Art of the early modern Low Countries occupies a principal place within the encyclopedic and global collections of the Harvard Art Museums. The pinnacle of the institution’s holdings in this area is its drawings collection, which through various gifts—particularly those from Charles Loeser, Meta and Paul J. Sachs, and, most remarkably, Maida and George Abrams—has become the most important repository of Netherlandish, especially Dutch, drawings in North America. Highlights include exceptional sheets by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Rubens, Goltzius, Jacques de Gheyn, Rembrandt, Aelbert Cuyp, and Adriaen van Ostade. Similarly, engravings, etchings, and woodcuts from the Netherlands constitute an area of enormous strength and breadth within the Museums’ vast holdings of prints. Among these riches, which include the Francis Calley Gray and Light-Outerbridge collections and the Spencer albums, are especially superb impressions by Goltzius, Buytewech, and Rembrandt. The paintings collection, long distinguished by masterworks by Joos van Cleve, Rubens, and Rembrandt, grew substantially in scope in 2016-2017 with gifts from Peter and Anne Brooke of outstanding pictures by Jan van Goyen, Jan van Huysum II, Aert van der Neer, and several other seventeenth-century Dutch masters. In addition to special exhibitions, designated spaces in nearly every gallery of the museum permit the continual rotation of works on paper, bringing prints, drawings, and paintings into fruitful dialogue. Through the institution’s Art Study Center, the entirety of the collection is accessible to students, faculty, and the broader public and is regularly used for teaching and research both within and beyond the Harvard community. Works in all media are featured on the Harvard Art Museums’ collections online , and in spring 2019, the institution launched a comprehensive, actively growing online catalogue dedicated to its Netherlandish drawings entitled Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt.
Joanna Seidenstein, Stanley H. Durwood Foundation Curatorial Fellow, and Susan Anderson, Curatorial Research Associate (November 2019)