Oud Holland

Review of: ‘Schaulust: Niederländische Zeichenkunst des 18. Jahrhunderts’ (2020)

March 2023


Review of: Annett Sandfort, Schaulust: Niederländische Zeichenkunst des 18. Jahrhunderts, Dresden [Sandstein Verlag] 2020 | 1 October 2020-24 May 2021, Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main 

Over the past 25 years, more attention has rightly been paid to eighteenth-century Dutch drawings than in the decades prior.1 No longer are they dismissed as minor, in comparison to seventeenth-century paintings and drawings, but rather as worthy of research and display, in their own right. The exhibition Schaulust: Niederländische Zeichenkunst des 18. Jahrhunderts, held at the Städel Museum in Frankfurt am Main, together with the accompanying exhibition catalogue by Annett Sandfort, is in line with this current trend toward eighteenth-century Dutch drawings, and puts a previously, relatively unknown (sub)collection of the museum, firmly on the map.2 Many of the works in the catalogue have never before been published. 

With almost 600 sheets, the Städel Museum has the most extensive collection of eighteenth-century Dutch drawings outside the Netherlands and Belgium. They were largely assembled contemporaneous to their creation, by the museum’s founder, Johann Friedrich Städel (1728-1816), and his friend and the museum’s first Head of Administration, Johann Georg Grambs (1756-1817). The collection also reflects the late eighteenth-century taste for meticulously detailed, preferably coloured, drawings. Landscapes and topographical views were the most favoured topics, followed by depictions of flowers and animals, genre scenes and natekeningen– or, drawn copies after Old Masters. Religious and historical subjects, portraits, academy studies and sketches in general, are less well represented.

This part of the Städel’s collection is comparable to that of the eighteenth-century Dutch drawings in Teylers Museum, Haarlem. That collection was largely assembled in the same period as the one in Frankfurt. The driving force behind the acquisition policy in the early years of Teylers Museum was the artist Wybrand Hendriks (1744-1831), one of the first curators of the art collection and caretaker (‘kastelein’) of Pieter Teylers Huis. He was an active buyer at auctions and, thanks to his extensive network of artists in Amsterdam and Haarlem, regularly acquired drawings by living artists or their descendants.3

Cover of: Schaulust: Niederländische Zeichenkunst des 18. Jahrhunderts

Middle left: fig. 1 Jan van Huysum, A crab, watercolour, graphite and brush with yellow and brown gum on paper, 183 x 294 mm., Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, inv. no. 824

Middle right: fig. 2 Jacob de Wit, Ceiling design: Flora and Zephyr, c. 1725, pen and grey ink, watercolour, 230 x 350 mm., Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, inv. no. 2048 

Right: fig. 3 Aert Schouman, Long-tailed paradise Whydah (Vidua paradisaea) and a Red-cowled Cardinal (Paroaris dominicana), pen and black ink, watercolour on paper, 370 x 253 mm., Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, inv. no. 3002

In the exhibition catalogue discussed here, he is represented with two beautiful sheets (cat. Nos. 41-42). In addition, the Städel Museum owns two other drawings by him and a painted flower still life from 1776.4 Recently, a drawing after a painting by Philips Wouwerman (1619-1668), which until recently had been described as an anonymous work, has also been attributed to Hendriks.5

According to the provenance data mentioned in the catalogue, a number of sheets were offered at the same auctions where Hendriks made his purchases for Teylers Museum, such as those of Cornelis Ploos van Amstel (1800), Jan Jansz Gildemeester (1800) and Willem Philip Kops (1808).6 At these occasions, Hendriks was probably not a direct opponent of Städel and Grambs for it is more likely that they bought their drawings from art dealers in Frankfurt, who had acquired their goods in the Netherlands or via Dutch art dealers.7

The 81 works discussed in the catalogue, are a representative reflection of the Städel’s collection of eighteenth-century Dutch drawings.8 Highlights are the meticulously drawn crab by Jan van Huysum (1682-1749) (cat. no. 40; fig. 1), a design for a ceiling piece with Flora and Zephyr by Jacob de Wit (1695-1754) (cat. no. 17; fig. 2) and the group of coloured animal drawings by Aert Schouman (1710-1792) (cat. nos. 45-47; fig. 3). Also of very high quality is the monumental drawing Suijpesteijn from 1742 by Cornelis Troost (1696-1750) (cat. no. 52; fig. 4). Such depictions of men partying, drinking and urinating in public – are a rarity in his oeuvre and a feast for the eyes.

In addition, there are a number of surprises in the form of drawings by relatively unknown artists, such as Hendrik Schepper (1741-1794), Jacobus Johannes Lauwers (1753-1800), Jan Frederik Schierecke (1752-1801), Jabes Heenck (1752-1782) and Arnout Rentinck (1712-1774) (cat. no. 23; fig. 5). Drawings by the latter are very rare. To date, only two other sheets are known: Playing putti in a landscape, dated 1774 (Rijksmuseum) and Bust of a woman with a straw hat (Albertina).9 The Amsterdam artist, who emigrated to Berlin in 1757, is best known for his mezzotints. It is possible that a number of his drawings remain hidden under the name of his teacher Nicolaas Verkolje (1673-1746), an important eighteenth-century artist of whom the Städel Museum – remarkably – does not own any works.10 

Although the richly illustrated book is a pleasure to browse through, highlighting only the artistics of the collection also has a disadvantage for it tends to present a rather one-sided image of the practice of Dutch drawing in this time. As usual, most attention goes out to the leading artists of the time such as Cornelis Pronk (1691-1759), Aert Schouman, Cornelis Troost, Jan van Huysum, Jacob Cats (1577-1660), Bernard Picart (1673-1733) and Jacob de Wit. They are represented with three, four or sometimes six drawings (in the case of De Wit).

The practise of drawing in the Netherlands in the eighteenth century, however, is characterised by the diversity of draughters from professional artists (male or female) to amateurs and everything in between. This diversity appears less evident from the selected works in the catalogue. For example, with only one drawing by Maria La Fargue (cat. no. 61), female artists are significantly under-represented. Although there are proportionally less female than male artists, recent publications have shown that their role should not be underestimated.11 The task of studying eighteenth-century female artists and their drawings, still awaits. A number of women are known to have practised the arts professionally, such as Sara Troost (1732-1803), daughter of Cornelis Troost, Christina Chalon (1749-1808) and Aletta de Freij (1768-1808). Of the latter, the Städel Museum owns three natekeningen after Old Masters.12 It is a missed opportunity not to discuss her work in the context of this exhibition catalogue.

Left: fig. 4 Cornelis Troost, Suijpesteijn, 1742, gouache on paper, 411 x 620 mm., Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, inv. no. 2822

Middle left: fig. 5 Arnout Rentinck, Alpheios pursues Arethusa, who is saved by Diana, 1742, pen and black ink, watercolour and gouache on paper, 263 x 236 mm., Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, inv. no. 3849

Middle right: fig. 6 Jan Punt, Allegory of the wedding of Roeloff Woudman and Anna Catharina Heggers, 1745, pen and grey ink, grey wash, graphite, opaque white, red chalk on paper, 233 x 175 mm., Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, inv. no. 3109

Right: fig. 7 Aert Schouman, after Jan van der Heyden en Adriaen van de Velde, Garden with the dome of Huis ten Bosch in the distance, 1773, pen and black ink, watercolour on paper, 272 x 333 mm., Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, inv. no. 4494

Drawings by classicist draughters of the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth centuries, who mainly produced frontispieces and book illustrations, are also underrepresented. Thanks to the liberal political climate and the lack of censorship, book production was flourishing in the Netherlands at this time. Many artists, as Jan Goeree (1670-1731), Jan Wandelaar (1692-1759), Louis Fabritius Dubourg (1693-1775) and Jan Punt (1711-1779), and his pupil, the celebrated and prolific Reinier Vinkeles (1741-1816) made their living in this field. Of Jan Punt, himself a pupil of Jacob de Wit few drawings are known. A large part of his books, prints and drawings were lost in the fire in the theatre of Amsterdam, on 7 May 1772.13 Punt is best known today for his allegorical representations on the occasion of weddings, which he produced in the late-1730s and 1740s.

The Städel Museum has a fine example of this quintessentially Dutch phenomenon by Punt from 1745 which, unfortunately, is not included in the exhibition catalogue (fig. 6).14 It shows a couple at an altar with two burning hearts. On the ridge of the arbour, decorated with garlands of flowers and vines, the couple’s coats of arms are attached. In fact, the drawing was used as the design for the title page accompanying the bundle of poems which was published on the occasion of the wedding of Roeloff Woudman (1719-1798) and Anna Catharina Heggers (1720-1765).15 The couple made notice of their wedding in Amsterdam on 11 June 1745.16

As is often the case with drawings by Punt, the sheet in the Städel Museum has been ‘improved’ by Jacob de Wit.17 His corrections, made with brush and opaque white and some greyish brown ink, are clearly visible. In the drawing, De Wit was particularly concerned to emphasise the contrast between dark and light, by covering superfluous details, such as the garland of flowers to the left of the vase, with a thick layer of opaque white. Punt then obediently adopted these corrections in the print.

The classically structured book consists of an introduction and a catalogue section, in which all the exhibited works are described and illustrated in colour. This section is divided into themes, such as ‘Classicism and Baroque’, ‘Topographies’ and ‘Flowers, Fruits and Animals’. The themes are each briefly explained, providing the reader with a clear idea of the various subjects and types of drawings that were popular in the eighteenth century.18 Moreover, the author was able to include general background information about the drawings to avoid top heavy catalogue entries.

By holding on to this classification, however, unavoidably choices have been made that are somewhat forced. The drawing of a gunpowder explosion on the battlefield by the Rotterdam artist Dirk Langedijk (1758-1705) (cat. no. 81), for example, is a bit of an anomaly in the landscape-section. At the same time, the sheet, which is included as the last catalogue number, forms a fitting end to the exhibition; it ends with a bang. In the book, this is emphasised by a spectacular detail of the drawing, on one of the last pages, in which debris and fallen soldiers are clearly flying around.

Left: fig. 8 Jacob de Wit, Fall of the rebel angels (?), c. 1732, pen and brown ink, brown and grey wash, opaque white on paper, 157 x 199 mm., Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, inv. no. 2005

Middle: fig. 9 Franciscus Andreas Milatz, View of Huis Heemstede, 1801, pen and grey ink, watercolour on velum, 297 x 405 mm., Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, inv. no. 3238  

Right: Egbert van Drielst, Landscape with pack mules near Hilversum, c. 1779, watercolour, gouache on paper, 275 x 414 mm., Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, inv. no. 3698

Along the same line, it is somewhat unfortunate that the theme ‘Genre, Theatre and Art of the Golden Age’ also includes drawn copies after Old Masters. It would have been more appropriate to deal with this group of high-quality drawings in a separate theme, for in the eighteenth century and for a large part of the nineteenth century, this type of drawing was highly valued.19 Artists, such as Aert Schouman and Wybrand Hendriks, were praised for their ability to translate representations of Old Masters as accurately as possible into a watercolour drawing.

As originality was considered more important in a work of art; the popularity of this type of drawing diminished considerably throughout the course of the nineteenth century. Exemplary for this period, is therefore, the classification of the natekeningen in Frankfurt as reproduction prints, rather than original drawings.20 It is therefore with good reason that a number of natekeningen have been included as highlights in the exhibition. Not only are they of excellent quality, but because of their inscriptions, they also have a documentary value, when the original is unknown or has been lost. The Städel Museum, for example, has a copy by Aert Schouman of the painting Garden with the dome of Huis ten Bosch in the distance by Jan van der Heyden (1637-1712) and Adriaen van de Velde (1636-1672), which was stolen from the collection of Baroness Alexandrine de Rothschild during the World War II (cat. no. 57; fig. 7).

In the well written catalogue texts, Sandfort gives a detailed description of drawings. Surprising comparisons are made; for example, in the catalogue text about the drawing by Barend Hendrik Thier (cat. no. 73). Here the author points to unexpected similarities in details in the drawings (the bull’s head and the tree) and unpublished studies in their sketchbooks in Berlin.21 The footnotes are also well worth reading, in which sometimes new attributions are hidden about other works in the collection, testifying to the examination of the entire collection of eighteenth-century Dutch drawings.22

Finally, I have some additions and suggestions to individual entries. The drawn portrait of Jacob van Hoorn and his wife Jacoba van Selstede by Jacob Folkema (1692-1767) (cat. no. 19) most likely was not made as a gift, as the author suggests, but as an independent work of art intended for sale. Portraits of the 96-year-old Van Hoorn and his fourth wife were extremely popular, as is evident from the 1989 publication by Sliggers and Van der Steur (not mentioned in the catalogue entry).23 They belong to the phenomenon of portraits of centenarians that was passionately collected in the Netherlands in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

One of the few sketches in the exhibition catalogue is The fall of the rebel angels (?) by Jacob de Wit (cat. no. 14; fig. 8). Sandfort compares the drawing with Rubens's paintings of the Last Judgement that he made around 1621/22.24 De Wit, who lived in Antwerp from 1711 to 1714, was a great admirer of the Flemish artist. It is highly unlikely, however, that he saw Rubens’ paintings in real life. During his stay in Antwerp, the works were in the private collection of Elector Johann Wilhelm von der Pfalz in Düsseldorf. De Wit probably knew the paintings through prints. It is also possible that he based the Frankfurt drawing on the four sheets by Rubens, representing The fall of the rebel angels, which he owned himself.25

A second version exists of the 1801 (fig. 9) view of Huis Heemstede by the Haarlem artist Franciscus Andreas Milatz (1764-1808) (cat. no. 37).26 This drawing, which is preserved in the collection of the Rijksdienst voor het Culturele Erfgoed, remains unmentioned in the catalogue. Milatz often produced multiple versions or repetitions of the same scene, using a sketch made on the spot as a model.27 This enabled him to meet the ever-growing demand from collectors of drawings for topographical scenes. There is also a third drawing by Milatz of Huis Heemstede, seen from the south-west.28

Together with the online database of the museum, the exhibition catalogue is a long-awaited reference work of the eighteenth-century Dutch drawings in the Städel Museum. It puts forward an important collection of drawings, which, until recently, was rather unknown.29

Marleen Ram
Curator of Art Collections
Teylers Museum, Haarlem


1 In her introduction, Standfort gives an account of the status quo in the field of Dutch drawings of the eighteenth century; A. Standfort, SchaulustNiederländische Zeichenkunst des 18. Jahrhunderts, exh. cat. Frankfurt 2020, p. 11. Also worth mentioning in this context is C. Scheffer (ed.), Achttiende-eeuwse kunst in de Nederlanden (Leids kunsthistorisch jaarboek, vol. 4), Delft 1987; and I. Oud and L. Oosterzee, Nederlandse tekenaars geboren tussen 1660 en 1745 (Oude tekeningen in het bezit van de Gemeentemusea van Amsterdam, waaronder de collectie Fodor, vol. 5), Amsterdam/Zwolle 1999.

2 That the collection of Dutch drawings of the eighteenth century in the Städel Museum has remained fairly unknown among art historians is evident from the introduction in: L. Schwartz, Dutch drawings in Teylers Museum: Artists born between 1740 and 1800, Haarlem 2004, p. 9: ‘Unlike any other surviving collection of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Dutch art, that of the Teyler Museum was formed largely through the acquisition of contemporary works’. Schwartz, however, forgot to mention the collection of drawings in Frankfurt, which was formed in a similar way. 

3 Schwartz 2004 (note 2), p. 19; T. van Druten, Beheren, verzamelen en restaureren. Wybrand Hendriks als kastelein van Pieter Teylers Huis en directeur der kunstverzamelingen, in: M. Krom, T. van Druten and M. Ram (eds.), Wybrand Hendriks (1744-1831). Kunstenaar, kastelein en conservator van Teylers Museum, Haarlem 2023, pp. 96-99 (forthcoming).

4 Städel Museum, Frankfurt, inv. nos. 953 (graphite, watercolour on paper; 190 x 175 mm.), 4498 (graphite, watercolour; 323 x 271 mm.) and 1142 (oil on panel; 60 x 51 cm.).

5 Städel Museum, Frankfurt, inv. no. 24916 (graphite, gouache on vellum; 342 x 363 mm.); M. Plomp, ‘Wybrand Hendriks and Willem Philip Kops: A Fruitful Friendship’, Master drawings 60 (2022), no. 1, pp. 113-116. Haarlem 2023 (note 3), no. 85.

6 Hendriks bought several drawings at the Ploos van Amstel auction, including a group of drawings by Aert Schouman (Teylers Museum, Haarlem, inv. nos. U 017, U 018, U 019, U 021, U 024, U 025 and U 025a); at the Gildemeester auction, including a group of drawings by Jan van Huysum (Teylers Museum, Haarlem, inv. nos. T 005, T 011, T 012 and T 013); at the Kops auction, including Kops’s Panpoëticon and several sheets by Cornelis Troost (Teylers Museum, Haarlem, inv. no. T 028), Reinier Vinkeles (Teylers Museum, Haarlem, inv. nos. V 068 and V 069) and Jean Grandjean (Teylers Museum, Haarlem, inv. no. U 073). 

7 For more information on Städel’s acquisition of drawings, see: J. Jacoby, ‘Zauberschlag der Schöpferischen Phantasie. Zur Zeichnungssammlung von Johann Friedrich Städel’, in: J. Jacoby et al., Städels ErbeMeisterzeichnungen aus der Sammlung des Stifters, Frankfurt 2020, pp. 20-24. 

8 The entire collection of eighteenth-century Dutch drawings is fully digital accessible via the museum’s website: https://sammlung.staedelmuseum.de/en

9 Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, inv. no. RP-T-1890-A-2254 (watercolour on paper; 229 x 308 mm.); Albertina, Wenen, inv. no. 10969 (pen and grey ink, with gray wash on paper; 109 x 97 mm).

10 For example, see the drawn portrait of Nicolaas Verkolje in the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, inv. no. KdZ 14178, graphite, watercolour on paper; 215x18 mm.). As suggested by J.W. Niemeijer, this drawing was not made by Verkolje himself but perhaps by Rentinck; P. Knolle and E. Korthals Altes (eds.), Nicolaas Verkolje (1673-1746): De fluwelen hand, Enschede 2011, p. 179, note 1.

11 Digitaal vrouwenlexicon van Nederlandhttp://resources.huygens.knaw.nl/vrouwenlexicon

12 Städel Museum, Frankfurt, inv. nos. 4478, 4488 and 4489. Voor een biografische schets van De Frey, zie: M. Huiskamp, ‘FREY, Anna Alida de’, in: Digitaal Vrouwenlexicon van Nederlandhttp://resources.huygens.knaw.nl/vrouwenlexicon/lemmata/data/Frey [consulted on 28 February 2022].

13 S. Stijl, Het leven van Jan Punt (Levensbeschryving van eenige voornaame meest Nederlandsche mannen en vrouwen, vol. 9), Amsterdam/Harlingen 1781, p. 77. 

14 Städel Museum, Frankfurt, inv. no. 3109.

15 A copy can be found in the library of the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.

16 Stadsarchief Amsterdam, acc. no. 5001, inv. no. 588, p. 334.

17 On the corrections by De Wit in drawings by Jan Punt, see: J. Shoaf Turner, ‘On being edited. The Rijksmuseum’s drawings for Arnold Hoogvliet’s Abraham de Aartsvader by Jan Punt, corrected by Jacob de Wit’, in: E. Buijsen et al. (eds.), Kunst op papier in de achttiende eeuw. Liber Amicorum aangeboden aan Charles Dumas ter gelegenheid van zijn 65ste verjaardag, Zoetermeer 2014, pp. 230-239.

18 For a comparable structure of the exhibition catalogue on the basis of themes, see: R.C. Tervaert et al. (eds.), Mooi oud. Drie eeuwen tekeningen uit de Kröller-Müllercollectie, exh. cat. Otterlo (Kröller-Müller Museum) 2021-2022.

19 On this subject, see: J. Aono, ‘Kunstenaars op de veiling: tussen zakelijkheid en bewondering’, in: F. Grijzenhout (ed.), Kunst, kennis & kapitaal: oude meesters op de Hollandse veilingmarkt, 1670-1820, Zutphen 2022, pp. 237-262; C. Dumas, ‘Enkele opmerkingen over achttiende-eeuwse “vertaaltekeningen”, met een uitstapje naar Jan Matthias Cok’, Delineavit et Sculpsit 48 (2021), pp. 10-90; R.E. Jellema, Herhaling of vertaling? Natekeningen uit de achttiende en negentiende eeuw, exh. cat. Haarlem (Teylers Museum) 1987. 

20 Frankfurt 2020 (note 1), p. 14. 

21 These sketchbook pages: R.-J. te Rijdt and J.W. Niemeijer, ‘Barend Hendrik Thier (1743-1811), een kunstenaarsleven tussen natuurobservatie en ateliertraditie. Deel 1: Elf schetsboeken toegevoegd aan zijn oeuvre’, Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 49 (2001), pp. 178-205.

22 For example, see: Frankfurt 2020 (note 1), p. 40, note 5. The author here rightly attributes a drawing (Städel Museum, Frankfurt, inv. no. 5710, watercolour on paper; 196 x 267 mm.) that was previously attributed to Jan van Huysum to Michiel van Huysum (1703-1777). Very similar, for example, is a drawing by the latter from 1744 in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, inv. no. RP-T-2015-14 (graphite, watercolour on paper; 320x460 mm.).

23 B. C. Sliggers & A.G. van der Steur, Portretten van Nederlandse ‘honderdjarigen’, Haarlem 1998-1990, pp. 153-161. 

24 Munich, Alte Pinakothek, inv. nos. 320 (oil on panel; 286 x 244 cm.) and 611 (oil on panel; 183 x 120 cm.); Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, vol. 7 (1984), pp. 213-218, nos. 51-52.

25 These drawings are mentioned in the catalogue of De Wit’s estate auction; sale Jacob de Wit, Amsterdam (H. de Leth), 10 March 1755, Kunstboek D, nos. 2-5 (Eenige Beelden, uit den Val der Engelen, met coleuren getekend, door Denzelven [P.P. Rubens]’).

26 Wybrand Hendriks also made a drawing of the exact same view, adding different staffage in the foreground; Noord-Hollands Archief, Haarlem, inv. no. NL-HlmNHA_1100_KNA006003159 (pen and brown ink, watercolour, black chalk on paper; 250 x 390 mm.); Haarlem 2023 (note 3), no. 30.

27 On this subject, see: A. Beerenhout, ‘Herhalingen in het getekende oeuvre van F.A. Milatz’, Delineavit et sculpsit 16 (1996), pp. 43-50.

28 Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, Amersfoort, inv. no. TH-190 (pen and grey ink, watercolour on paper; 279 x 459 mm.).

29 Author’s note: I wish to thank Robert-Jan te Rijdt, retired curator of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century drawings in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, for his comments on an earlier draft of this review.


Marleen Ram, 'Review of: Schaulust: Niederländische Zeichenkunst des 18. Jahrhunderts’, Oud Holland Reviews, March 2023.