Museum Home Past Exhibitions Paper Art: Collecting Drawings in Holland, 1600-1800

September 6–November 20, 2005 at the Getty Center

Peasant Festival
Peasant Festival on a Town Street, Adriaen van Ostade, 1674
video Video: Curator Lee Hendrix describes the diversity of Dutch drawings.
learn_more See a close-up of the peasants at the center.

The Dutch economy boomed in the 17th century, creating a class of rich merchants who eagerly collected art. Many artists in Holland not only created vast numbers of paintings, but also began to make drawings as finished works for sale.

This exhibition examines the market for paper art and explores the techniques, subject matter, and style of these finished drawings. They provide a lively portrait of Dutch life at home and abroad, including seasonal scenes, flora and fauna, landscapes and cityscapes, and burghers and peasants.

Scenes of Everyday Life

Scenes of peasants and townspeople going about their daily lives enjoyed great popularity in the 17th century.

The scene of a peasant festival at the top of the page shows the picturesque charm, jewel tones, and fine details that made the drawings of Adriaen van Ostade popular with collectors. This watercolor is one of dozens van Ostade made in the 1670s.

Thatched Mill / Hendrik Meyer
A Thatched Mill by a Stream with a Shepherd, Hendrik Meyer, 1787
Recent Acquisition

As Holland declined as a world power in the 18th century, a combination of nationalism and nostalgia led Dutch artists to continue making the genre scenes popular in the 17th century.

This meticulous watercolor from the late 1700s portrays a mill bathed in warm summer sunlight. The scene brims with the activities of the season: a shepherd herds his flock, a family tends the mill, men harvest wheat, women converse, and a young boy daydreams.

The artist, Hendrik Meyer, was inspired by the work of van Ostade and other 17th-century artists.

Village Festival / Goyen
A Village Festival with Musicians Playing Outside a Tent, Jan van Goyen, 1653
learn_more See a close-up of the tent and figures at the bottom left.

Landscapes and Cityscapes

Jan van Goyen specialized in landscapes and charming town views, such as this scene of people gathering around a huckster's tent. This drawing shows his lively shorthand style combining wash and squiggly chalk lines.

Like many Dutch artists of his day, van Goyen was a market-savvy entrepreneur. He produced hundreds of drawings a year and supplemented his income by speculating in real estate and tulip bulbs.

View of Civitavecchia / Moninckx
View of Civitavecchia with the Harbor Wall, Pieter Moninckx, about 1660
Recent Acquisition
learn_more See a close-up of the boats and the tower at the left.


During their travels, Dutch artists recorded places they visited. These drawings evoked far-off places and allowed collectors to travel without leaving home.

In this view of Civitavecchia, the historic port of Rome, artist Pieter Moninckx contrasted colored washes with the white of the paper to capture the brilliant sunlight along the Mediterranean coast.

Portrait of Woman / Bailly
Portrait of a Woman, David Bailly, 1629
learn_more See a close-up of the woman's face.


Small pen-and-ink portraits became popular in the 1600s—they were quicker to make and less expensive to buy than traditional painted portraits.

David Bailly drew professors, students, and notables in the town of Leiden, the seat of Holland's oldest university. He drew the hair, lace, and shading around this unknown woman's face with meticulous detail.

The exhibition is located at the Getty Center, Museum, East Pavilion.