galeriemichael.com—REMBRANDT—A Collection of Fine Etchings
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REMBRANDT— THE MASTER OF PAINTINGS AND PRINTS
The very name “Rembrandt” evokes near-reverent thoughts and emotions. Whether his Night Watch (“NachtWacht”) masterpiece displayed in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, or his amazing prints, like the Christ Healing the Sick (“The Hundred Guilder Print”), Prodigal Son or the Descent from the Cross , it is apparent to everyone that Rembrandt not only captured the events in a scene, but he also captured the emotions and meaning behind the scene. Whi le contemporar ies were content merely to descr ibe the appearance of people and things, Rembrandt indefatigably pursued the investigation of inner feel ing, the most subtle movements of the human soul . His def t touch impacted everyone and set him apart from al l others, then and now. His abi l i ty to animate two-dimensional images brought a l i fe- force energy forward. He created scenes wi th which anyone—r ich or poor, educated or uneducated, exper ienced or inexper ienced, trained or untrained—could instant ly relate. Communicat ion is a process where someone puts forward an expression and another receives the message. When a person views a Rembrandt , they can put themselves into the image and receive what Rembrandt was communicat ing. The longer they look, the deeper the communicat ion. The viewer was, and is, an integral part of his art as he set up a narrat ive interplay. His artistry went far beyond the academic rules and traditions. His art was as pleasurable in the 1600s as in the 2000s, and i t is equal ly relevant . A cr i t ical element was the sheer diversi ty of the themes he explored that ul t imately ref lected humankind’s texture and complexi ty. Among those themes were: portrai ts and sel f-portrai ts, landscapes, beggars and peasants, the Bible, Jews, fast sketches and night pieces. He was not only good at each of these, he was amazing and he forever changed the history of art . He is to this day the standard by which great artists can be measured for both paintings and etchings. In the early 17th century, a plethora of painters l ived and worked in Hol land, mainly due to the desire of the Dutch to expend disposable cash, which was gained through the explo- sion of commerce and therefore wealth that resulted from the “Dutch Golden Age”. As the supply of art grew so quickly, artists sought protection from the effects of fal l ing prices as the supply side. So they created an art cartel, of sorts.
In Dutch “schilders” could refer equally to house painters as to artists, and they, together formed col lect ive “clear ing-houses” in var ious ci t ies to control supply and demand. These “gui lds” set rules that had to be fol lowed in order to be al lowed to sel l art . The Gui ld control led the paint ing marketplace in terms of what could be sold and by whom. But they did not oversee etchings, so Rembrandt found great freedom in that medium. Rembrandt then set the bar so high that even to this day, no one has been able to match his etching ski l ls. Whether working wi th oi ls or copper etching plates, what truly set him apart was his abi l i ty to show emot ions in ways that viewers centur ies later could relate —on a fundamental , human level . No one pr ior to, or since, has been able to reach such a deep level of empathy and com- passion towards the representat ion of humani ty. Rembrandt showed that he abandoned a l l academi c s t y l es i n gi v i ng us a more rea l i s t i c and s impl e approach to the human f igure, which he depicted wi th a new f igurat ive language, an eye for the detai l and pure art ist ic and technical genius in the etching techniques. He gave, and st i l l gives, people the opportuni ty to exper ience the subjects in a pr ivate and int imate way, shar ing the same feel ings of those represented in the stor ies. The subjects become much more than simple images as everyone can recognize the events and feel ings of everyday l i fe as a mi rror of al l humani ty. The emot ions depicted are human emot ions that are not transi tory, nor speci f ic to a cer- tain country, race, ethnici ty or social status. They are human. They were not unique to the 17th century because they are fundamental trai ts of being human. They can place themselves into the narrat ive as act ive part icipants as they wi tness history not through sent imental ized scenes l ike so many of Rembrandt ’s predecessors and contemporar ies created, but through simple, raw emot ions. Truth.
REMBRANDT’S NUDES During his career, Rembrandt rarely depicted the female nude.
Examples of etchings depicting women in various states of undress were largely clumped together at both the beginning and ending of his career, and include four that are now offered by Galerie Michael:
• Diana at the Bath, 1631 • Naked Woman Seated on a Mound, 1631 • Jupiter and Antiope: The Smaller Plate, 1631 • Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife, 1634 • Adam and Eve, 1638 • Woman Sitting Half-Dressed Beside a Stove, 1658
• Seated Naked Woman with a Hat Beside Her (Woman at the Bath), 1658 • Seated Naked Woman (Woman Bathing her Feet at a Brook), 1658 • Negress Lying Down, 1658 • Jupiter and Antiope: The Larger Plate, 1659 • The Woman with the Arrow (Venus and Cupid?), 1661
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) Seated Naked Woman (‘Woman Bathing Her Feet at a Brook’), 1658 Etching and drypoint on paper Signed and dated in the plate, “Rembrandt | f. 1658” Possibly late 18th/probable early 19th century impression. A strong but later impression of White and Boon’s only state, with the re-work. With margins. Provenance: Walter Pach (1883-1958), New York; By descent to the previous owners; Private Collection, United Kingdom B. 200; H. 298; BB. 58-D; New Hollstein 309 6 3⁄4 x 3 1⁄2 in. (17.3 x 9.1 cm) 200911363
This is another example of Rembrandt creating an etching from a live model in his studio, then adding a scene to finish his work. In this case, the model was sitting on a cushioned chair or bench. The foliage and stream were subsequently added. She shyly turns her head away from the viewer—and the light, meaning that her face is cast in a heavy shadow.
The darkness of the surroundings, combined with the very sparing use of lines, allows her body to be highly illuminated, with the bright light revealing her body.
Frame for sample purposes only *
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) Diana at the Bath, 1631
Etching with burin on paper Signed in monogram in the plate lower right, “RHL.f.” A probable 17th/possible 18th century impression of White and Boon’s only state. New Hollstein’s only state. A preparatory drawing for this work in black chalk and brown wash is in the
British Museum, London (Benesch 21). B. 201; H. 42; BB. 31-4; New Hollstein 89 6 7/8 x 5 1⁄2 in. (17.46 x 13.97 cm) Framed dimensions: 23 3⁄4 x 21 1⁄2 in. 201911636
Diana was the mythological Roman goddess of the hunt. She was the very essence of a woman—perfect in all respects. Artists through the ages rendered her in that classically romanticized beauty, always with a bow and a quiver full of arrows. When Rembrandt captured her, she was nothing like the established and collectively-agreed-on vision. He caught her as she was bathing at the edge of a river. She was startled by an apparent intruder as she looked over her shoulder to see who had arrived. Her physical body was that of a studio model Rembrandt used, and she was nothing like any previous Diana in that all of her imperfections were perfectly described. The only thing she had in common with the others was the quiver, and even that was mostly hidden by her clothing laying beside her. This etching dates from the very end of Rembrandt’s time in Leiden, just before he departed for Amsterdam. It belongs to his earliest group of etched nudes. Rembrandt’s truthful approach to his nude subjects is entirely characteristic of his art. It is indicative of his early style, while its chiaroscuro and sense of dramatic narrative make this etching one of the most ambitious of Rembrandt’s career. His later nudes became more idealized, though certainly still not to the critics standards. Rembrandt remained honest even as he tempered his penchant for being a little too honest.
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) Woman Sitting Half-Dressed Beside a Stove, 1658
Etching, engraving and drypoint on paper Signed and dated upper left in the plate (on flue), “Rembrandt f. 1658” An excellent impression with very fine margins. New Hollstein’s VI state of VII, before the final revisions but with the scratch still showing above the left breast. B. 197; H. 296; BB. 58-B; New Hollstein 307 9 x 7 1/4 in. (22.8 x 18.7 cm) Framed dimensions: 25 1⁄2 x 23 1⁄2 in. 197913949
Woman Sitting Half-Dressed Beside a Stove, 1658
This etching is perhaps Rembrandt’s finest print of a nude, and certainly embodies an unusual and touch- ing aspect of his treatment of this subject. This work simultaneously embraces a tender moment and a practical one of everyday Dutch life in the 17th century. This period in Rembrandt’s later life showcased his most delicate treatment of nudes, as opposed to the bolder and more dramatic versions he created in his younger life. While his other etchings in the 1650s of women in various stages of undress show them sleeping, or turned away from the viewer, this radiant image is intimate with the model’s face showing. Other artists instructed their models to pose as characters in famous historical or mythological scenes. Rembrandt, in contrast, chose to make a direct reproduction of the models in front of him. Rembrandt strongly preferred his scenes to be placed in normal Dutch environments, as evidenced by the warming stove immediately nearby to keep his model comfortable. This diminutive etching, though large as an etching, can be compared to the large (nearly five feet square) oil of Bathsheba at her Bath, now housed in the Louvre. Both Bathsheba and this model are shown in profile, looking down without expression, thereby showcasing their seriousness and depth.
Additional impressions can be found in the following museum collections: • Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; • Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; • The Morgan Library and Museum, New York; • National Gallery, Washington D.C.
REMBRANDT’S PORTRAITS Rembrandt began painting portraits when he was just a teenager, gradually developing the style that became his trademark throughout his career. As his style progressed, so did his use of self-portraiture, likely to allow him to hone his skills without having to pay for models. He featured scenes that captivated him from the Bible, but then branched out as he took on portraits of others. At the age of 20, he also began his long and profound journey into etching, beginning with Biblical scenes, but then moving back to works of his mother—and himself. Each of the artist’s surviving portraits captures the unique perspective of Rembrandt and his profound ability to capture reality—no matter how harsh. As seen in The Artist’s Mother with Her Hand on Her Chest: Small Bust (1631) his subjects existences are bitten into their features, into each twisted wrinkle and each dark hollow. The scurry and flutter of their youth, their extraordinary aspirations and generally ordinary achievements are all seen in the passions that have branded their faces. There is the middle-aged human being striving for social eminence, the solidity of having gained it and then the attainment of power in old age. All facets these people experienced, including Rembrandt himself, emerge into rich complex compositions of immaculate detail and emotional intensity. For thei r t ime, Rembrandt ’s por t rai ts were both highly revolut ionary and cont roversial . He completely ignored the academic standards of romanticizing the human form by hiding imperfections. He created art that reflected reality, and if that was unattractive, it was the truth. Rembrandt’s portraits have a life like no other and it is almost baffling that he was able to create the same life in etchings as in paintings. Some etchings were commissioned by high profi le and common folks al ike. Others were created solely for the artist. Many times these were prel iminary sketches for paintings soon to come. He often created works of himself, which allowed him to work on his technique free of charge. In this, Rembrandt was also unique. Early in his career, as he was still learning his craft, he sought out ways to show human emotion, as this was one of the very central pillars of his style. In order to test his representat ions, he used himsel f as the model , wi th di f ferent
expressions showing different emotions. By doing this, he was able to be revolutionary in his connecting viewers with his art, through the emotional palette common to humans around the world, irrespective of the century within which they lived. Fol lowing his death, Rembrandt’s portfol io was revealed to contain one of the most ex- tensive (probably the most extensive) col lection of self-portraits in the history of art. As exempl ified by Self-Portrait Drawing at a Window (1648), his depictions of his own image present a multifaceted portrait, ranging from fantasy role-playing to unsparing honesty. These self-etched prints show how intriguing his face was to himself, even from an early age. His work is unparal leled in many ways, but one way that is less often discussed is that his self-portraits represent an autobiography of an artist l ike no one else has ever done.
Today, scholars and viewers alike remain awed by the extent and quality of Rembrandt’s portraiture. He truly set the artistic bar so high that no one else has been able to reach it.
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) Jan Uytenbogaert, Preacher of the Remonstrants, 1635
Etching on paper Signed and dated in the plate, “Rembrandt 1635.”
An excellent lifetime impression of New Hollstein’s fourth state (of nine). In this state, the curtain in the upper right was darkened by horizontal shading. Irregular corners at the lower edges on both sides still present. Inscribed in the lower margin with a poem by Hugo de Groot (added in state III). B. 279; New Hollstein 153 8 3⁄4 x 7 1⁄4 in. (22.5 x 18.7 cm) 279914575
Frame for sample purposes only *
JAN UYTENBOGAERT, 1557-1644 Jan Uytenbogaer t was born in a Roman Cathol ic household and was educated at the School of St. Jerome in Utrecht. After his studies were complete, he separated from the Catholic religion and be- came a prominent member of a sect that split from the Dutch Reformed Church. The sect was often named after its founder Jacobus Arminius, meaning that adherents were called “Arminians”, though they referred to themselves as Remonstrants. Uytenbogaert wrote the group’s catechism. The disagreement with the Calvinists was mainly due to a sharp difference in views on predestination, which asserts that all events are known ahead of time by God. The counter argument asserts that peo- ple have free wills that can change the course of history, both on a personal and overarching level. During the early 17th century, there was a virtual theological war enveloping western Europe, with dire consequences for some who did not follow church edicts. In Hol land, Maurits was the Prince of Orange, in a position that amounted to Governor-General. Uytenbogaert had favor with the prince, even being the tutor to his younger brother, Frederick Henry, who was born in 1584. His level of prominence was evident as he became the nation’s Receiver- General, which meant that he was the nation’s chief tax col lector. After the death of Arminius in 1609, Uytenbogaert became the leader of the Remonstants, but a few years later, Maurits deemed the sect to be heretical and banned the group entirely, going so far as to ex- ecute one of the leaders, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt. Fearing for his own life, Uytenbogaert was forced into exile in 1618. With the death of Maurits of Orange in 1625, Frederick Henry became the Prince of Orange and a more tolerant attitude developed. Those in exile were permitted to return to Holland. They were allowed to hold their beliefs freely, but were not given permission to build churches. Church services were only to be held in people’s homes. The group survives to this day, with about 5,000 adherents in the Netherlands, and a small group in Germany. Uytenbogaert was a patron of the arts and became acquainted with Rembrandt, who was just starting his career. Apparently he did Rembrandt a favor by interceding on his behalf as the artist attempted to purchase a house in Amsterdam, but was strapped for cash as he was awaiting payment for paintings he completed for Prince Frederick Henry.
Jan Uytenbogaert, Preacher of the Remonstrants, 1635 Rembrandt’s portrait of Uytenbogaert was his first commissioned etching portrait of a non-fami ly member. At the time, Uytenbogaert was 78 years old. It is likely that the portrait was requested to allow Uytenbogaert to distribute copies to his friends, colleagues and followers, as the title itself specifically highlights the man as a preacher of a sect that was not in favor. One of the members of the Church, Abraham Anthonisz. Recht, a prominent merchant, commissioned Rembrandt to complete an oil painting of Uytenbogaert (alternate spelling “Wtenbogaert”) in 1633. Certainly there was a sitting for the oil, but it is extremely unlikely that there was one for the etching, as the two renderings are nearly identical. Uytenbogaert was no scholar, but he was a leader of great prominence, and very learned. In the etching, he sits with a book in hand, whereas in the painting, the book rests behind him. The level of skill required to etch the collar, the fur and the specific facial features is remarkable.
Jan Uytenbogaert, Preacher of the Remonstrants, began as a rectangular plate. It was cut to an octagonal shape in the third state.
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) Jan Uytenbogaert, “The Goldweighter”, 1639
Etching and drypoint on paper Signed and dated in the plate, “Rembrandt f. 1639” A very good impression with strong contrasts. Biörklund’s fourth state (of 4). Usticke’s third state (of 3). White and Boon’s second state (of 2), with the Baillie rework. With small margins. This work marks one of Rembrandt’s first uses of drypoint, not as a corrective tool but as a supplement to an etching. Using etching and drypoint, he skillfully renders the varied textures of fur, metal, wood, paper and a myriad of other challenging materials. B. 281; H. 281; BB. 39-D 10 5/8 x 8 3⁄4 in. (27 x 22.3 cm) 281915231
Rembrandt’s second etching portrait of Uytenbo- gaert showed the man in his former career, at the height of his influence. He sits at a rug-adorned table with a large scale and a ledger book as he passes a satchel of gold to an assistant with his left hand, after recording the amount with his right hand. This shows Uytenbogaert to be honest in his dealings, as he not only passes the gold to another person, but also carefully records the numbers in plain sight of others. Showcasing Uytenbogaert’s religious devotion, there is a crucifixion painting hanging on the wall behind him. In fact, the scales may have had sec- ondary meaning in that the man’s life was a study
in weighing between the two options of the Dutch Reformed Church and prosperity on the one side and the Remonstants and exile on the other. Entering the room from the middle left of the scene is a couple carrying bags of gold to be weighed next. Most of the scene is darkened, with a light shining down on Uytenbogaert from the upper right. The assistant is illuminated indirectly from the light bouncing from Uytenbogaert. This is another very fine example of the skill Rem- brandt possessed in creating very complex etch- ings that required deft touches to achieve.
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) Lieven Willemsz. van Coppenol, Writing-Master: The Smaller Plate, 1658 Etching, engraving and drypoint on laid paper A fine late 17th/early 18th century impression. A beautiful impression of this very rare print. New Hollstein’s seventh and final state with small margins on all sides. Watermark Words (Hinterding A.c.) (Words A.c. watermark acknowledged in New Hollstein circa 1698). A drawing in pen and ink in the Museum of Fine Art, Budapest (Benesch 766) may be the preparatory sketch for this etching. B. 282; H. 269; BB. 58-I; New Hollstein 283
10 1/5 x 7 2/5 in. (25.9 x 18.8 cm) Framed dimensions: 24 7/8 x 21 in. 282913786
Lieven Willemsz. van Coppenol, Writing-Master: The Smaller Plate, 1658 Lieven Willemsz. van Coppenol was a friend of Rembrandt, who had the artist’s attention in 1658. In all, there was one preparatory ink-on-paper sketch, two etchings and an oil portrait—each done in 1658. The two etchings were different sizes—including this smaller one. Van Coppenol was a Mennonite who was the headmaster of Amsterdam’s French School, L’École Française, until he suffered a total mental collapse. After his recovery, he then applied himself fully to the pursuit of perfect calligraphy. Not a man of balance, he became obsessed both with his skills and his self-image, which became inexorably linked. He was his writing. He constantly sought famous admirers who would extol his skills. He would then commission portraits of himself, adding the words of praise he gathered in his own extremely skilled handwriting at the bottom.
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) Clement de Jonghe, Printseller, 1651
Etching, drypoint and burin on paper Signed and dated in the plate, “Rembrandt f 1651”
A fine, probable 19th century impression of White and Boon’s sixth and final state. Excellent print with margins. Nowell-Ustick VI of (IX). New Hollstein’s eighth state (of X); more shading has been added throughout, on his right shoulder, on his hair to the right below the brim of the hat and below the two points of the collar. A small spot of vertical shading has been added in the lower right corner. Clement de Jonghe was a well-known print seller and publisher in Amsterdam during the 17th century. B. 272; H. 251; BB. 51-C; New Hollstein 264 8 1⁄4 x 6 3/8 inches (21.1 x 16.5 cm) 272911000 CLEMENT DE JONGHE, 1624/25–1677 Clement de Jonghe, 1624/25–1677, was a highly-successful Amsterdam printseller, art dealer and pub- lisher. He also collected a great deal of art and was a good friend and colleague of Rembrandt. Eventually he came into possession of many of Rembrandt’s original copper plates, and like so many others who ac- quired similar ones, made new prints using them. The portrait gives the impression that this is a man with a mission, who has little time to spend posing for Rembrandt. He kept wearing his cloak, and even his hat and gloves. He sits as though he will be leaving in another moment or two. The man is looking the viewer directly in the eye, further showcasing just how focused he is. This was a man on the move.
The light source is just off the man’s left side, thereby providing rich shadows on the right side of his face and showing how heavy his cloak is.
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) Old Man with a Divided Fur Cap, 1640
Etching with drypoint on laid paper Signed and dated upper left in the plate, “Rembrandt f | 1640” (the “e” reversed and the “4” in both directions) New Hollstein’s I/II, White and Boon’s II/II before the reworkings in mezzotint. Even, clear and transparent impression with small margins. The fur cap is a Polish kutschma, a type of hat that occurs in several drawings by Rembrandt. It has been suggested that the sitter is Nicolaes de Bye. Provenance: A. Freiherr von Lanna (1836-1900) Collection, Prague, Lugt 2773; Private Collection, Germany B. 265; H. 265 II; Nowell-Usticke 265 II (of III); New Hollstein 182 6 x 5 5/8 in. (15.5 x 14.3 cm) 265913988
Frame for sample purposes only *
Old Man with a Divided Fur Cap, 1640
Between 1630 and 1640, Rembrandt etched several portraits of anonymous old men. Old Man with a Divided Fur Cap, 1640 remains one of the finest of that group. The imposing figure of the man is de- lineated by the strong triangular shape of his body and capped by a strong, elaborate hat, which is one element that points to the man’s well-to-do status. Other indicators include the large clasp on his chest, and the quality and heaviness of his cloak. His stature is further developed through his age. He has a full, white beard, which is cleverly shown by having very few curly lines, thereby allowing the background paper to show through. He has deep furrows on his forehead and bags beneath his eyes. His eyebrows are overgrown. His carriage is very dignified, and his eyes are clear and focused, as though he is looking at the future through a lens honed by his extensive past. As the 1630s drew to a close, Rembrandt adopted a simpler etching style with fewer bitings. Heavy cross-hatching is reserved for the hat and the cloak, in both cases leading to an emphasis of the dark in showcasing the man’s face.
This composition is timeless and fully maintains its relevance through the ages.
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) An Old Man Shading His Eyes with His Hand, c . 1639
Etching and drypoint on laid paper A very fine, delicate impression of New Hollstein’s first state of three. With narrow margins on three sides, trimmed on the platemark at left. In the first state, only the head and the left arm of the scholar is finished. His body and chair are very lightly sketched. Even early in the composition, Rembrandt commands the picture with extraordinary attention to detail, the textural accuracy for the fur cuff and cap is superb. The lines are few, yet definitive of the rest of the composition and proportion of the man. B. 207; New Hollstein 175. I 5 1⁄2 x 4 1⁄2 in. (14.1 x 11.5 cm) 207914655
Frame for sample purposes only *
An Old Man Shading His Eyes with His Hand, c . 1639
An Old Man Shading His Eyes with His Hand, c. 1639 is a very fine and delicate impression of New Hollstein’s first state of three. This print was never signed nor dated, but even early in the composition, Rembrandt commands the picture with extraordinary attention to detail, the textural accuracy for the fur cuff and cap is superb. The man is deep in thought, meaning that he is highly educated and is working on something of some significance. The lines on the remainder are few, yet definitive of the rest of the composition and proportion of the man.
REMBRANDT’S FAMILY PORTRAITS
Rembrandt Harmenszoon (“Harmen’s son”) van Ri jn was the eighth chi ld of Neel tgen Wi l lemsdochter (“Wi l lem’s daughter”) van Zuytbrouckand and Harmen Gerritszoon (“Ger- rit’s son”) van Rijn. There were nine children in total, though two died in infancy. While Rem- brandt’s parents were frequent models for the artist, they were not identified as such during the artist’s l ife. Indeed, it was only in 1679, a ful l decade after his death that the identity of his mother surfaced, when the estate of print dealer Clement de Jonghe was inventoried, and the notation “Rembrandt’s moeder” (Rembrandt’s mother) was found. There is even less evidence of his father’s identity, as the evidence is entirely indirect and circumstantial. Rembrandt created a number of paintings and etchings of his mother during the 1620s and 1630s. Some of his very first etchings were of his mother, beginning when he was about 22 years old and she was 59. The precise number of times he used her as a subject is unknown, because he never identified her, and there are cases where the model’s identity is shrouded. It is generally understood that there were at least six etching of his mother. Rembrandt’s freedom in expressing portrait features loosely is legendary, and can certainly be seen when contrasting his numerous self-portraits, some of which bear little resemblance to reality. This was also the case in creating works through the use of his parents. In Dutch, the word “tronie” commonly referred to a face, but in art meant that a person was given an exaggerated look for the purposes of conveying an artistic expression. Often, costumes (whether real or imagined) were used to augment the final outcome of the art. The intent was to present attributes not necessari ly present in the model, such as bravery, piety or wisdom. One of the most famous examples of a tronie was Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring . Rembrandt used tronies frequently in order to create the overal l environ- ment he was after. In Christ Before Pi late, he inserted three individuals as witnesses to the watershed moment in history—representing the three major races of humanity, Black, African and Caucasian. He used himself as the tronie for Caucasians.
Christ Before Pilate, 1640
REMBRANDT’S PARENTS The titles of the following four pieces were attributed to the work long after the death of Rembrandt, as he never identified either of his parents when using them as models. Still, there is little doubt that these are etchings of his aging mother. He shows her as being deep in thought, with a downward look in her eyes, while clutching her clothing on her chest. This is a woman whose youth is well behind her, who has lived a great deal in a relatively short time. Her son, Rembrandt’s brother Gerrit Harmensz. van Rijn died the year of this etching, and at least one of her other children, Machtelt Harmensz. van Rijn died six years earlier.
Despite the hard life, these are also a portrait of a caring, tender woman. She was tried, but not broken.
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) The Artist’s Mother with Her Hand on Her Chest: Small Bust, 1631
Etching on laid paper Signed in monogram and dated in the plate, “RL 1631”
Late 19th or early 20th century impression of White and Boon’s second state of two. Trimmed to the platemark. New Hollstein’s II state (of VI), in which the eyes have been retouched (shading over the eye lashes) and vertical lines added to the shadow on the right cheek. B. 349; H. 50; BB. 31-9; New Hollstein 87 3 1⁄2 x 2 5/8 in. (8.89 x 6.67 cm) Framed dimensions: 19 1⁄2 x 18 1⁄2 in. 349904884
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) The Artist’s Mother: Head Only, Full Face, 1628
Etching on laid paper Signed and dated in the plate, “RHL 1628”
A good 17th century impression of White and Boon’s second and final state. A scarce early print, with the hood printing considerably darker than the face, as usual. Rarely seen outside of a museum print room. Biörklund’s second and final state (after the reduction of the plate) and Usticke’s only state.
New Hollstein’s second and final state, in which the hood is completed and the monogram and date have been added. With no discernable evidence of a paper watermark. B. 352; H. 2; BB. 28-B; RR+; New Hollstein 6 2 5/8 x 2 5/8 in. (6.7 x 6.7 cm) Framed dimensions: 19 3⁄4 x 20 1⁄2 in. 352900547
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) Bald-Headed Man in Right Profile: Small Bust; The Artist’s Father (?), 1630
Bald-Headed Man in Right Profile: Small Bust; The Artist’s Father (?), 1630 depicts an elderly man in profile. The man’s whiskers run wild, extending from his face downward—heavy and long. The contemplative man featured in this composition is familiar to Rembrandt’s work from that period and is plausibly the artist’s father, although there is no direct evidence connecting the subject in these various portraits in oils and etchings of this man and Rembrandt’s father. On the other hand, there are many works that showcase what is accepted to be his mother. As another indirect indication that this was his father, there were a number of works of this person completed in 1630, which is the year Rembrandt’s father, Harmen Gerritsz. van Rijn died. Etching on laid paper Signed in monogram and dated in the plate, “RL 1630” A possible 17th century impression. New Hollstein’s second and final state with the plate edges evened out. White and Boon’s only state. A very rare impression - RRR. B. 294; H. 24; BB. 30-H; New Hollstein 61 2 1/8 x 1 5/8 in. (5.7 x 4.3 cm) 294913802
Frame for sample purposes only *
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) Bust of a Man Wearing a High Cap, Three-Quarters Right (The Artist’s Father?), 1630 Etching on laid paper A strong, possible 19th century Basan impression. White and Boon’s second and final state. New Hollstein’s IV/VI, after the plate was cut down and the edges evened out in the third state with the additional retouching just left of his right nostril. With narrow margins. B. 321; H. 22, BB. 30-F; New Hollstein 57 4 x 3 3/8 in. (10.3 x 8.7 cm) 321124150
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) Self Portrait in a Velvet Cap with Plume, 1638 Etching on laid paper Signed and dated in the plate Twentieth century impression, from the American edition of 299.
White & Boon’s only state. With margins. B. 20; H. 156; BB. 38-B; New Hollstein 170 5 1/4 x 4 in. (13.34 x 10.16 cm) Framed dimensions: 19 3⁄4 x 18 in. 020912161xt.11
This bust-length self-portrait shows some of Rembrandt’s skills in the etching medium. He creates a light source in the lower right, thereby creating shadowing on his right cheek and over his right shoulder. The very minimal amount of background cross-hatching creates depth of field. His gaze is directly at the viewer, and while one might expect his left eye to squint with the location of the light, it is his right eye that squints. His face is very serious, as can be seen by the furrowing of his brow and the tense position- ing of his mouth. His dress seems aristocratic, as does the tucking of his left arm into his coat, in a virtual Napoleonic pose, though the emperor had not yet been born at the time, much less conquered Holland.
This is a great example of Rembrandt being Rembrandt.
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) Self-Portrait with Cap Pulled Forward, c.1631 Etching with touches of drypoint on laid paper A later 17th century impression of this rare self-portrait. White and Boon’s IV/VI state. New Hollstein’s IV state (of X), before the addition of the horizontal stroke under the lower lip. With small margins. Rarity Classification: RRR+ (Extremely rare self-portrait) B. 319; H. 58; BB. 31-10; New Hollstein 71 2 x 1 3/4 in. (5.08 x 4.45 cm) 319910167
Frame for sample purposes only *
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) Self-Portrait (?) with Plumed Cap and Lowered Sabre, 1634 Etching on paper Signed and dated in the plate, “Rembrandt f. 1634” A very good, well-inked impression of this scarce etching with strong contrasts.
Biörklund’s third state (of 3). Usticke’s fourth state (of 4). White and Boon’s and New Hollstein’s third state (of 3). Narrow to small margins. B. 23; H. 135 (III/III); BB 34-B 6 5/8 x 6 in. (17 x 15.5 cm) 023915230
This is a remarkable etching because while it is generally accepted that it is a self-portrait, there is no way to prove it. Rembrandt is nearly unrecognizable in his disguise as an oriental soldier. People have sought to identify the sitter for this portrait, but each time come up short. The over-the-top outfit would indicate that the person was not a military figure, and was instead Rembrandt dressing up in one of the many costumes he owned. Whereas in his earlier self-portraits he honed his skills in lighting and in the capturing of emotions, he then moved into dressing up as different people or people in various roles. This is a striking example of that—a masquerade in search of a ball. In the first state of this etching the figure is shown to the knees, in the second and third states Rembrandt reduced the plate to an oval shape and worked it over with the burin adding rich cross-hatching and deeper tonal values throughout.
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REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) Self-Portrait Drawing at a Window, 1648 Etching with drypoint and burin on laid paper Signed and dated in the plate A very dark and rich early 18th century impression. With small margins. New Hollstein VI of IX; Boon & White IV of V NH 240; B. 22 6 1⁄4 x 5 1⁄4 in. (15.9 x 13.3 cm) Framed dimensions: 22 7/8 x 21 1⁄2 in. 022914505
Here Rembrandt casts himself as a working artist. In contrast to a previous self-portrait, his costume has given way to a practical shirt, painter’s coat and narrow-brimmed hat. His furrowed brow suggests the concentration demanded of his enterprise. A radiant beam of light from the left provides the sole illumi- nation for the dark, minimally described studio. A rich chiaroscuro — achieved through a dense network of cross-hatching, drypoint and slashes of burin — lends a seriousness to the artist’s figure.
REMBRANDT’S GENRE ETCHINGS
Unlike many artists through the ages, Rembrandt did not restrict himself to a narrow set of subjects that interested him. Among his more unique works are “genre” subjects that are taken from everyday life in Leiden or Amsterdam. He undertook these works specifically because they interested him. Rembrandt had a fascination with everyday life. He found interest and inspira- tion in “genre” subjects for his etchings more than 50 times. While artists usually executed such works in order to make a point about society, Rembrandt did not. He was captivated by the less fortunate, though he was not compelled to work on their behalf to have them lifted up. He was certainly not a politically-active person who sought to change the world. The scenes are of ordinary people doing routine things. They were the lowly and the forgotten, doing things that would never be remembered by anyone. Taken together, they did comprise a very large Dutch quilt made from tiny scrap vignettes. These were scenes that have therefore never been forgotten, centuries later. People through the ages were as interested in those people as Rembrandt himself was. The forgettable have not been forgotten.
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) Woman at a Door Hatch Talking to a Man and Children (“The Schoolmaster”), 1641
Etching on laid paper Signed and dated in the plate
A 20th century impression. White and Boon’s only state. With full margins. From the American edition of 299. Edition number 226/299. B. 128; H. 192; BB. 41-N; New Hollstein 191 3 3⁄4 x 2 3/8 in. (9.53 x 6.03 cm) Framed dimensions: 19 5/8 x 17 7/8 in. 128907343XT
This strong night scene is typical of the Utrecht School in Holland and reveals a real impact on Rembrandt’s work. Rembrandt, no doubt, had seen the work of the Utrecht artists, Terbrugghen and Honthorst, and learned their lessons well. They were fond of night scenes in which a candle was placed in their midst of their subjects, then re-created the dramatic effects of that light on their faces. Christopher White commented that “In ‘The Schoolmaster’ Rembrandt got the effects of night by etching alone. To do this he used a fine mesh of cross-hatching which was more successful in describing darkness than realizing the forms of the children and of the old man, who stands gossiping at the door.” Rembrandt loved small children and did many pen and ink sketches of them. Sadly, three of his own children died shortly after birth within the six years preceding this work’s completion, and his son, Titus, was born that same year, so this rendition of schoolchildren most likely had particular meaning to him. Notice the technique of creating light for the main character, who appears bathed in light. The effect is so simple and yet so brilliant in that he simply renders her with very minimal lines, whereas everything around her is heavily cross-hatched.
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) Man in a Coat and Fur Cap Leaning Against a Bank, c. 1630
Etching on laid paper Signed in monogram in the plate upper right (in drypoint), “RHL” (in reverse) A fine impression of White and Boon’s third and final state. New Hollstein’s III and final state. The narrow white strip on the bank at the lower left, which failed to bite, is now shaded over. B. 151; H. 14; BB. 30-6; New Hollstein 48
4 1⁄2 x 3 in. (11.43 x 7.62 cm) Framed dimensions: 21 x 20 in. 151908367
Man in a Coat and Fur Cap Leaning Against a Bank , c. 1630 is typical of Rembrandt’s etched work around this time. The artist was fascinated by the effects of age, the richness of costume, and the drama created by chiaroscuro. Still living in Leiden in 1630, Rembrandt fashioned many studies of beggars and elderly citizens and most interestingly, Jacob Rosenberg once observed that, “Unlike his forerunners, he did not view poor people as quaint or amusing creatures. His early etchings and drawings of beggars represent them as pathetic and suffering.”
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) The Rat-Poison Peddler (The Rat Catcher), 1632
Etching and drypoint on laid paper Signed in monogram and dated lower right in the plate “RHL 1632” (the “3” and “2” both reversed) A superb, dark, 17th century impression of this very scarce print. With partially inky plate edges, with the del icate tonal areas (possibly Sulphur tint) and fine horizontal l ines on and around the barrel undiminished, with no sign of wear, consistent with the earl iest impressions of this subject. Narrow to thread margins. New Hol lstein’s third and final state. Biörklund’s third state (of 3). Usticke’s first state (e) (of 2), with the sl ipped stroke through the rat catcher’s shoe and shin distinct. White and Boon’s third state (of 3). B. 121; H. 121; BB. 32-C; New Hollstein 111 5 3⁄4 x 5 1/8 in. (14.6 x 13 cm) 121914133
The Rat-Poison Peddler (The Rat Catcher), 1632
One of his most popular genre prints was The Rat-Poison Peddler , which he completed fairly early in his career and was his first foray into the genre type. Ever since the Black Death, the bubonic plague pan- demic, killed dozens or even hundreds of millions in the 14th century, the control of rats was a priority of the population. There were two methods of achieving this control—poison and rat-killing animals. Rembrandt never passed judgment on his subjects, and in the case of the lowly itinerant door-to-door rat eradication salesman, he sought, as he always did, to show the humanity of the subject. He captured a story more than a moment in time. In this etching, the salesman is a scruffy, unkempt old man, wearing patched-up clothing and worn out fur. Yet he carries an ornate sabre, perhaps a testimony to a more glo- rious past where he was a somebody. He carries a basket atop a pole that has a live rat on top and dead rats hanging beneath, apparently to show that his product works. A single rat also sits on his shoulder, making the man all the more repellent. His very diminutive and equally simple helper has his own basket, and he is, with great expectation, enticing the homeowner to peak inside at the rat-catcher, likely a ferret. The homeowner is repulsed by the whole affair, and wants to get rid of the men. His hand is used to wave off the pair, rather than as an acceptance of the offer, which can be seen by his not looking the old man in the eye. His home has had better days, and there is clutter all around.
A neighborhood cat lurks in the background, a testimony to an alternative strategy that is less disgusting.
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) The Goldsmith, 1655
Etching and drypoint on laid paper Signed and dated in the plate, “Rembrandt 1655”
A superb, richly-inked 17th century impression, with very strong contrasts. No sign of wear and with all the fine lines distinct, with touches of burr on the left eye and in the area to the right of the Goldsmith. Biörklund’s first state (of 2). Usticke’s first state (of 3). White and Boon’s first state (of 3), before the fine, vertical shading on the right of the lowest beam. B. 123, H. 285, BB. 55-D; C2; New Hollstein 289 3 x 2 1/4 in. (7.7 x 5.6 cm) Framed dimensions: 18 3/8 x 16 1⁄2 in. 123912066
The Goldsmith, 1655
Rembrandt created a very small etching carrying a very large message. The goldsmith is putting some finishing touches on a sculpture that is far larger than any goldsmith would have worked on in the day. He has a forging fire burning in the left background, and tongs to hold the heated metal laying alongside him. He is using his hammer on his anvil as he works. The key feature is the sculpture he is working on— Charity. The sculpture had several variations in Rem- brandt’s time, but always featured a robed mother tending her children, in this case holding one child in one arm as she wraps the other around the child on the ground. The word “charity” has come to mean taking care of others in acts of selflessness, but the meaning is far deeper. The concept comes from I Corinthians 13:13, which lists three prime attributes the aging apostle Paul wished to highlight—faith, hope and charity, which should have been translated “love” as it is translated from the Greek word, “agape.” Paul says that among the three, the greatest is agape. Agape love is the highest form of love in that it is completely self-sacrificing and selfless. In Greek there are four categories of love: eros, philio, storge, and agape. Eros deals with sexual love, while philio deals with love between unrelated people, as in brotherly love (note that Philadelphia is referred to as the “City of Brotherly Love”). Storge refers to love between family members and agape love is associated with godly love. In this etching, the goldsmith is cradling the sculpture with one hand as he hammers with the other. He has not finished with his efforts to perfect agape. In life, most people have never heard of agape. For those who have, their efforts toward agape can never be finished.
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) A Standing Hurdy-Gurdy Player (Polander Standing with Arms Folded), 1631 Etching on laid paper This 17th century impression, an “extremely rare, delicate little print,” received Usticke’s RRR+ rating. A very fine atmospheric impression with plate tone, this brilliant example of Rembrandt’s hand-wiping of the plate is virtually impossible to find outside of a museum print room. The impression is unsigned and undated, but has been attributed to 1631. There are no watermarks and the plate is not in exis- tence. According to New Hollstein Dutch & Flemish, this state is II of II (White and Boon’s only state). In this state the uneven plate edges from the first state have been evened out and the corners have been rounded. Beyond those changes, no new work was added to the plate. B. 140; H. 138; BB. 35-7; New Hollstein 75 2 x 1 7/8 in. (5.08 x 4.76 cm) Framed dimensions: 17 1⁄2 x 16 3⁄4 in. 140912401 Rembrandt was fascinated with people who were forced to eek out a living through whatever little means were available to them. He was not making a political statement, he was just very interested. In 1631, he completed six etchings, essentially in a series. One showed a person of questionable character in tat- tered clothing, another showed an organ grinder, two were of Polish (“Polander”) soldiers, one was of a skater, and this one was of a Polish person with a hurdy-gurdy—a musical instrument that was to a violin what a grind organ was to an organ. The man has tucked his instrument under his arm and supports it with his left leg. Examples of this impression can be found in collections in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum; Cambridge, England’s Fitzwilliam Museum; Haarlem, Netherlands’ Teylers Museum; London’s British Museum; and Moscow’s Pushkin Museum, to name a few.
REMBRANDT Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669) A Young Man Seated and Standing (The Walking Trainer), c. 1646
Etching on laid paper A fine, uniquely superb 17th century lifetime impression of White and Boon’s first state of three. With narrow to thread margins. Still printing with rough and inky edges. Foolscap watermark (Ash/Fletcher 19, circa 1642-1656). B. 194; H. 222; BB. 46-1; New Hollstein 233 7 3⁄4 x 5 in. (19.69 x 12.7 cm) Framed dimensions: 24 1⁄4 x 21 1⁄4 in. 194124172T
A Young Man Seated and Standing (The Walking Trainer), c. 1646
Surviving sketches by Rembrandt’s pupils indicate that this etching originated during a life-drawing session held in the artist’s studio. The two male figures in the foreground are the same model pre- sented in two different poses. While his students drew this model repeatedly on separate pages from their respective vantage points, Rembrandt sketched the figures directly onto a copper plate with his etching needle, adding a mother and child in the background to complete his image. In 17th-century Dutch emblem books, a child in a walker often illustrated the proverb “Practice makes perfect.” Rembrandt’s addition of this vignette transforms the print from a studio exercise into a commentary on the importance of life drawing. As in most of his nudes, Rembrandt does not hide his models’ flaws, their sagging flesh and plain features—giving them an immediacy which can be both jarring and sympathetic. A Young Man Seated and Standing, or The Walking Trainer, is an unusual composition in which the artist has juxtaposed two dissimilar subjects in the same scene. However, it is best understood as a study in the artist’s studio in which he portrays his models in the foreground, then looks beyond them into the next room where an old nurse is training a child to walk in a 17th-century “walker.” For an artist whose studio was located in his home, this could have been a scene from real life. During the time that this etching was executed in 1646, Geertje Dircx, (whom he hired initially to be a wet-nurse for his infant son, Titus, after the untimely death of his wife, Saskia) was a nurse, lover, and model of Rembrandt. Titus, however, was five years old at the time of this etching. It is interesting to note that the two subjects which occupy contiguous space have been differentiated brilliantly by utilizing the deeper bite of the etching acid to make the foreground figures darker and leaving the background scene lightly etched.
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