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  • "P"
    Type: inscription
    Location: lower right
    Materials: pen and brown ink
  • 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)

The subject of the drawing is from 2 Kings 2:1-12, which describes the ascent of the prophet Elijah into heaven on a fiery chariot while his successor Elisha looks on in wonder. Loosely based on a print by Abraham Bloemaert of 1604 (fig. 1), the artist has reversed the scene. The chariot is nearly identical to that in the print, but Elisha’s cloak is swept up by the wind and the landscape is closer to the original story, which is set in a dry desert. The artist may have perhaps been influenced by the ca. 1648 fresco in the church of San Martino ai Monti in Rome by the landscape painter Gaspard Dughet (fig. 2) for the setting, but the figures are closer to Bloemaert’s print. The billowing drapery surrounding Elisha is likely the mantle of Elijah, which he dropped to his successor while ascending and which is depicted at center in Bloemaert’s print. Stylistically, the drawing dates to the later half of the seventeenth century and is possibly by a French or Dutch artist.

Sarah Cantor


Fig. 1: Jan Saenredamn after Abraham Bloemaert Elisha and Elijah’s Chariot of Fire, 1604, engraving

Fig. 2: Gaspard Dughet Elisha and Elijah’s Chariot of Fire, ca. 1648-50, fresco, San Martino ai Monti, Rome

Further Reading:

Bandes, Susan J. “Gaspard Dughet and San Martino ai Monti.” Storia dell’arte 26 (1976): 45-60.

Heideman, Johanna. “The Dating of Gaspard Dughet’s Frescoes in San Martino ai Montiin Rome.” The Burlington Magazine 122, no. 929 (August 1980): 540-546.

Roethlisberger, Marcel G. Abraham Bloemaert and His Sons: Paintings and Prints. 2 vol. Doornspijk: Davaco, 1993.

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).