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The Arch of Septimius Severus, Rome
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This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.

Cornelis van Poelenburgh
Dutch, 1623
Pen and brown ink and brown wash over black chalk
11 7/16 x 7 5/8 in.
87.GG.76

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After choosing this unusual side angle on the arch of Septimius Severus, Cornelis van Poelenburgh concentrated on the contrasting patterns of sunlight and shade on the structure. He juxtaposed broadly washed areas of deep shadow with brilliantly illuminated passages articulated by the white paper. His interesting choice of an oblique view of the arch, highlighting the narrow columns, and his omission of several architectural features allowed Poelenburgh to treat it as blocks of light and shadow rather than as a specific structure. Clusters of vegetation growing through cracks in the stonework, formed with simple, looped strokes, appear as the only distraction.

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