Interest in depicting castles, churches, abbeys and other major buildings, sometimes in ruins, increased in Roghman's time, and these became independent subjects instead of being relegated to background decoration in a landscape, often part of biblical or mythological scenes. Not only Hercules Seghers, Claes Jansz. Visscher and Pieter Saenredam, but also their Flemish counterparts such as David Vinckboons and Roelant Savery (a cousin of Roghman's mother, who was a daughter of Jacques Savery) went into the countryside of Holland to make such views 'naer het leven' in the first decades of the 17th Century. Rembrandt and Jan Lievens soon followed their example, while Aelbert Cuyp, Jan van Goyen and Jacob van Ruisdael (see lot 96 in this sale) among others developed the tradition.
Roelant Roghman's famous series of 245 drawings of castles in Holland and Utrecht is the earliest known such series, and the only one of such high number and importance executed in the 17th Century. The drawings are generally dated 1646-7, though some may have been drawn slightly later. It is not known who commissioned them, nor can the purpose of the series be stated with certainty. Only one contemporary etching is known, by the artist's sister Geertruyd Roghman after the view of the Castle of Zuylen, and no pictures after any of the drawings are recorded. Despite Roghman's youth when drawing the series - he was about twenty when he began it - this group may be regarded as his greatest artistic achievement. He drew some 150 castles, some from different viewpoints, apparently regardless of their age, importance, ownership or condition during several trips in the countryside, all in black chalk, but reworked some with grey wash or even pen and ink later.
Most of the drawings bear inscriptions identifying the view on the verso in at least five different hands, often several together, which range in date from the 17th to the 19th Century; the earliest may be by Roghman, while the later inscriptions cannot be linked to the successive owners with certainty. A number of these drawings still bear the artist's signature, sometimes slightly cut, and often an arrow indicating the north, which have been added by Roghman later.
The group is first recorded in a list by the Rotterdam historian Cornelis van Alkemade in 1708 in the sale of Hildebrand Bentes (1677-1708), who had probably inherited the series from his father, the Amsterdam collector Albert Bentes (1643-1701). The list is now in the Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam (Van der Wyck and Niemeijer, op.cit., pp. 1-5). Several drawings from the series were engraved by Jacobus Schijnvoet (1658?-after 1733) for Rudolf Smids' Schatkamer der Nederlandse Oudheden... (op.cit.), when these were owned by Christiaen van Hoek, who had probably acquired them at Hildebrand Bentes' posthumous sale in 1708. At that time they were also listed by the artist Abraham de Haen, and later they were part of the famous Ploos van Amstel Collection, that was sold in 1800 (see Provenance). Many of the drawings are now in museums, including 45 in the Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam; 58 in Teyler's Museum, Haarlem (including a view of Marquette without the bastion from the same angle seen from close by, Van der Wyck and Niemeijer, op.cit., p. 134, no. 115) and ten each in the Museum Boymans-van Beuningen and the Municipal Archives, Rotterdam. The third known view of Marquette by Roghman is in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (Van der Wyck and Niemeijer, op.cit., p. 135, no. 166). Roghman's view of the Castle of Wijnbergen was sold in these Rooms, 15 November 1993, lot 95.
The drawings are of exceptional importance for the architectural and topographical history of the Netherlands, and the precursors for similar series drawn by 18th Century artists like Abraham de Haen (who presumably copied several Roghman drawings), Abraham Rademaker, Jan de Beyer, Cornelis Pronk and Dirk Verrijk, who met a demand for such drawings that continues to this day. The Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam devoted an exhibition to the artist, and particularly to his series of drawings of castles, in 1990.
The castle of Marquette, also called the 'Huis te Heemskerk', situated north of Haarlem near Beverwijk, was built by Willem II, count of Holland (1234-1256). In the 16th Century it was owned by the counts d'Arenberg. In 1717 the castle was acquired by Joachim Rendorp (1671-1730), whose descendant Paulina Johanna Rendorp van Marquette (1829-1913) was married to Jan Hugo Gevers (1829-1891). The castle remained in the family of their descendants until just before 1980, when it became a hotel and conference center. Marquette is situated not far from the ruins of Egmond castle (see lot 96 in this sale), which Roghman also drew (Van der Wyck and Niemeijer, op.cit., pp. 65-8, nos. 45-8).