the Ploos van Amstel sale, is in the Frits Lugt Collection, Fontation Custodia, Institut Nerlandais, Paris (photo at the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Informatie, The Hague).
We are grateful to Dr. Hans-Ulrich Beck for this information regarding the provenance of this drawing. Cornelis Ploos van Amstel's collection included a number of other drawings by Visscher.