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Bloemaert: Madonna in Glory

Price: $30,000 / £19,200 / €22,800

Dimensions: H: 8.75" (22.2cm)   W: 6.5625" (16.7cm)   

ABRAHAM BLOEMAERT Gorinchem 1564 1651 Utrecht

Madonna in Glory surrounded by Angels.

Drawing in brown pen and wash over black chalk, heightened extensively with white; circa 1615-25. Signed by the artist A Bloemaert. fe at lower right.


Published: Jaap Bolten, Abraham Bloemaert c. 1565-1651 The Drawings, 2007, 2 volumes, number 207.


Bloemaert s long and successful career exemplifies the longevity and flexibility of

Mannerism and Caravaggism in Netherlandish art. As a practicing Catholic, he received many religious commissions, but he also painted a large number of mythological subjects as well. He was assisted by a large shop that included several of his sons. His artistic training began in earnest in Paris in the early 1580s where he came in contact with French Mannerism in the form of works of the School of Fontainebleau. He returned to Utrecht in 1585 and by around 1590 he began to assimilate the Mannerism of Bartholomaeus Spranger and Cornelisz. van Haarlem. Bloemaert steadily modified the extreme figural and spatial elements of late Netherlandish Mannerism with less dramatic and sensual figural forms and more naturalistic spatial configurations. His Caravaggist phase began with the return of his student Gerrit van Honthorst in the early 1620s and for the rest of his career he often painted in either mode.


Bloemaert was a passionate, and perhaps obsessive draftsman, both as a recorder of forms and creator of precisely conceived images. Our drawing is a fully realized vision of the Madonna in glory, a not infrequent subject in religious painting of the period. It is not known if our drawing, with its elaborate signature in precise chancery script represents a modello for another work. It is noteworthy that Bloemaert combined the iconography of the Madonna in glory, surrounded by adoring angels holding a crown over her head, and the Madonna of humility, seated in an attitude of prayer and wearing a simple garment.


Bloemaert has used extensive white heightening to dramatize the cosmic scale of the scene and the movement of figures; the angels who wheel about the Madonna recede into a space made brilliant by the divine light radiating from her form. While the Madonna remains the still center of the image, the angels about her float effortlessly while lifting her trailing robes. This chiaroscuro drawing style was frequently used by Bloemaert, not surprisingly, in drawings of devotional subjects. We can compare to our sheet Bolten s catalogue no. 202, Mary Kneeling on a Cloud in a Glory of winged Children-angels, also signed and dated by Bolten to the same period. The cosmic qualities of our composition can be seen in other drawings, even considerably later in date; The Tetragrammaton as a symbol of God the Father in a Glory of winged Children-angels of 1648 (Bolten 186). Bloemaert also used this technique in dramatic mythological representations; Apollo and Diana Killing the Niobids (Bolten 510) is typical of this use of the chiaroscuro technique.


222 x 166 mm. 8 x 6 9/16 inches