Together with Cornelis Troost and Jan van Huysum, Jacob de Wit was Holland’s most important artist in the first half of the eighteenth century, and, without doubt, also one of the most prolific. Besides the many wall and ceiling decorations produced for Amsterdam’s grandest canal houses, the artist made an impressive number of drawings; his estate sale alone included some 2500-3000 sheets (see R.-J. te Rijdt, in Kabinet der heerlijkste tekenwerken. Achttiende-eeuwse Nederlandse tekeningen uit de verzameling van de Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van Belgi?, exhib. cat., Brussels, Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van Belgi?, 2019, p. 64).
This hitherto unpublished sheet, previously attributed to the French artist Jacques-Philippe Caresme, ranks among the finest, most ambitious and monumental drawings by De Wit known to have survived. Drawn in the artist’s characteristic style, it depicts an allegory of Autumn, with the fruits of harvest being presented to goddesses at the center of the dynamic composition. The drawing may have been part of a series of four depicting the seasons, either intended as works of art in their own right or as designs for larger paintings. Despite De Wit’s large artistic output, drawings as exceptionally large and elaborate as this one are of great rarity. Two sheets of similar finish, but of considerably smaller size, showing Jupiter and Callisto and Jupiter and Mnemosyne, dated 1733, were sold at Christie’s, London, 9 July 2002, lots 66 and 67.