ANTHONIE VAN BORSSOM (1630-1677) - A Catalogue of His Drawings
aetas aurea xxiv
Alice I. Davies
2014. in 4to. 141 pp., including 186 illustrations (91 in color)
Cloth bound with dustjacket
ISBN 978 90 70288 09 9
Anthonie van Borssom was a resident of Amsterdam his entire life, active primarily as a landscape artist, who is associated with Rembrandt at the onset of his career. Werner Sumowski catalogued many of Borssom's drawings and paintings in 1979 and in 1983, respectively, in the sixteen volumes he devoted to fifty-four members of Rembrandt's school. Hollstein (1951) lists eight Borssom etchings of domestic animals and birds in landscape settings. A comprehensive monograph has not been published, and some confusion remains concerning aspects of the artist's life, including the year of his birth.
New information about Anthonie van Borssom's life is presented in the introductory essay for this updated catalogue of his watercolors and ink wash drawings. There is a growing consensus that Borssom's true talent and originality find their best expression in his drawings, and not in his largely derivative paintings. The new attention paid to his works on paper has brought a clearer understanding of his production. Besides elucidating the artist's biography and the complexities involving his name, the introductory text presents a discussion of his subjects (mostly Dutch landscapes, garden scenes, birds and animals, five church interiors, three allegorical series, and a few figures); the trips and excursions he made to depict identifiable sites in The Nether-lands and at Cleves, just over the German border; and the characteristics of his style which help secure attributions to his hand. New attributions are reported in the essay, involving both his contemporaries (mainly from Rembrandt's school) and also his dedicated followers in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The catalogue of Borssom's drawings is limited to those accepted by the author as authentic, and for which an illustration is available. The independent sheets are grouped by medium (watercolor; brown ink with brown wash; brown ink with grey or grey and brown wash; grey ink and black chalk), organized by size (larger to smaller). The most important work is the artist's sketchbook preserved at the British Museum, which is fully illustrated here. Sumowski (1979) reproduced six pages from the sketchbook, and illustrated 78 independent drawings by Borssom, while mentioning twelve more as authentic works.
This catalogue contains 122 independent sheets (not always in agreement with Sumowski's selection), some with sketches on their versos (likewise illustrated), in addition to the 94 complete sketches (sometimes several to a page) in the British Museum book. The independent drawings are supported by full entries: heading, inscriptions/marks, watermark, chain lines, provenance, literature, exhibitions, and notes. The volume is completed by a full bibliography (books and articles, exhibition catalogues, and sale catalogues) and two indexes (present collections and owners).