Willem Romeyn (c.1624–c.1695)

Willem Romeyn (c.1624–c.1695)

Willem Romeyn (Haarlem c. 1624 – c. 1695 Haarlem)

Study of a Donkey

Black chalk, grey wash, 120 x 145 mm (4.7 x 5.7 inch)

- Charles Sackville Bale (1791–1880), London (Lugt 640);
- His sale, Christie’s, London, 9 June 1881, lot 2330 (‘K. du Jardin. Three Studies of Donkeys’), £ 2.15.0 to Philpot;
- Robert George Windsor-Clive, 1st Earl of Plymouth (1857–1923);
- By descent to his widow, Alberta Victoria Sarah Caroline, Countess of Plymouth (1863-1944);
- Sotheby's, London, 25 October 1944 (‘The late Earl of Plymouth' [consigned by Lt.-Col. W.G. Dugdale, M.C.), lot 5 (‘Karel du Jardin. Studies of three Donkeys, brush drawings. From the C. Sackville Bale Collection.’)
- Anon. sale, Christie’s, Amsterdam, 18 November 1985, lot 78, plate 34;
- Private collection, Germany


Willem Romeyn (or Romeijn) was taught by Nicolaes Berchem in Haarlem around 1642, and became a master in the Guild of St Luke in this city in 1644. Like his master, Romeyn specialised in Italianate landscapes. Although Berchem never actually visited Italy, Romeyn departed for Rome in 1650, where he was known as Guglielmo Romano. Having returned at the end of 1651, his first son Johannes was born in Haarlem in August 1652. Romeyn remained in Haarlem for the rest of his life, drawing on the impressions he had gathered during his sojourn in Rome, and drawings ‘naer ’t leven’ (from life), which he made there.1

Romeyn’s earliest dated drawing is of 1655, after his return from Rome, but the majority of his dated drawings, around twenty sheets, are from the last years of his life, 1692-95. These signed and dated drawings are highly finished works and were intended for specialised collectors of drawings. Romeyn’s study drawings are generally not signed, as they were not intended to be sold but remained part of his studio repository of source material. In fact animals and buildings from these studies were frequently employed by Romeyn for his finished drawings for collectors.

This scenario also applies for the present carefully observed study of a donkey. Although it is not clear whether it was made during his Roman period or in Haarlem, it was certainly made from life, and was used right at the end of his life in 1693 in a finished drawing, now in a private collection, Amsterdam (see last figs.).2


1. The best account of Romeyn as a draftsman is given by Peter Schatborn, Tekenen van warmte, 17de eeuwse Nederlandse tekenaars in Italië, exh. cat. Amsterdam (Rijksmuseum), 2001, pp. 147-51. See also Eckhart Knab, ‘Willem Romeijn: “Een gesicht van Tivoli naer Romen”, Master Drawings, 2 (1964), pp. 163-168.

2. Black chalk, grey wash, 320 x 202 mm; signed and dated W. Romeyn 1693; collection of the heirs of Prof. I.Q. van Regteren Altena, on deposit at the Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam. See Ingrid Oud, Michiel Jonker and Marijn Schapelhouman, In de ban van Italië. Tekeningen uit een Amsterdamse verzameling, exh. cat. Amsterdam (Historisch Museum) 1995, no. 25, repr. 

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Willem Romeyn (c.1624–c.1695)
Willem Romeyn (c.1624–c.1695)
Willem Romeyn (c.1624–c.1695)
Willem Romeyn (c.1624–c.1695)
Willem Romeyn (c.1624–c.1695)
Willem Romeyn (c.1624–c.1695)
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