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Samuel van Hoogstrat­en, Dutch, 1627-1678: Studies of Three Standing Figures and a Head, c. 1645-50 

In his 1678 trea­tise, The Vis­i­ble World, Samuel van Hoogstrat­en wrote: It is there­fore very use­ful and nec­es­sary to start early doing much draw­ing after life. And even though the schools with nude ses­sions are not always avail­able, there is no lack of sub­ject mat­ter.” 1

After com­plet­ing his train­ing, Van Hoogstrat­en, like many artists, con­tin­ued to draw stud­ies from life as a reg­u­lar prac­tice to keep his skills honed. Here, he cap­tured work­ing-class fig­ures going about their busi­ness in the streets around him. Though the three full-length fig­ures appear to have been drawn sep­a­rate­ly, he placed them in rel­a­tive dimin­ish­ing scale on the sheet. This arrange­ment cre­ates a mise-en-page sug­ges­tive of a cohe­sive com­po­si­tion (per­haps reflex­ive­ly) despite the fig­ures’ obvi­ous men­tal and con­cep­tu­al iso­la­tion from each other.

The Peck draw­ing is one of a num­ber of such stud­ies to sur­vive that must have belonged to one of Van Hoogstraten’s sketch­books.2

Oth­ers have like­wise been trimmed from a larg­er sheet, evi­dent here by the head study on the left edge that has been cut through the mid­dle. Judg­ing from the prove­nance, this prob­a­bly occurred some­time in the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry. Two relat­ed sheets in the École des Beaux-Arts, like­wise cropped, bear close styl­is­tic sim­i­lar­i­ties to the present draw­ing Fig. 23.1,Fig. 23.2.3

Samuel van Hoogstraten, Sheet of Studies with a Man and a Woman
Fig. 23.1

Samuel van Hoogstrat­en, Sheet of Stud­ies with a Man and a Woman, c. 1650. Pen and brown ink on paper, 118 × 76 mm. Paris, École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, inv. no. Mas.1935.

Samuel van Hoogstraten, The Little Shepherds
Fig. 23.2

Samuel van Hoogstrat­en, The Lit­tle Shep­herds, c. 1650. Pen and brown ink on paper, 62 × 55 mm. Paris, École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, inv. no. Mas.1934.

Con­sen­sus that Van Hoogstrat­en was the author of these three works was only achieved after a num­ber of alter­na­tive artists had been sug­gest­ed, though schol­ars have long looked among mem­bers of Rembrandt’s cir­cle. In the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry, the Peck draw­ing was thought pos­si­bly to have been the work of Ger­brand van den Eeck­hout (1621 – 1674).4

Eduard Trautscholdt reject­ed this attri­bu­tion in 1968 and gave it to Bar­ent Fab­ri­tius (1624 – 1673), with the sug­ges­tion that it might also be by Van Hoogstrat­en.5

The lat­ter attri­bu­tion was adopt­ed by Wern­er Sumows­ki, who pub­lished it with a group of other sim­i­lar fig­ure study sketch­es by Van Hoogstrat­en in his cor­pus of draw­ings by the artist.6

Sumows­ki had attrib­uted the two relat­ed draw­ings in the École des Beaux-Arts, by con­trast, to Nico­laes Maes.7

More recent­ly, Peter Schat­born right­ly argued for Van Hoogstraten’s author­ship for those as well, based on a com­par­i­son of more round­ed forms of the fig­ures than in Maes’s sketch­es (which tend to be more angu­lar) and the small zones of hatch­ing that one finds in some of his other signed or secure­ly attrib­uted draw­ings.8

Some affin­i­ty between Van Hoogstraten’s and Maes’s works is not entire­ly sur­pris­ing since both artists hailed from Dor­drecht and had stud­ied with Rem­brandt in the 1640s.9

This is one of the best real­ized of Van Hoogstraten’s small study draw­ings from life, show­ing an artist adroit­ly at work try­ing to cap­ture the atti­tude and bear­ing of the sub­jects before him, and lend­ing a sense of char­ac­ter to the fig­ures in the process. Sumowski’s sug­ges­tion that this sheet dates to the late 1640s is a rea­son­able one.10

It was per­haps made dur­ing his final years with Rem­brandt in Ams­ter­dam or dur­ing his early career as an inde­pen­dent mas­ter in Dor­drecht, where he had returned in 1648 for a few years before embark­ing on a mul­ti­year jour­ney across Europe in 1651.

End Notes

  1. Trans­la­tion taken from Brusati & Jacobs 2021, 87. For the orig­i­nal text, see Van Hoogstrat­en 1678, 35.

  2. See Sumows­ki Draw­ings, vol. 5, nos. 1263 – 69.

  3. Sumows­ki Draw­ings, vol. 8, nos. 1877x –78x (as Nico­laes Maes); and Lugt 1950, nos. 509 – 10 (as School of Rem­brandt, undoubt­ed­ly Maes).

  4. The draw­ing bears a nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry attribute to Van den Eeck­hout on the verso, and it was sold as a work pos­si­bly by him in the sale of the Suer­mondt col­lec­tion in 1879; see the Prove­nance above.

  5. Trautscholdt in deal­er cat. Boern­er 1968, no. 8.

  6. Sumows­ki Draw­ings, vol. 5, no. 1266x.

  7. Sumows­ki Draw­ings, vol. 8, nos. 1877x –78x . The attri­bu­tion to Maes was first sug­gest­ed by Frits Lugt, though he cat­a­logued the works as School of Rem­brandt; see Lugt 1950, nos. 509 – 10

  8. P. Schat­born in Paris & Ajac­cio 2012 – 14, 108 – 09, nos. 29a, 29b, cit­ing also the ear­li­er opin­ion by William Robin­son that the first of these draw­ings (cat. no. 29a) was not the work of Maes; see Robin­son 1996, 98, note 7.

  9. It is uncer­tain if Van Hoogstrat­en and Maes over­lapped in Rembrandt’s stu­dio, since Van Hoogstrat­en was back in Dor­drecht by 1648 at the lat­est and may have com­plet­ed his train­ing right around the time that Maes began his train­ing with Rem­brandt around 1646 – 47. For a sum­ma­ry of opin­ions about when Van Hoogstrat­en may have trained in Rembrandt’s stu­dio, see Robin­son 2011, 398, note 2. For the 1648 doc­u­ment that records him back in Dor­drecht, see Roscam Abbing 1993, 36, doc. 13. For Maes’s peri­od in Rembrandt’s stu­dio and his pos­si­ble rela­tion­ship with Van Hoogstrat­en, see A. van Suchte­len in The Hague & Lon­don 2019 – 20, 25 – 27.

  10. Sumows­ki Draw­ings, vol. 5, no. 1266x.