A Group of Standing Monks and other Figures

Jan Lievens Dutch

Not on view

This outstanding, large sheet by Jan Lievens is one of the rare figure studies by the artist whose drawn oeuvre is composed mostly of landscape and portrait drawings. Lievens, probably best known as Rembrandt’s early studio mate, spent a good deal of his career beyond the city of Amsterdam, in London, Antwerp, The Hague, and Dusseldorf and his peripatetic life is reflected in the diverse sources of inspiration and the demands of varied patronage that can be observed in his work. His varied subjects and styles have led to the artist’s drawings often eluding correct attribution. An 18th-century attribution to Agostino Carracci is inscribed on the mount of this drawing, however, the loose handling of the pen here relates stylistically to drawings by Lievens including a sheet of figures and head studies in the Kunstmuseum Dusseldorf and a sheet with a river god in a private collection.

The nature of the group that Lievens depicted here remains a mystery. It seems to be a gathering of monks with two Franciscans at the front but the tall hat in the right background, out of place among the religious figures, suggests that, instead of showing a contemporary scene, the representation could be a study for a historical subject or even something theatrical, as Rembrandt also rendered in a number of drawings.

A Group of Standing Monks and other Figures, Jan Lievens (Dutch, Leiden 1607–1674 Amsterdam), Pen and brown ink

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