Red chalk over black chalk; framing lines in pen and brown ink
Support: Japanese paper laid down on cream(3) laid paper, with fragments of tertiary and quaternary supports of beige(1) laid paper
Sheet: 18.4 x 23.4 cm (7 1/4 x 9 3/16 in.); Secondary Support: 18.4 x 23.4 cm (7 1/4 x 9 3/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1966.239
Considered mere nuisances for those living in close proximity to animals, fleas would only become known as carriers of such illnesses as the bubonic plague almost 200 years after this drawing was made.
Born into a prominent family of Dutch marine painters, Adriaen van de Velde was admired as a landscape painter. He specialized in atmospheric pastoral scenes that feature livestock and rustic figures drawn from life. This intimate study of a shepherdess searching for fleas exemplifies the artist’s skilled use of red chalk to capture the effects of light and shade.
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