Gerson Digital : Poland


4. The Drawing Book of Reyer Claesz., Merchant of Danzig

Erik P. Löffler

A Dutch private collection contains an unpublished book of drawings of the first half of the 17th century. It consists of 100 alternately white and blue sheets measuring about 43 by 28 centimeters each. The book is composed of 25 gatherings of two singly folded folio sheets each, with the inner sheet ever washed in blue on both sides.The watermark, a crosier in a crowned escutcheon, hails from the Swiss city of Basel, where much North-European paper originated at that time. Printed off-centre on the front cover of the leather binding is the following text: KONST BOECK VOOR / REYER CLAESSOON.

This article sheds some light on this mysterious Reyer Claesz. (1577-1638) and on the content of this drawing book, in which the hands of several artists may be discerned. A series of 15 drawings in the book can be attributed with some reservations to the artist Rombout Uylenburgh (c.1580/5-1628), who was active at the Polish court.1

I am grateful to Edwin Buijsen, Hein Horn, Patrick Larsen, Rieke van Leeuwen, Robert Schillemans, Tico Seifert, Jacek Tylicki and Rens Top for their corrections and advice during the writing of this contribution.

Cover image
studio of Rombout Uylenburgh
The Annunciation, c. 1605-1615
blue washed paper, pen in black ink, brush in black and grey, heightened in white (oxidised) 425 x 278 mm
Private collection, inv./ fol. 3 recto

Reyer Claesz. (merchant) and studio of Rombout Uylenburgh and Jacob Adriaensz. Backer and Meesters van het Van Eeghen Tekenboek
Drawing book from the first half of the 17th century; size of the binding: c. 435 x 285 mm; on front cover: KONST BOECK VOOR / REYER CLAESSOON; content: 100 sheets of 425 x 278 mm. = 50 fol., folded once, in 25 quires of 2 sheets, of which each inner one is washed with blue at both sides; watermark: crosier in crowned shield., c. 1600-1635
paper 43.5 x 28.5 cm
Private collection


1 In September 2013 Rens Top, curator of the Bindings Collection of the Royal Library in The Hague confirmed on the basis of a photograph that the binding dates from the same period. The spine, composed of six ribs, is blank.

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