Although he never published it, Haverkamp-Begemann was largely convinced that this rapidly drawn study of a young man bending to put on or adjust his boot was indeed by Buytewech. With its extremely dashing pen-work and broad, liquid washes of brown and gray, it is clearly rather different in execution from the most familiar and frequently published drawings by the artist, yet further investigation reveals that there are in fact a number of other drawings in Haverkamp-Begemann’s catalogues that are indeed very comparable to this.
Perhaps the closest, in terms of the dashing, almost scribbled, handling of the pen, are the drawing of an old woman cooking pancakes, in Leipzig, and another kitchen interior scene, now in the collection of Central College, Pella, Iowa.3 Haverkamp-Begemann related both drawings stylistically to the important Anatomy Lesson at Leiden, in Rotterdam, which can in turn be linked in terms of style with the drawing of A whale beached between Scheveningen and Katwijk in 1617, in Berlin, the preparatory drawing for Buytewech’s own etching of the same year.4 In the kitchen interior in Pella, Iowa, the artist has also employed very broad, flat washes that are rather similar to what we see here, and the same is very true of the Rijksmuseum’s fascinating drawing of The Holy Family.5 Taking all these comparisons together, it is clear that there are good reasons for taking the suggested attribution to Buytewech extremely seriously.
Nicknamed ‘geestige Willem’ (‘witty William’) in his own time, Buytewech’s wit, imagination and technical gifts as a draughtsmen were recognised then, as now. His drawings are extremely rare, and hardly ever come to the market.
1. E. Haverkamp-Begemann, Willem Buytewech, Amsterdam 1959
2. Willem Buytewech 1591-1624, exh. cat., Rotterdam, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, and Paris, Fondation Custodia, 1974-75, catalogue by E. Haverkamp-Begemann & C. van Hasselt
3. Leipzig, Museum der bildenden Künste, inv. nr. I. 336; Haverkamp-Begemann, op. cit., 1959, no. 38 & 38a.
4. Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, inv. no W. Buytewech 1, Haverkamp-Begemann 1959, no. 32; Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, inv. no. 768, Haverkamp-Begemann no. 35
5. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. no. RP-T-1890-A-2369; Haverkamp-Begemann 1959, no. 6
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