Peasants Loading Hay

Follower of Hendrick Avercamp 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 overtly summer scene is somewhat uncharacteristic for the artist. Industrious peasants are collecting hay on a wide, outstretched meadow. Two men are loading their wagon while their horse diligently awaits further action. To the right two women are approaching, possibly bringing provisions.

Both for its subject matter as well as its style, this sheet is rather atypical for Avercamp, and therefore raises questions as to its authenticity. The corpus of drawings assigned to the artist contains several loosely drawn sketches, executed in pen and brown ink over traces of graphite, and sparingly colored in noticeably 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). In the background especially this sheet shows rapid, vigorous pen work, accentuated with predominantly brown and blue diluted watercolors. There is a strong sense of movement in this lively icescape. In comparison, the Museum’s Peasants Loading Hay shows more restrained lines that are mainly used to indicate contours. Its unmodulated red, blue 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 figures.

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.

Peasants Loading Hay, Follower of Hendrick Avercamp (Dutch, Amsterdam 1585–1634 Kampen), Pen and brown and black ink, with watercolor, over black chalk; framing line in pen and brown ink

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