Collection in Focus: Hendrick Goltzius

Hendrick Goltzius was one of the greatest Dutch printmakers and draftsmen of the sixteenth century. Our Annette and Oscar de la Renta Assistant Curator of Drawings and Prints Austeja Mackelaite describes his work in detail.

Goltzius's virtuosity with the pen is spectacularly demonstrated by this showpiece, made when the artist's eyesight was already deteriorating. This life-size fantasy portrait is the magnificent finale to his series of pen-and-ink drawings in the style of engravings. The Latin inscription Quis evadet? / Nemo (Who escapes? / No one) and the symbols of the hourglass, skull, and tulip serve as reminders of the transience of existence. Although the distinctive face was probably based on an actual person, the purpose of the drawing seems to have been to impart the foreboding message rather than to capture the youth's likeness.