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Study of a Tree

Artist:
Roelandt Savery (Flemish, Kortrijk 1576–1639 Utrecht)
Date:
ca. 1606–7
Medium:
Gray watercolor wash, a red chalk wash, charcoal dipped in oil, and graphite on off-white laid paper
Dimensions:
12-1/16 x 15-1/2 in. (30.6 x 39.4 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
Purchase, Anonymous Gift, in memory of Frits Markus; Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1999
Accession Number:
1999.223
Not on view
Both dead and alive, a mighty, uprooted tree trunk, together with a tangle of stumps, roots, and branches, is the sole subject of this drawing. Savery, like several other Netherlandish artists around 1600, was fascinated by such highly charged animations of natural forms.
Savery might have encountered this tree during his extended journey to the Swiss and Tyrolean Alps, from 1606 to 1608, on which he fulfilled the order of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II (r. 1576–1612) "to search for rare wonders of nature." This sheet corresponds with the chalk-and-wash studies from that trip; it unites a naturalist's attentive eye with the restless energy of late Mannerist art. Savery developed his initial graphite sketch with breathtaking assurance, alternating layers of colored washes with charcoal, which he dipped in oil and applied in strokes both hatched and crosshatched, narrow and broad, dark and light.
Signature: At lower left, signed "R Savery f" in pen and brown ink

Inscription: Verso: at lower left, inscribed "Roeland Lucas 1526-39" in graphite; at lower center, inscribed "30:39" in graphite

Marking: Watermark at center-right. Verso: at upper center, a collector's mark (?)
Private Collection, The Netherlands; Lodewijk Arnold Houthakker (Dutch, 1926–2008); Vendor: Katrin Bellinger Kunsthandel, Munich
Carmen C. Bambach, Colta Ives, Nadine Orenstein, Michiel C. Plomp, Perrin Stein "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1999-2000." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 58, no. 20, Fall 2000, entry written by Michiel C. Plomp, p. 31, ill.

Marijn Schapelhouman, Frits Scholten "Acquisitions: Eleven Drawings and a Statue, a Selection from the Van Regteren Altena Donation." in the Rijksmuseum Bulletin. vol. 57, Amsterdam, 2009, p. 102, under cat. 8.



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