Title: Studies for female saint and male head (recto) and Arm, leg, and hand studies (verso)
Double-sided drawing: red chalk with some heightening in white (recto);
red chalk with heightening in white, and some black ink (verso)
Dimensions: window mat: 16.7 × 24.4 cm (6 9/16 × 9 5/8 in.)
Sheet: 17.1 × 25.4 cm (6 3/4 × 10 in.)
Frame: 40 × 47.3 cm (15 3/4 × 18 5/8 in.)
Gift of Helen-Mae and Seymour R. Askin, Jr., Class of 1947, in honor of Frank Robinson
This beautiful double-sided drawing attests to Bloemaert’s skill as both draftsman and teacher. The downturned gaze and prayerful gesture of the female saint on the recto suggest the Virgin Mary, while the verso offers a more varied grouping of studies, primarily from a female model. Overall, the work demonstrates Bloemaert’s practice of keeping such sheets for future compositions and for his students’ use.
In the Johnson Museum’s recently acquired Bloemaert painting Without Bacchus and Ceres, Venus Freezes, ca. 1591 (2018.035), the poses of Cupid’s and Ceres’s left arms in the painting correspond to the arm holding the cup and the forearm and hand below it in the drawing. Given the painting’s kinship to Bloemaert’s mannerist style of the early 1590s, a similar date for the drawing might therefore be advanced. But this connection also shows that even the effete and languid gestures dictated by contemporary style were still grounded in figure study.
The Johnson’s collection also includes a deluxe 1740 edition of Bloemaert’s drawing book. Along with the distribution of Bloemaert’s drawings throughout Europe, the book ensured that later artists, like François Boucher, adopted and modified his designs. ("FIGURE/STUDY: Drawings from the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art," text by Andrew C. Weislogel and presented at Carlton Hobbs, LLC January 25-February 2, 2019)
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.