Standing Ruff

Object Details


Standing Ruff


Gerardus van Veen (Dutch, about 1620 - about 1683)




Holland, Europe (Place created)




Pen and brown ink, watercolor, and gouache over black chalk


23.3 × 27.1 cm (9 3/16 × 10 11/16 in.)

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The delicate patterns of the feathers on this ruff, a species of sandpiper (Philomachus pugnax), fascinated Gerardus van Veen. He chose a static, rather flat, profile view to set off the shape and texture of the bird's plumage, which he drew exquisitely with the point of a brush. When shown from the side, the bird's plumed ruff, protruding from its breast, appears more pronounced and the long, narrow beak is more noticeable. Van Veen produced the delicate tonal effect of the feathers by building up layers of watercolor and bodycolor over black chalk. His sure, light touch is particularly evident in the bird's white "petticoats."

Scholars believe Van Veen produced this study for a wealthy naturalist such as Agnes Block, who probably commissioned other bird studies from him. He specialized in producing refined natural history illustrations in watercolors for rich clients, many of whom owned country houses outside Amsterdam.

17th Century Dutch Drawings (July 21 to October 4, 1992)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), July 21 to October 4, 1992
Dutch Drawings of the Golden Age (May 28 to August 25, 2002)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 28 to August 25, 2002
Paper Art: Finished Drawings in Holland 1590-1800 (September 6 to November 20, 2005)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), September 6 to November 20, 2005