Matham’s drawings have been relatively little studied. He seems to have worked in a variety of styles, drawing mainly in pen and ink but also, on occasion, making use of a combination of black and red chalks. While this was a common technique in Italy, it was rare in German and Netherlandish draughtsmanship at the time, and Matham was one of the few artists to take up the practice. The present sheet may be compared stylistically with Matham’s earliest known drawing, a study in red and black chalk of A Sculptor in His Workshop (also known as Pygmalion and the Statue of Galatea), signed and dated 1595, which was formerly in the Ploos van Amstel and De Grez collections and is now in the Musée Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique in Brussels. Another stylistically related drawing of Danae, also in red and black chalk, was recently on the art market in Amsterdam.
Matham was inspired by, and made frequent copies of, the work of Italian artists of the earlier 16th century, and he seems to have been drawn in particular to the work of the Mannerist painters. During his long stay in Rome, between 1595 and 1597, Matham produced a number of reproductive engravings after the work of Mannerist painters active in the city, notably Francesco Salviati, Taddeo and Federico Zuccaro, and Cavaliere d’Arpino. While the present sheet is too free to be a copy of an earlier work, the distinct influence of the work of such Roman painters is clearly evident.
Dr. Léna Widerkehr has kindly confirmed the attribution of this drawing to Jacob Matham, and further notes that it is among the earliest known drawings by the artist. She shall include the sheet in her forthcoming catalogue of Matham’s drawings.