Ashmolean Museum Oxford

Bruegel to Rubens: Great Flemish Drawings Catalogue

by An Van Camp


This exhibition catalogue will accompany the Bruegel to Rubens: Great Flemish Drawings exhibition, held at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford between 22 March and 23 June 2024.

Through a selection of over 100 world-class drawings created by Flemish artists in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, an insightful and comprehensive overview is given into how these drawn sheets were used as part of artistic practice, within or beyond the artist’s studio. By revealing the drawings’ function, rather than on their attribution or iconography, these sheets can become more fully understood through the eyes of contemporary readers.

The three main essays within the catalogue each deal with one of the principal functions of drawings at the time: studies (copies and sketches), designs for other artworks (paintings, prints, tapestries, metalwork, stained glass, sculpture and architecture), and finally the independent drawings. Each essay discusses the relevant works within their functional context and compared with other related objects. There are introductory chapters that focus on what precisely can be considered a drawing, including its materials, media and techniques, in addition to an attempt to explain the notion of Flanders and Flemish art. Throughout the catalogue is an emphasis on how Flemish artists collaborated in creating the most astonishing artworks of their time, unveiling their networks and friendships, as well as their travels across Europe, revealing their international importance.

Prominent artists featured in this catalogue include Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, and Jacques Jordaens, among many others. Highlights also include a sketchbook in which a young Rubens has copied Holbein’s Dance of Death woodcuts, intricate pen and ink drawings by Pieter Bruegel, meticulously drawn miniatures by Joris Hoefnagel, portrait studies by Anthony van Dyck, and a rare survival of a friendship album containing numerous drawings and poems dedicated to its owner. Two recently discovered sheets by Rubens are also included, a design for a book-illustration on optics and an anatomical study of three legs.

The author, An Van Camp, is Christopher Brown Curator of Northern European Art at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology (University of Oxford).

The catalogue contains 190 Illustrations: 180 colour & 10 black & white.


Book contains: 244 pages.

Dimensions: 28 x 22cm