The copying of fine works by earlier masters has, of course, been a fundamental part of the standard artist's training for centuries, but in late 17th and 18th-century Holland, it became something of an independent art form. Jan de Bisschop was one of the first Dutch artists to make careful drawn copies like this, from the 1650s on, and later in the century this kind of copying became a more widespread practice, leading to the wholesale production of elaborate watercolor copies that we see in Holland in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Nicolaas Verkolje was a specialist in elegant genre subjects, so it is perhaps not surprising that he should have chosen to copy one of Cornelis van Haarlem's most classicising compositions. The original painting by Cornelis is not known, but Van Thiel (loc. cit.
) believes it must have dated from circa
1588-1592. Compositional drawings like this by Verkolje are rare, but the present work can be compared stylistically with a signed pair of depictions of Nymphs and Satyrs
, in Stockholm1
, and the pair of drawings of scenes from the story of Diana, sold recently in Paris.2
1. Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, inv. nos. NMH 2187/1863 & 2188/1863; S. van Ooteghem, 'Cataloguing old master drawings in the Royal Library of Belgium. Two newly discovered drawings by Nicolaas Verkolje and Pieter Yver,' Delineavit et Sculpsit 37, 2014, p. 55, figs 4-5
2. Sale, Paris, Sotheby's, 15 September 2017, lot 29