Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Abraham Bloemaert (Gorinchem, Netherlands, 1566 - 1651, Utrecht, Netherlands)


Studies of Running Figures

Creation Date



16th-17th century


4 5/8 in. x 6 3/8 in. (11.7 cm. x 16.19 cm.)

Object Type


Creation Place

Europe, Netherlands

Medium and Support

pen and brown ink and brown wash over black chalk on brown laid paper

Credit Line

Bequest of the Honorable James Bowdoin III


Public Domain

Accession Number

Abraham Bloemaert, the co-founder of Utrecht’s Guild of Saint Luke in 1611, helped to make this Dutch city a center of Northern Mannerism. Drawing the human figure was central to this endeavor, and the publication of a popular drawing manual for artists further established his legacy beyond the circle of his students. This quick study of movement is stylistically related to sketches in public collections in Darmstadt, Munich, and Berlin. Thematically, this work shows similarities to a more finished drawing by Bloemaert in the Hermitage, Saint Petersburg, that illustrates the Death of the Niobids, the slaying of the many children of Niobe, who had boasted that her offspring outnumbered those of the goddess Leto. Apollo and Artemis, Leto’s children, took deadly revenge on the whole family. While none of the figures in the Russian drawing directly coincide with those on this sheet, their panic-stricken movements and fluttering draperies are almost identical.

Keywords: figures (representations)   master drawing   work on paper   toga   body part   movement   elbow   figurative   woman   figure study   highlighting   running  

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