The grounds for this theory, which is relevant to about a third of Cats' known drawings, was substantiated in part by this drawing and a pendant study, in The Pierpont Morgan Library, depicting A cow grazing in a field, facing left.2 Both drawings are numbered and dated on the verso, in the same distinctive hand, N 399 inv / 1783 and N 398 inv / 1783 respectively. Furthermore both studies are preparatory for two closely corresponding, highly finished watercolors, by Cats, in the Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam,3 which are signed and dated 1783, but as Turner notes "are not numbered".
Turner goes on to suggest that the numbered drawings may have formed part of some kind of pattern-book, from which clients would select compositions and motifs to be worked up into finished drawings and watercolors. The numbering system appears to be more or less chronological, allowing an approximate dating of any numbered but undated studies.
For further information on Cats and his inscriptions and numberings, see L.A. Schwartz, 'The "Thoughts" ("Gedagten") of Jacob Cats', Delineavit et Sculpsit, XXXI, December 2007, pp. 57-77.
1. Turner, op.cit., p. 324
2. New York, The Pierpont Morgan Library, inv. no. 1982.104
3. Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet, inv. nos. RP-T-1953-296 and RP-T-1953-295
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