Hendrick Avercamp (Dutch, Amsterdam 1585–1634 Kampen) br>
Gouache, watercolor, over lead point or graphite, on paper prepared with gouache; framing line in pen and brown ink and gold paint
5 3/16 × 7 11/16 in. (13.2 × 19.5 cm) br>
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest and David T. Schiff and Annette de la Renta Gifts, 2013 (2013.646)
Here, on a sheet hardly larger than a postcard, the artist invites the viewer to enter the composition with the woman at lower left, wandering from the woodland, past the tavern, the brook, the church, the shepherds, and the roadside cross, to a riverbank at right, from where the view leads to a city at the foot of a mountain chain. Although drawings by Avercamp survive in relatively large numbers, most are quick sketches of figures or other motifs. His finished drawings are much rarer, and the present one is among his best of an imaginary landscape. A comparable sheet bears an inscription stating that it was sold in 1613 directly by Avercamp, confirming that his finished drawings were appreciated by collectors—and produced by the artist—as works of art in their own right. They must have delighted by the charm of the composition, the detail and lightness of the execution, and the freshness of the colors—and they still are able to do so today.