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16. Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp

16. Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp

Dordrecht 1594 – 1652 Dordrecht

Portrait of a Young Man, Aged Nineteen, 1630

When he purchased this drawing in 1928, Frits Lugt wrote the following note on its inventory card: ‘To the best of my knowledge, there are no known drawings by Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp. This important sheet may therefore be the only one that has survived.’1 Today the drawn oeuvre of the Dordrecht artist stands at fifteen sheets.2 Nonetheless, this sheet is one of only two signed drawings by Jacob Cuyp and is consequently an important key to understanding Cuyp as a draughtsman.3

Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp was long regarded simply as the father and teacher of the famous landscape painter Aelbert Cuyp (1620-1691), without any attempt being made to define his own qualities as an artist – until the Dordrechts Museum devoted an exhibition to him in 2002. It shed light on his versatility, which is also evident in his drawn work featuring genre figures, religious and allegorical scenes and landscapes. Even so, the image of Jacob Cuyp as a portrait painter of the Dordrecht bourgeoisie persists. The eighty or so portraits he painted reinforce this. This might lead us to think that there are also more drawn portraits by his hand. However, aside from the sheet discussed here, there is only one other portrait drawing attributed to Cuyp, that of a woman in red chalk.4

The finished impression the drawing makes, and the fact that Cuyp signed and dated it, imply that it is a work of art in its own right. Egbert Haverkamp Begemann consequently regarded this portrait as a translation of Jacob’s ideas from oil on panel to chalk on paper.5 The artist achieved a convincing result with the combination of red and black chalk – alternating between soft modelling and hard accents – and some highlights in white (aux trois crayons). It could portray his half-brother and pupil Benjamin Gerritsz. Cuyp (1612-1652), who was nineteen in 1630, but we know of no other portrait that is definitely of him.6

A curious mirror-image copy of this drawing came on to the Amsterdam art market in 2002.7 The chalk drawing on blue paper suggests that a contre-épreuve may have been made of our portrait, which in its turn was copied at a later date (the sheet appears to be dated 1662 lower right).8


1‘Teekeningen van Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp zijn, bij mijn weten, niet bekend. Dit belangrijke blad zou dus het eenige bewaarde zijn.’, inventory book of Frits Lugt, Fondation Custodia, Paris.

2There are also two drawings that Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp and Aelbert Cuyp drew together, and six drawings questionably or wrongly attributed to Jacob Cuyp, see Haverkamp Begemann 2002, pp. 193-199.

3Yale University Library, New Haven, CT, inv. no. 1961.63.20; Haverkamp Begemann 2002, no. d5, fig. 83.

4Haverkamp Begemann 2002, no. d4, fig. 86 (present whereabouts unknown).

5Haverkamp Begemann 2002, p. 76.

6Exh. cat. New York/Paris 1977-78, p. 44.

7Sale, Amsterdam (Sotheby’s), 5 November 2002, no. 216, as ‘Dutch School 17th century’.

8The dimensions of this copy (241 × 189 mm) are approximately those of the original sheet.