In Britain, and France wall-coverings with painted landscapes were uncommon. In German speaking areas ( Germany, Switzerland and Austria) and in nearby Belgium this type of wall- covering only came into use in the first quarter of the eighteenth century. The long tradition and its use throughout Holland as well as the quality of the paintings makes this phenomen of Dutch wall coverings quite exceptional in the history of European decorating.

This paintings were fashionable in reception rooms and especially in the main hall of the Dutch houses The paintings were generally used above a wainscoating, often divided into several framed compartments. In the case of paintings designed for above doors or chimney-pieces, scenes other than landscapes were chosen. This is simply, because, if the artist had tried to be true to nature, he would only have been able to depict clouds or perhaps the top of a tree or a mountain, which would not have been desirable. Therefore subjects with practically no depth were preferred in these places., like a flower piece, a still life or perhaps a painted sculptured relief, the so called ‘grisaille’ In the Netherlands the latter was also names ‘Witjes’ after the great master in this style, Jacob de Wit. Typical subjects for these  monochrome paintings, for example the allegorising putti, were also painted in bright colours, not only by De Wit, but also by his followers. In spite of the popularity of the earlier grisaille throughout the eighteenth century, a variation of this style appeared around 1780 as the result of a renewed interest in the Antique. These images, still imitations of reliefs, were now placed agains a dark, often a black background, some of the best Dutch artists of the time took over this new fashion, such as Jurriaan Andreissen or Johannes van Dreght in Amsterdam, Dirk van der Aa in The Hague and Abraham van Strij in Dordrecht.

Text compilation:  Dr. Richard Harmanni.)


The origin of our desire to visually communicate our observations of the world that we inhabit, and to render using line and tone our shared experience and the flights of our imagination, has been lost in time. But the primordial urgo to draw – manifest on the walls of caves, in Egyptian papyri and on pottery from the ancient world – would, no later than the early Renaissance, come to be regarded as the foundation of all Western art.

The use of drawing as a tool- to train and exercise the eye and hand, to study nature and the human body, and to facilitate the invention of expressive and dynamic compositions – endows the medium with an unselfconscious intimacy that accounts, in part, for the extraordinary appeal of sketches and studies of all kinds and every period. There is no other medium in which the eye, hand, and imagination of the artist are so inextricably linked, and arguably no more immediate refections of artistic genius. These attributes of drawings would eventually lead to such widespread admiration for original works on paper that, from the 17th and 18th centuries onward, many were conceived as independant works of art, intended from the outset for the delectation of collectors.

The variety of artists’drawings is astonishing.