Brown wash with touches of gray wash and graphite
Image and Sheet: 8.7 x 15 cm (3 7/16 x 5 7/8 in.); Mounted: 23.6 x 30.8 cm (9 5/16 x 12 1/8 in.)
Nancy F. and Joseph P. Keithley Collection Gift 2020.127
In the early 17th century, European artists were just beginning to make sketches such as this one outdoors and onsite.
In the early 1600s, artists from Northern Europe began to take long trips to Italy as part of their artistic training. Bartholomeus Breenberg traveled to Italy around 1620 and probably stayed for at least 12 years. While there, he sketched ancient ruins and the countryside, features he would use in his paintings when he returned to Amsterdam in the 1630s. The area around the Lago di Bracciano, a volcanic lake northwest of Rome, was home to several medieval villages that provided charming vistas for artists. In his view, Breenberg emphasized the crumbling turret of a medieval castle in Bracciano in front of the ordered, linear outline of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta beyond. Combining gray and brown ink washes to plot gradations in tone, he created vivid contrasts of light and shade, capturing the effects of the bright Italian sunshine.
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