These two drawings belong to a small group of similar studies of single figures by Saftleven, executed in this unusual watercolor technique, which are drawn on the back of playing cards. Whether Saftleven actually made these drawings to be used as a pack of cards is not clear, but they are all consistent in terms of size, compositional approach and technique, so perhaps they were. Nonetheless, when Wolfgang Schulz wrote his 1982 monograph on the artist, he knew of only thirteen such drawings1: two of these are in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, while others are in Amsterdam, the Lugt collection in Paris and private collections.2 Perhaps surprisingly, the two examples illustrated by Schulz (his cat nos.1326 and 1327) in fact join together, to form a single landscape scene.
The distinctive colouring of these "playing card" drawings is also very similar to that seen in the unusual, coloured drawing of a farmyard, by Herman's brother Cornelis Saftleven, sold, Amsterdam, Christie's, 10 November 1999, lot 323.
1. Schulz, op. cit., cats. 1315-1327
2. Two others were sold, Amsterdam, Sotheby's, 4 November 2003, lots 68-69
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