Hendrik Goltzius - Lumpfish (1589)


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This fish is described as a cruyck vis here, but we are more familiar with the name lumpfish. Another name for it is lumpsucker, which refers to the pelvic fins that evolved into suction pads, used by the fish to anchor itself to the sea bed. The fish can be found in the Netherlands when they come to spawn in shallow water; during this season, the males are red, which means that it is very probable that Goltzius used one that had been washed ashore as a model for this drawing; the three colours of chalk work extremely well in this execution. The artist has paid much attention to the reproduction of the skin: the chalk has been moistened here and there.

The artist also immortalised a few other animals on paper, but this is the only drawing he dated by its year. In this period, driven by a curiosity for unusual natural phenomena, it was all the rage to document and collect naturalia. People collected rare animals, plants and shells but also drawings and prints of them, along with artefacts and paintings, which they displayed in rooms or cabinets specially furnished or built for that purpose.

This drawing was studied for the AGORA Drawings on Web project.


Bibliographic description

Materials, technique and dimensions: black, red and white chalk, lightly washed, 230 x 310 mm

Inventory number: S.V 62409

Full description



Possibly Cornelis Cornelisz., Haarlem (inventory 1639, n° 123:  ‘Een vis van Mr. Hendrick Goltzius, rein gedaen’); H. de Kat; his sale, Rotterdam, 4 March 1867, lot 133; Vis Blokhuysen, Rotterdam; W.C.P. Baron van Reede van Oudshoorn; his sale, Amsterdam 27 October 1874, lot 250; A.G. de Visser; his sale, Amsterdam 16-18 May 1881, lot 149 (f 60 to Gellert); Adalbert von Lanna (1836-1909), Prague; his sale, Stuttgart, 6-11 May 1910, lot 276 (M 95 to Meder); R.H. Zinser, New York; acquired in 1954


Selective bibliography

E.K.J. Reznicek, Die Zeichnungen von Hendrick Goltzius, 2 vols., Utrecht 1961, cat. K 418; E.K.J. Reznicek, ‘Die Darstellung von Tieren in der nierderländischen Kunst des 16. Jahrhunderts und ihre Symbolik’, in: Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien, 82-83 (1986-1987), pp. 160-161, fig. 173; H. Leeflang, G. Luijten, L.W. Nichols, Hendrick Goltzius: tekeningen, prenten en schilderijen, Amsterdam (Rijksmuseum), New York (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) & Toledo, Ohio (Toledo Museum of Art) 2003-2004, pp. 169-170, fig. 68



Hendrick Goltzius als tekenaar, Rotterdam (Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen) & Haarlem (Teylers Museum) 1958, cat. 97; Bestiaire hollandais. Exposition de tableaux, aquarelles, dessins et gravures par des artistes hollandais des XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles et d’un choix de livres de la même période, Paris (Institut néerlandais) 1960, cat. 95; Le cabinet des estampes. Trente années d'acquisitions, 1930-1960, Bruxelles (Bibliothèque royale de Belgique) 1961, cat. 86; Quinze années d'acquisitions de la pose de la première pierre à l’inauguration officielle de la Bibliothèque, Bruxelles (Bibliothèque royale Albert I) 1969, cat. 250; Dawn of the Golden Age. Northern Netherlandish art 1580-1620, Amsterdam (Rijksmuseum) 1993-1994, cat. 19; Op weg naar de Gouden Eeuw. Hendrick Goltzius & Jacques de Gheyn II, Venlo (Limburgs Museum) 2009-2010 (without publication)