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Bowdoin College BCMA Logo Museum of Art

  • "John Smibeth"
    Type: inscription
    Location: center
    Materials: graphite
  • "No. 457/illn. [monogram]"
    Type: inscription and monogram
    Location: verso
    Materials: pen and brown ink
  • crowned L between two fleur-de-lis on crowned shield (similar to Briquet 8287, probably Lorraine manufacture, sixteenth century)
    Type: watermark
  • James Bowdoin III( Collector, Boston) - 1811.
  • Bowdoin College Museum of Art( Museum, Brunswick, Maine) 1811- . Bequest
  • Old Master Drawings at Bowdoin College
    • Bowdoin College Museum of Art. ( 5/17/1985 - 7/7/1985)
    • Clark Art Institute. ( 9/14/1985 - 10/27/1985)
    • University of Kansas. ( 1/19/1986 - 3/2/1986)
    • Art Gallery of Ontario. ( 5/17/1986 - 6/29/1986)
  • Nature Inhabited
    • Bowdoin College Museum of Art. ( 4/20/1995 - 6/4/1995)
  • Drawings from Maine Collections
    • Colby College Museum of Art. ( 5/14/1978 - 7/16/1978)

Type: catalogue
Author: Henry Johnson
Document Title: Catalogue of the Bowdoin College Art Collections
Publ. Place: Brunswick, Maine
Reference: no. 72
Remarks: (as Smibert)
Publisher: Bowdoin College
Section Title: Pt. 1, The Bowdoin Drawings
Date: 1885

Type: catalogue
Author: Bowdoin College Museum of Art
Document Title: Bowdoin Museum of Fine Arts, Walker Art Building
Publ. Place: Brunswick, Maine
Reference: no. 75
Remarks: (as Smibert)
Publisher: Bowdoin College
Section Title: Descriptive Catalogue of the . . .
Date: 1930

Author: H. W. Foote
Document Title: John Smibert Painter
Publ. Place: Cambridge
Location: p. 232
Remarks: (as sixteenth-century)
Date: 1950

Author: M. S. Sadik
Document Title: Colonial and Federal Portraits at Bowdoin College
Publ. Place: Brunswick, Maine
Location: pp. 216-217
Remarks: (as not by Smibert)
Date: 1966

Author: M. Chappell
Document Title: Art Bulletin, vol. 64, no. 1
Location: pp. 137
Remarks: (as not Smibert)
Section Title: A Note on John Smibert's Italian Sojourn
Date: 1982

Type: exhibition catalogue
Author: David P. Becker
Document Title: Old Master Drawings at Bowdoin College
Publ. Place: Brunswick, Maine
Location: pp. 26-27
Reference: no. 10
Remarks: (as German, sixteenth century)
Publisher: Bowdoin College
Date: 1985

Document Title: Artists in Maine, vol. I, no. 1
Publ. Place: Portland, Maine
Location: p. 35
Reference: illus.
Publisher: Artists in Maine
Section Title: AM Book Review
Date: 1986

Author: Julia W. Vicinus
Document Title: Nature Inhabited
Publ. Place: Brunswick, Maine
Location: p. 12
Reference: no. 3
Publisher: Bowdoin College
Date: 1995

This sheet is significant for being one of three in the original Bowdoin bequest to be inscribed with the name of John Smibert (see BCMA 1811.55 and BCMA 1811.54), thus constituting the primary concrete evidence for the Smibert provenance for the collection (see 1985 Introduction). None of the three drawings has anything to do with Smibert's own art, and this particular design was quickly established by several scholars as dating from the sixteenth century.1 Though Frits Lugt thought it was of Flemish origin, more recently most authorities have placed it in Germany, probably in the area of Nuremberg.2

The design has been thought to be a model for a silver dish. It could also conceivably have been a model for a ceramic piece, a box lid, or even an engraving in a model book. The scene is of a caravan of animals and armed soldiers traversing countryside which includes a camp among hills, towns, and a river with a pontoon bridge across it. The sketchiness and small size of the figures hamper an accurate attribution, but parallels with the draughtsmanship of Nuremberg artists of the time can be found. A larger sheet attributed to Erhard Schön (ca. 1491-1542) in the Germanischen Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, depicting a similar subject, has similarities in figure type and landscape style.3 The cruder pen work in the Bowdoin drawing could be attributable to its being a contemporary copy of another, more sophisticated study. Designs for works of art in other media were often copied and circulated within (and outside of) workshops.

1. Comments in BCMA files: Sir Robert Witt "German, ca. 1550"; Hans Tietze "at least 200 years earlier than Smibert"; Frits Lugt "Flemish 16th cen. style of Hans Bol."

2. Ingrid Weber and Konrad Oberhuber independently suggested such an origin.

3. Inv. no. Hz 194, repr. in F. Zink, Die Handzeichnungen bis zur Mitte des 16. Jahrhunderts, vol. I. Die deutschen Handzeichnungen (Nuremberg, 1968), p. 139, cat. no. 109.

Commentary credited to David P. Becker (or not otherwise captioned) appeared in his catalogue Old Master Drawings at Bowdoin College (Brunswick: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 1985).