Man Protected by the Shield of Faith

Artist: Maarten van Heemskerck (Netherlandish, Heemskerck 1498–1574 Haarlem)

Date: 1559

Medium: Pen and brown ink, over traces of black chalk; indented for transfer. Framing line in pen and brown ink

Dimensions: 14-5/16 x 10-3/16 in. (36.4 x 25.9 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Purchase, Charles and Jessie Price and Guy Wildenstein Gifts, Fletcher Fund, and Gift of Dr. Mortimer D. Sackler, Theresa Sackler and Family, 2000

Accession Number: 2000.150


Maarten van Heemskerck arrived in Rome in the early summer of 1532. He stayed about four or five years in Italy, primarily concentrating on drawing ruins, classical sculpture, landscapes, and city views. He also studied the works of contemporary Italian artists, especially Michelangelo and Giulio Romano. The present allegorical drawing was created after the artist's return to the Netherlands. It depicts Satan sitting on a rug decorated with the Seven Vices, and hurling burning arrows from atop a globe at a praying man. The personification of faith, a woman holding a cross and a Bible, protects the man by holding a shield above his head. Delicate hatching in pen and brown ink reveals the muscular forms of the figures of the devil and the praying man. The interest in their anatomy demonstrates the influence of Michelangelo and classical sculpture on Heemskerck's work. Like many of the artist's drawings, a print was made after this work. These prints were extremely important in the dissemination throughout Northern Europe of the Mannerist style Heemskerck had acquired in Italy.