The Ferryboat

Follower of Hendrick Avercamp Dutch
Previously attributed to Adriaen van der Cabel Dutch

Not on view

Hendrick Avercamp, one of the most beloved painters of the Dutch Golden Age, is renowned for his iconic winter landscapes. This scene of a ferry crossing a river, however, is set in a noticeably warmer season and is therefore somewhat atypical within the artist’s oeuvre. There are more uncharacteristic features to this little sketch that may lead one to question its authenticity.

The corpus of drawings, assigned to Avercamp, contains several loosely drawn sketches, executed in pen and brown ink, often over traces of graphite, that are sparingly colored in stikingly transparent and monochrome hues of watercolor. An illustrative example is held in the Royal Collection at Winsor, A Scene on the Ice Outside a Town (RCIN 906472). Especially in the background scene, this sheet shows rapid, vigorous pen lines, accentuated with predominantly brown and blue diluted watercolors. There is a strong sense of movement in this lively icescape. In comparison, the Museum’s Ferry Crossing a River, shows more restrained and economically applied lines that are mainly used to indicate contours. The unmodulated bright red and green watercolor stand in contrast to the somewhat more subtle tonality of the above named sheet.

A second drawing, also in the Royal Collection, shows similarity to the Museum’s landscape for its comparable emphasis on contour (A Fishing-Smack Frozen in the Ice, RCIN 906512). Compared to our drawing, however, this sheets shows greater accuracy and more convincing realism in the rendering of both the figures and the boat.

Considering the uncharacteristic subject matter and the notable stylistic differences with Avercamp’s securely attributed sheets, this drawing is likely to have been made by one of the artist’s contemporary followers. Already in his own time the artist enjoyed great popularity, and it is therefore not surprising that his work was avidly copied and imitated.

The Ferryboat, Follower of Hendrick Avercamp (Dutch, Amsterdam 1585–1634 Kampen), Pen and brown ink, with watercolor, over graphite; framing line in pen and brown ink

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