REMBRANDT HARMENSZ VAN RIJN
1606 Leiden - Amsterdam 1669
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A Beggar Seated on a Bank (Self-Portrait) 1630
etching; 117 x 70 mm (4 ⅝ x 2 ¾ inches)
Bartsch 174, White/Boon only state; Hind 11; The New Hollstein 50 first state (of two)
Josef V. Novák, Prague (Lugt 1949);
his sale, H.G. Gutekunst, Stuttgart, May 16–20, 1904, lot 1117, sold for 55 Marks
Friedrich Quiring, Eberswalde (Lugt 1041c)
Richard Zinser, Forest Hills, N.Y. (stamped, not in Lugt)
A superb impression of the first state; Erik Hinterding and Jaco Rutgers, the authors of The New Hollstein, describe early impressions as showing “rough, uneven plate edges” while, still in the first state, “in later impressions two horizontal scratches appear over the man’s right foot.” One can also observe considerable wear in the upper-left edge and in the deep shadows behind the back of the seated man in later impressions of the first state. This impression shows neither the wear nor the scratches. Rembrandt also left a thin layer of ink on the wiped plate, creating a subtle plate-tone that helps to define the composition even in areas without any etched lines. The ink also shows the fine scratches left from polishing the plate; the latter usual disappear in the course of successive stages of the printing process.
The sheet survives in impeccable, untreated condition with narrow margins all round.
Rembrandt produced numerous small plates showing beggars and street people during his Leiden period between ca. 1629 to 1630, partly inspired by the famous series of 25 images of beggars by the Lorraine etcher Jacques Callot. The Beggar Seated on a Bank in his ragged cloak, with his untamed hair and beard and hand open for alms, is especially remarkable since he has the unmistakable features of the artist himself. Indeed, the beggar’s expression is especially similar to that in one of Rembrandt’s small vivid etchings of the same year, Self-Portrait Open Mouthed, as if Shouting (Bartsch 13). However, as Clifford Ackley suggests, “this extraordinary bit of roleplaying need not necessarily be taken as signifying a Christ-like identification on Rembrandt’s part with the beggar’s lot, but should perhaps be viewed—Rembrandt had a robust sense of visual humor—as a good, if inside, joke. The twenty-four-year-old artist was not yet fully established and could use some financial assistance!” (cat. Boston/Chicago, p. 91).
Christ Preaching (“La Petite Tombe”) ca. 1657
etching, engraving, and drypoint on tissue-thin chine; 156 x 207 mm (6 ⅛ x 8 ⅛ inches)
Bartsch 67, White/Boon only state; Hind 256; New Hollstein 298 first state (of two)
Erik Hinterding, Ger Luijten, and Martin Royalton-Kisch (eds.), Rembrandt the Printmaker, exhibition catalogue, Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam/British Museum, London, 2000–01, no. 68
Clifford S. Ackley et al. (eds.), Rembrandt’s Journey: Painter, Draftsman, Etcher, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Art Institute of Chicago, 2003–04, nos. 136f.
A fine impression in excellent condition; trimmed on or just outside the platemark all round.
In this print Rembrandt revisits the theme of his magnum opus, the so-called Hundred Guilder Print of ca. 1648 (Bartsch 74). This smaller, condensed version is one of the artist’s most balanced compositions. It has a classical serenity that has led scholars to point to the influence of Raphael’s Vatican fresco of Parnassus. Martin Royalton-Kisch notes that in 1652 Rembrandt sketched a version of Raphael’s work, well-known at the time through reproductive prints, in the album amicorum of his friend Jan Six. After establishing the overall scheme with a straightforward combination of horizontal and vertical elements, the artist enriched the details and atmospheric effects by going over the etched plate with a drypoint needle, thereby creating a lively “dialogue between clean etched lines and velvety drypoint lines fringed with rich burr” (Clifford Ackley in cat. Boston/Chicago, p. 208).
The Petite Tombe has traditionally been dated to ca. 1652. Based on his watermark research Erik Hinterding now proposes an execution date of ca. 1657 (cf. The New Hollstein: Rembrandt. Text, vol. 2, p. 270). Its somewhat confusing title was introduced by Gersaint in 1751 and later misunderstood as making reference to the “little tomb” on which Christ supposedly stands. In fact, this title refers back to Clement de Jonghe’s inventory where it is listed as “Latombisch plaatjen” (La Tombe’s little plate), a reference to Nicholas La Tombe who might have commissioned the work. Members of the La Tombe family are noted in documents relating to Rembrandt dating to between 1650 and 1658 (cf. Martin Royalton-Kisch in cat. Amsterdam/London, pp. 280f., no. 68 and Clifford Ackley in cat. Boston, p. 208, note 6).
A note on the paper :
Rembrandt was keenly interested in the effects created by printing on different surfaces. In addition to European paper and vellum he also experimented with so-called “oriental papers.” The earliest known reference to exotic, non-European papers dates from a letter by the English traveler Edward Brown (1644–1708) of September 5, 1668, in which he described some prints by Rembrandt “upon Indian paper.” However, this is only a vague term referring generally to papers “from the Indies” or “imported from the Dutch East India Company.” Gampi, a highly prized Japanese paper that is fairly thick and has a delicate sheen and ivory color, is one of the papers Rembrandt used that has a most clearly established origin. The often tissue-thin grayish-white Chinese paper (traditionally referred to in the literature by its French name chine) used in this impression of the print does not have the luster of the Japanese gampi paper but it was nevertheless prized for its softness and delicacy. It takes the ink clearly and precisely, printing the lines sharply and with good relief. Its softness also meant that it caused less wear to the delicate burr. This must undoubtedly be one reason that the artist often used it for his later prints, the Petite Tombe among them. In their most successful impressions these prints depended on the accents created by the extensive use of the drypoint needle. For the Petite Tombe Rembrandt appears to have employed various different surfaces: The New Hollstein lists 15 impressions on Japan, two on chine, and even one on vellum. (A good overview of the subject of oriental papers can be found in: Jacobus van Breda, “Rembrandt Etchings on Oriental Papers: Papers in the Collection of the National Gallery of Victoria,” in: Art Bulletin of Victoria, vol. 38, 1997, pp. 25–38.)
The Angel Departing from the Family of Tobias 1641
etching and drypoint; 104 x 155 mm (4 116 x 6 116 inches)
Bartsch 43, White/Boon second state (of four); Hind 185; The New Hollstein 189 second state (of nine)
Strasbourg lily with initials pr (Hinterding variant E’.a.a, vol. 2, p. 211; vol. 3, p. 454 ill.)
Karl Ferdinand Friedrich von Nagler, Berlin (Lugt 2529)
Kupferstich-Sammlung der königlichen Museen, Berlin (Lugt 1606 and with their duplicate
stamp Lugt 234)
collector’s stamp “F” (not in Lugt)
C.G. Boerner, Düsseldorf
private collection, Germany
A fine impression, with good contrasts and burr on the patches of drypoint work; the top left corner made-up; otherwise in very good condition with thread margins all round.
This scene from the Book of Tobit (chapter 12) shows an event soon after Tobias’s homecoming with his new wife Sara and a travelling companion. Tobias’s little dog, seen at the center of the main figure group, has rushed ahead to alert the blind Tobit to his son’s imminent arrival. Rembrandt’s earlier pen drawing of Tobias Healing his Father’s Blindness (now in Cleveland; Benesch 547) shows Tobias restoring his father’s sight with the magic fish gall procured on the instruction of the mysterious companion during the journey. Tobit and his son thank the man for his help by offering him half the riches Tobias has brought with him (at the far right we see an open trunk brimming with treasure as well as a donkey driver leaning back against his animal, a reference to the recent journey of the newlyweds and to the goods that Sara’s father Raguel has given them). At this point, the man reveals that he is the angel Raphael sent by God both to remove a curse on Sara that killed her first seven husbands on the wedding night and to cure Tobit of his blindness. Raphael then levitates to the heavens through swirling clouds in a shaft of light, leaving in his wake a lasting impression of the soles of his solidly human-looking feet.
The Circumcision in the Stable 1654
etching; 95 x 145 mm (3 ¾ x 5 1116 inches)
Bartsch 47, White/Boon first state (of two); Hind 274; The New Hollstein 280 third state (of five)
countermark fd (Hinterding variant FD’.a: vol. 2, p. 76; vol. 3. p. 126 ill.)
collector’s mark: ? and K (not in Lugt)
Domgalerie Schmidt, Cologne
C.G. Boerner, Düsseldorf (our stock no. in pencil on the verso 4737)
private collection, Germany (acquired in March 1961)
A very good impression of the third state, printing with a subtle plate-tone; the grain blemishes in the background burnished out but before the reworking of the unetched areas below the signature at upper left and just right of the center along the upper edge of the plate; in fine condition; trimmed to the plate-mark all round.
The iconography here is especially unusual: the circumcision of Christ is usually depicted as occurring in the Temple, not in a stable. Indeed, Rembrandt himself had not only represented the subject in the Temple in both the 1626 and 1630 etchings (White/Boon S398 and Bartsch 48) but also in a drawing (Benesch 574) and in a lost painting made for Stadtholder Frederik Hendrik of Orange in 1646. Mary and Joseph were both present in these works. But the stable allowed Rembrandt and other artists to show Mary at the ceremony without violating the Jewish law forbidding mothers to enter the temple until 33 days after the circumcision of a male child (which must take place when he is eight days old). The stable is also a more suitable location for Rembrandt’s interest in representing the human aspects of the story of Christ’s childhood in this series. Here the family is shown jumbled together on the stable floor and the infant sits peacefully in his father’s lap during the operation (in notable contrast to the howling little creature depicted in the 1630 etching). Mary sits next to them in prayerful meditation.
This is one of a series of six etchings, all similar in style and horizontal format, made by Rembrandt in 1654 and showing scenes from the early life of Christ. What makes this particular print exceptional, as Martin Royalton-Kisch observes, is the area of dark shadow down the right side of the print which is “reminiscent of the dramatic chiaroscuro of the drypoint of the Three Crosses of the preceding year” (cat. Amsterdam/London, pp. 304f., no. 74). This dark area of the print appears like a shadowy scrim through which the characters in the scene remain largely visible. The ladder, resting against a post at the left of the scene, echoes the diagonal lines of this dark area and also serves as an allusion to the Descent from the Cross.
The Adoration of the Shepherds with the Lamp 1654 etching; 106 x 130 mm (4 1/8 x 5 1/8 inches)
Bartsch 45, White/Boon first state (of two); Hind 273; The New Hollstein 279 second state (of three)
Saskia with Pearls in Her Hair 1634
etching, 87 x 66 mm (3 7/16 x 2 5/8 inches)
Bartsch 347, White/Boon only state; Hind 112; The New Hollstein 136 first state (of two)
private collection, Germany
This is one of many portraits that Rembrandt made of his wife, Saskia Uylenburgh (the artist was active in the workshop of her cousin Hendrick Uylenburgh at the time they met), often portraying her in a variety of fantasy guises, including biblical heroines and classical goddesses. The etching here, however, is a small, intimate portrait, made in the year of their marriage, in which Rembrandt used the etching needle to create a delicate, closely observed image of his new wife—fleshy chin, somewhat unruly hairstyle, and all. At the same time, specific details establish Saskia’s social status: in addition to the pearls in her hair, she wears pearl earrings and a double-stranded pearl necklace as well as an elegant dress with a split bodice and dramatic puffed sleeves. As Thomas Rassieur notes, “out of Rembrandt’s tangle of lines and dots, Saskia emerges, every inch the prosperous Amsterdam bride” (cat. Boston/Chicago, p. 126).
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ANONYMOUS (after REMBRANDT)
Rembrandt’s Mother 1630s
etching; 150 x 116 mm (5 ⅞ x 4 9/16 inches)
Bartsch 344; White/Boon 343 copy 3 (=Bartsch 344) and p. 183 (early unknown pupil); Hind 91 (probably not by Rembrandt);The New Hollstein 91a, first state of three (copy by an artist from Rembrandt’s workshop); The New Hollstein: Rembrandt Copies, vol. 1, p. 110 ill.
P. & D. Colnaghi & Co, London (their stock number in pencil on the verso C 76829)
Brilliant impression with margins all round.
The model for this copy was Rembrandt’s hugely successful etched portrait of his mother, Neeltgen Willemsdr. van Zuytbroeck (ca. 1568–1640), from ca. 1631. Rembrandt’s etching was reprinted five times in the 1630s, and four times in later decades (Hinterding, Lugt Collection, vol. 1, p. 581). The New Hollstein lists five copies after it, providing further evidence of the image’s popularity.
The copy offered here is the most famous one. In addition to the fact that it is printed in reverse from Rembrandt’s original, the image reveals numerous alterations, including the extra layer to the headdress across the forehead, the fuller ruffled collar, and the almost static expression of the sitter. This might be why Bartsch listed it as an original work by Rembrandt and why it has been debated in the literature for centuries. Some scholars argued, like Bartsch, that the print was by the master himself and others attributed it to artists like Ferdinand Bol and Karel van der Pluym. It is currently considered to be an anonymous copy. What remains most distinctive about this print, however, is its maker’s unusually unsophisticated use of the etching needle as he created a random mesh of lines that appears almost to fossilize its subject’s physiognomy and form. By contrast, Rembrandt had used the same tools with extraordinary mastery to enliven and refine his description of his mother.