Studies of a Marrow Plant and Cabbages
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Abraham Bloemaert
Dutch, about 1605 - 1614
Pen and brown ink, blue wash and heightened with white bodycolor
9 3/4 x 14 1/2 in.

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Two cabbage plants, one quite tightly closed while the leaves of the other begin to unfurl, fill one side of a sheet. In the upper right, the tendrils of a squash or gourd plant reach out towards the center, with a fruit lying beneath the shade of its leaves. Abraham Bloemaert effectively contrasted such details as the broad leaves of the cabbage, with its coarse pattern of veins, with the delicate squash tendrils. Carefully applied areas of blue wash indicate shadows but also trail off into an atmospheric suggestion of continuity with the surrounding terrain.

One of Bloemaert's contemporaries noted that "he has a clever way of drawing with a pen, and by adding small amounts of watercolor, he produced unusual effects . " The spiraling forms of naturalistic motifs captivated Bloemaert and other Dutch artists in the 1600s. He frequently enlivened the foreground of his paintings and designs for prints with detailed illusionistically drawn plants. Being especially attracted to the pairing of cabbages and gourds, Bloemaert probably made this drawing as a study for such motifs in paintings or prints.