Capriccio of a Bridge with the Arcus Argentariorum by a Mediterranean Harbor

Johannes Abrahamsz Beerstraten Dutch

Not on view

One of several drawings by Beerstraten of real monuments in invented contexts, this sheet features Rome’s Arcus Argentariorum, an ancient arch (probably originally an urban gate) that was, in the seventh century, incorporated into a wall of the church of San Giorgio al Velabro. Here, the structure, overgrown with vines, becomes part of a bridge situated at the point where a river feeds into a harbor.

The extensive and vigorous application of graphite over the black chalk is unusual; until the eighteenth century, graphite was more commonly used for underdrawing, but artists in the seventeenth century did occasionally employ it to reinforce contour lines, such as the outlines of the stones and the carvings on the arch seen here.

Whether Beerstraten’s Mediterranean views are based on his direct exposure to Italy or only on sketches by other artists, namely Johannes Lingelbach, is not known. He is also known for his topographical views of Norway and Switzerland and for views of the local Dutch landscape (see 11.92).

Capriccio of a Bridge with the Arcus Argentariorum by a Mediterranean Harbor, Johannes Abrahamsz Beerstraten (Dutch, Amsterdam 1622–1666 Amsterdam), Black chalk, graphite, brush and gray ink and wash; framing lines in black chalk

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