Allegory of Painting and Drawing

A shepherdess and her admirer gaze at each other in the center of a bucolic scene, the woman perched on top of a wall and about to lower a wreath over his head. The couple appears nestled in nature, with fluffy sheep clustered at right, and behind and above them, an aged tree with craggy branches. A cloth is tied around the shepherdess' mouth to stop her from speaking. According to the artist Gerard van Nijmegen's inscription on the verso, or reverse side of the drawing, she represents the silent art of Painting, and she crowns her male counterpart the discoverer of Drawing. To clarify his allegory, brushes and a palette rest beside the shepherdess. Beneath these attributes of Painting, a drawing of a female bust seems to lift up in the breeze. Typical of the artist, the allegory is full of charming rustic details found in his cabinet paintings of mountain and woodland views: a rushing waterfall, watchful dog, and sleeping flock. The drawing features pencil, pen, grey and brown ink. The grey washes, in particular, enhance the effect of dappled light. Small details also add charm, such as the varying textures of the tree bark, the delicate bows on her shoes, or his vest about to pop a button. The inscription on the wall, " Teekeningen van Verscheiden Meesters ," indicates the sheet was designed as a title page for an album that held drawings by various masters. In the 1700s, Dutch collectors typically organized their drawings thematically, storing them loosely in large, tooled leather albums. The drawing was probably made for the Rotterdam Drawings Society, Hierdoor tot Hooger (or, "Through this still Higher"), of which van Nijmegen was a member. This elite association of men of leisure held evening gatherings to discuss their collections and enjoy a shared enthusiasm for papier kunst , or "art on paper."

Pencil, pen and gray and brown ink, and gray wash (1801)

by Gerard van Nijmegen (Dutch, 1735-1808)

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