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Cor­nelis Dusart, Dutch, 1660-1704: Study of a Young Man Stand­ing with His Foot on a Stool, c. 1690-1700 

Cor­nelis Dusart’s full-length stud­ies of fig­ures in dynam­ic poses are inno­v­a­tive for their use of mul­ti­ple color chalks. His use of red to sug­gest areas of exposed flesh espe­cial­ly adds to the live­ly appear­ance of his sub­jects. Dusart made over 200 draw­ings for stu­dio use of young men relax­ing, drink­ing, and enjoy­ing them­selves, but only a frac­tion of them sur­vive today. The fig­ures typ­i­cal­ly dis­play some level of drunk­en­ness as a comic ele­ment as well as var­ied facial expres­sions and active ges­tures. The man here, while not obvi­ous­ly under the influ­ence, may be a tav­ern- goer based on his care­free pose, relaxed grin, and the slack stock­ing on his right leg.

Cor­nelis Dusart made a num­ber of full-length fig­ure stud­ies in chalk that explore dynam­ic poses, often using young men whose dis­po­si­tions sug­gest relax­ing, drink­ing, or gen­er­al enjoy­ment. These stud­ies have been linked with those in an album in Dusart’s post­mortem inven­to­ry described as: Men drawn from life by Dusart, 251 pieces.“1

Only a frac­tion of that num­ber sur­vives today, with per­haps fewer than three dozen sheets fit­ting such a descrip­tion. They pro­vide us with a valu­able record of Dusart’s approach to mas­ter­ing the com­pli­cat­ed poses required of a painter who spe­cial­ized in humor­ous and often rau­cous genre scenes. While it is clear from his inven­to­ry that he cre­at­ed and held onto these stud­ies for stu­dio use, they func­tion today as comic draw­ings that delight in their own right, depict­ing char­ac­ters seem­ing­ly plucked out of Dusart’s paint­ings for clos­er appre­ci­a­tion and a more relat­able, direct encounter.

Dusart would some­times use the same mod­els on more than one occa­sion. The young man here bears sim­i­lar fea­tures and wears the same cap as a model for a fig­ure study that recent­ly appeared on the art mar­ket Fig. 64.1.

Cornelis Dusart, Young Man Leaning on a Chair
Fig. 64.1

Cor­nelis Dusart, Young Man Lean­ing on a Chair. Black, red, and yel­low chalk, with touch­es of brown and gray wash on paper, 305 × 210 mm. Present where­abouts unknown.

The fig­ures in both this and the Peck draw­ing lean against the back of a light­ly sketched chair. Anoth­er can­di­date for the same model can be found in the Young Man Seat­ed with a Pipe in the Alberti­na Fig. 64.2.2

Cornelis Dusart, Young Man Seated with a Pipe
Fig. 64.2

Cor­nelis Dusart, Young Man Seat­ed with a Pipe. Black and red chalk with gray wash on paper, 176 × 113 mm. Vien­na, Alberti­na, inv. no. 10406.

This lat­ter fig­ure has more obvi­ous­ly imbibed a few too many drinks. Dusart often con­veyed drunk­en­ness in these fig­ure stud­ies in order to inten­tion­al­ly com­pli­cate the expres­sion­al ges­tures, and of course to add an ele­ment of humor.3

The young man in the Peck draw­ing seems some­what sober by com­par­i­son (or at least less ragged), but his slight­ly slack jaw and jaun­ty pose, not to men­tion the slipped stock­ing on his right leg reveal­ing a bit of flesh, all sug­gest that he could nev­er­the­less eas­i­ly rep­re­sent a fig­ure from a pub environment.

While he was close­ly influ­enced in style and draw­ing prac­tice by his teacher, Adri­aen van Ostade (1610 – 1685), whose stu­dio con­tents he would later own, full-length fig­ure stud­ies like these are more par­tic­u­lar to Dusart.4

Though he was not the first Dutch artist to make full-length fig­ure stud­ies, he was cer­tain­ly inno­v­a­tive in his use of mul­ti­ple color chalks to do so.5

He often used red chalks to sug­gest flesh areas, as one sees here in the face, hands, and exposed calf. Such an approach gives these works a for­ward-look­ing appear­ance, one more typ­i­cal­ly found in the eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry. Dusart like­ly cir­cu­lat­ed a few of these draw­ings, some being signed and dated, but most prob­a­bly remained with the artist.6

Assign­ing dates to works like this one can be prob­lem­at­ic, but a date in the early 1680s, at the begin­ning of his career, seems most plau­si­ble.7

End Notes

  1. Bredius 1915 – 22, vol. 1, 65. See G. Lui­jten in New York, Fort Worth & Cleve­land 1990 – 91, 95 – 97, no. 32; and W. W. Robin­son in Ams­ter­dam, Vien­na, New York & Cam­bridge 1991 – 92, 210 – 11, no. 96.

  2. Young Man Lean­ing on a Chair, Christie’s, Lon­don, 3 July 2013, lot 47; and Young Man Seat­ed with a Pipe, Vien­na, Alberti­na, inv. no. 10406. A sub­stan­tial num­ber of other draw­ings depict a young man of a sim­i­lar age and appear­ance, such as the Young Peas­ant Seat­ed, Paris, Fon­da­tion Cus­to­dia, Col­lec­tion Frits Lugt, inv. no. 2000 (New York & Paris 1977 – 78, 51, no. 33, pl. 106); and A Seat­ed Man, Rot­ter­dam, Muse­um Boi­j­mans Van Beunin­gen, inv. no. MB 338 (New York, Fort Worth & Cleve­land 1990 – 91, 95 – 97, no. 32, with fur­ther exam­ples of pos­si­bly the same young man). See also Seat­ed Boy with a Book, Ams­ter­dam, Rijksmu­se­um, inv. no. RP-T-1881-A-103 (Ams­ter­dam & Wash­ing­ton 1981 – 82, no. 43, 111); and Seat­ed Young Man with a Fur Hat, Vien­na, Alberti­na, inv. no. 10402 (Mil­wau­kee 2005 – 06, 134 – 37, no. 63).

  3. For exam­ples of sim­i­lar stud­ies with drunk-appear­ing fig­ures, see espe­cial­ly the Seat­ed Man with a Large Hat in the Fogg Muse­um, Cam­bridge (Robin­son & Ander­son 2016, 110 – 12, no. 28); and the same model in Seat­ed Man Stick­ing Out His Tongue, Haar­lem, Teylers Muse­um, inv. no. S17. See also F. F. Hofrichter in New Brunswick 1983, 74 – 76, no. 34; sug­gest­ing that these draw­ings por­trayed a com­me­dia del­l’arte actor, given his cloth­ing, which would put the appear­ance of drunk­en­ness more in the mode of farce.

  4. Ams­ter­dam & Wash­ing­ton 1981 – 82, 110 – 12.

  5. W. W. Robin­son in Ams­ter­dam, Vien­na, New York & Cam­bridge 1991 – 92, 208 – 09, no. 95.

  6. For a group of these fig­ure stud­ies dated 1686, see the entry by W. W. Robin­son in Lon­don, Paris & Cam­bridge 2002 – 03, 204 – 05, no. 89.

  7. A sim­i­lar water­mark is found on Young Peas­ant Seat­ed, Paris, Fon­da­tion Cus­to­dia, Col­lec­tion Frits Lugt, inv. no. 2000 (New York & Paris 1977 – 78, 51, no. 33, pl. 106; with the water­mark illus­trat­ed on p. 200). Susan Ander­son dates a relat­ed study in the Fogg Muse­um, Seat­ed Man with Large Hat, to circa 1685 (Robin­son & Ander­son 2016, no. 28, 110 – 12).