Study of a Smiling Young Woman - Terbrugghen, Hendrick

Fine Art

Terbrugghen, Hendrick

1588 – 1629


Study of a Smiling Young Woman

Red and black chalk, touches of white gouache
71/2 x 6 3/16 inches (191 x 158mm)


J.P. Heseltine (L. 1508) who was born in 1843;
By descent to M. Hesseltine (who stamped his drawings w/ I.P.H. in red ink on the verso, with Thomas Le Claire, Hamburg in 1987; Sale Sotheby’s London 1989


To be published by Dr. Wayne Franits in his forthcoming reworking of the manuscript begun by Leonard Slatkus.


To be published by Dr. Wayne Franits in his forthcoming reworking of the manuscript begun by Leonard Slatkus.

Dr. Leonard Slatkes, who had worked on the catalogue raisoné of Hendrick Terbrugghen until he passed away in 2005, had written an entry for this drawing, citing it as in an unknown location. He doubted its authenticity, thinking it a trois crayon drawing and thus more likely of French 18th century origin. He questioned the “said” Heseltine provenance. But the drawing, as can now be seen, was executed in only red & black chalks with some white gouache heightening (which was likely added later). This technique would not have been unknown to Terbrugghen, presumably a student of Abraham Bloemart, a very prolific draftsman in many media. And on the verso, the stamp of Heseltine is clearly visible. But then Prof. Slatkes had not been able to see the actual drawing and was acquainted only with a photograph.

Heseltine’s collection was a very distinguished one, including drawings of all schools. Among the northern school, there were exemplary drawings by Holbein, Durer, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Van Dyck. His French drawings were acquired by the Louvre in 1918; the British Museum acquired its choice from all schools, and the Italian drawings were acquired largely by the collector, H. Oppenheimer. Some drawings were distributed among Heseltine’s friends, some were bought by Colnaghi, some were sold at auction, and many descended to M. Heseltine, including the present drawing. This is known because the particular stamp on the verso was only applied by him to the drawings that came to him.

Though Prof. Slatkes’ dismissal of this very engaging study can be contested, there are no drawings at present which are generally accepted as Terbrugghen’s. Prof. Wayne Franits, who will publish Slatkes’ unfinished work and enlarge upon it, has noted that knowledge of Utrecht School drawings is sorely lacking. There are no drawings which can be given to Terbrugghen’s younger contemporary Barburen either. Both had been to Italy, both were enamored of the Caravaggesque idiom; they shared a studio and seemed to share commissions. And there is no evidence that they drew.

Still it is apparent that the present drawing relates to the female subject in a painting by Terbrugghen entitled Mercenary Love, presently in Boston in a private collection. It is apparent that the model in the drawing is younger than the woman in the painting and that the technique used by the draftsman is consistent with that of a preparatory study. But it is awfully close to the painted version, and that, along with the lack of comparable material, begs for caution. It also seems likely that the drawing was reworked at a later date. Both the red & black chalks are layered on, sometimes with assuredness, sometimes for reasons not apparent. In addition to such quality disparities, there are just too many types of black chalk used to believe that these were all applied at one sitting. However, the quality, the lifelike freshness and the utterly beguiling nature of the drawing are not in doubt.

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