‘Do not believe those who say they love art, but who have never spent ten francs on a sketch or drawing.
For those who really love art, seeing it is not enough; one has to own a small piece of that art, whether one be rich or poor.’
(From the diary of Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, French writers and collectors, 11 May 1876)
Drawings are the most intimate expressions of the artist’s mind, explorative and playful, experimental and refined. Much more so than paintings, drawings provide an extraordinarily intimate insight into their makers: not only do they record the artist’s impressions and thoughts more directly and spontaneously, but they also tend to survive in more honest and original state than paintings, which are often disfigured by layers of overpaint and varnish through centuries of over-avid restoration. Drawings were functional tools in the artist’s studio, creative stages towards final pictorial compositions. The drawn oeuvre of an artist constituted a valuable resource of visual motifs and studies, and generally passed from master to pupil. Unlike paintings, drawings were intended for small audiences, like medieval prayer books, for careful contemplation and study.
Because of this vibrant intimacy, drawings have historically been especially favoured by artist-collectors, such as Giorgio Vasari, Rembrandt, Sir Peter Lely and Sir Joshua Reynolds, and by historians of art. Many collectors applied their individual stamped marks on their drawings, and it is especially fascinating to trace the provenance of drawings through successive collections.
Whereas previous generations of collectors generally kept their drawings in dedicated albums, interspersed between blank sheets (which has kept many of them in such pristine state), the development of uv-protective glass and acid-free mounting paper has made it possible to frame and hang drawings, and enjoy them on a daily basis – although it is still advised to avoid exposure to direct sunlight.
From a more mundane point of view, Old Master drawings have over the centuries proved to be very secure investments, and have even kept their value during the recent years of financial turmoil. At the same time they are still very affordable, frequently much more so than paintings. It is still possible to buy excellent sheets by good artists for reasonable prices.
Foolscap Fine Art is the result of a passion for art in general and Old Master drawings in particular. Named after one of the most popular watermarks employed by European paper-makers throughout the 16th to 19th centuries, Foolscap Fine Art was founded by Mark Broch, who bought his first Old Master drawing at auction age fifteen, a sheet attributed to Goltzius’s stepson Jacob Matham. He remembers being amazed that the minuscule budget of a schoolboy allowed for the purchase of authentic 17th-century drawings.
After working in the Old Master Drawings department at Christie’s Amsterdam, and internships at the print rooms of the Rijksmuseum and Teyler’s Museum in Haarlem, Mark now has many years experience in the field and has published on drawings in international art-historical journals. Mark was deeply involved in the discovery of what is increasingly believed to be the only extant life portrait of William Shakespeare, and he co-curated an exhibition revealing the portrait at Stratford-upon-Avon in 2009.
We firmly believe that the art-dealing world is evolving rapidly. The emergence of the internet has caused a rapid democratization of the collector, who now by a click of the mouse can access knowledge and resources which traditional dealers took a lifetime to compile. We embrace rather than oppose the new media, and believe there is a place for a dedicated website for lovers of drawings by the Old Masters, offered at fair prices, unconditionally authentic and genuine. We are able to offer interesting drawings at good prices exactly because we use the new media to their fullest extent, and are able to offer old master drawings for sale from a multitide of sources, from old private collections and provincial sales to Ebay, but all selected for quality and an excellent price/quality ratio.
We always present our drawings with full descriptions and clear high-res photographs. More images can be sent by email on request.
Foolscap Fine Art is based in a beautifully preserved canal house in Gouda dating to c.1740, in which the main historic rooms are used for the display of drawings and to house our extensive art-historical library. Gouda is a historic town very centrally located in The Netherlands between The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht, and is home to the largest drawings in the world, the 16th-century cartoons for the stained glass windows in the Church of Sint Jan.