THE DRAWINGS OF REMBRANDT:  

a revision of Otto Benesch's catalogue raisonné

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Benesch 450-500

 

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Benesch 0451

Subject: Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione, after Raphael

Verso: Laid down

Medium: Pen and brown (iron-gall) ink, with brown wash, heightened with white, on paper prepared with brown wash; ruled framing lines in pen and brown ink (mostly cut away on the right). Inscribed by Rembrandt, upper left, in the same ink: “de Conte / batasar de / kastijlijone / van raefael” and top right: “verkoft / voor 3500 gulden” and below: “het geheel caergesoen tot Luke van Nufeelen / heeft gegolden fl 59456: - : ANo 1639” [1639 underlined] (the Count Baltasar Castiglione by Raphael, sold for 3,500 guilders, the whole cargo of Lucas van Nuffeelen [Uffelen] fetched 59,465 guilders. Anno 1639).

164 x 217. Watermark: none visible; chain lines: 24[?]v.

COMMENTS: The drawing’s three inscriptions, certainly written by Rembrandt himself, gives it near-documentary status, although it is not actually signed. They mention a cargo (“caergesoen”, as Rembrandt wrote) or, perhaps, what we would call a “consignment”, of pictures belonging to the merchant, collector and art dealer, Lucas van Uffelen (after 1575-1639), which was auctioned in Amsterdam on 7 April, 1639. Although only dated that year, 1639, it is reasonably supposed that the drawing may have been made on that very day. Rembrandt here sketched a quick copy after Raphael’s Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione, now in the Louvre (Fig.a), which was the most expensive item in the sale. The differences between the original and copy are slight – chiefly the jauntier angle of the hat, a slight tilting forward of the head, and the lower collar at the back – and nothing much beyond the expected in such a rapid notation.[1] Yet Rembrandt, perhaps involuntarily, makes the image unmistakeably his own.

The vendor, Van Uffelen, was a scion of an Antwerp family that had moved to the Dutch Republic to avoid religious persecution. From 1615 he settled in Venice, dealing in armaments and fitting out ships, but was also active as a merchant and art dealer as well as a collector. He returned to Amsterdam in 1630, bringing his collection in 1631, which was sold in the year of his death.[2]

The precise date when he acquired the Raphael portrait is unknown.[3] Presumably brought to Amsterdam in 1631, it could have been seen by Rembrandt before he made the drawing, and the picture remained in Amsterdam for two years after the auction: the purchaser at the 1639 sale was the collector Alfonso Lopez (1572-1649),[4] who sold it to Cardinal Mazarin in 1641, at whose death it was acquired by Louis XIV. The painting depicts the well-known Mantuan courtier, Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529), best remembered for his book on etiquette, Il Cortegiano, first published in 1528. Rembrandt was not alone in admiring the portrait when it was in Amsterdam: his colleague, Joachim von Sandrart (1606-1688), who had arrived in Amsterdam in 1637, made a drawing of it, that was engraved, in reverse, by Reinier van Persijn (1614-1688), with a dedication to Lopez (Fig.b).

Drawn in iron-gall ink on paper prepared brown, the drawing is one of a few sure footholds for dating other works in this technique by Rembrandt (see further under Benesch 0157).[5] In its bold and confident application of pen and wash, and in its use of white bodycolour to correct or refine the outlines in the collar and by the hands, it is a characteristic example of the works he made in this medium from c.1638-39.

This is not the only time Rembrandt made a drawing after Raphael – see Benesch 0348 after a detail of the tapestry design of St Paul Preaching in Athens. The influence of the Portrait of Castiglione seems mostly to have left its mark in Rembrandt’s self-portraits, and in particular the etched Self-Portrait Leaning on a Stone Sill, of 1639 (Fig.c; Bartsch 21; NH171), and the National Gallery in London’s Self-Portrait completed in the following year, in 1640 (Fig.d; Bredius 34; Wetering 179) have been cited. Yet in both cases, the influence is combined with an equally strong or indeed stronger stimulus from Titian, who was himself influenced by the Raphael Portrait, and whose Portrait of a Man (thought to depict Ludovico Ariosto), also in the National Gallery, was also in Lopez’s collection (Fig.e). That the influence of the Raphael portrait may have been a tad overplayed in Rembrandt's case – in reaction to the drawing - is also suggested by Rembrandt’s etched Self-Portrait with an Embroidered Cloak of 1631 (Fig.f; Bartsch 7; NH 90): made long before Rembrandt saw the Raphael, it already adumbrates many of its compositional formulae. At that time, his primary inspiration, as mentioned under Benesch 0057, appears to have been a print after a Self-Portrait of Rubens, engraved by Paulus Pontius (Fig.g); this itself reflects the influence of the Raphael, of which Rubens had made a painted copy in c.1625-28 (Fig.h).

The copies by Rubens, Rembrandt and Sandrart all suggest that the Raphael has been trimmed, most importantly below, losing much of his hands.[6]

Condition: Good, though suffering from the acidity of the iron-gall ink eating into the paper; a small hole by the first letter of the last line of the inscription;

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: 1639.

COLLECTION: A Vienna, Albertina (L.174; inv.8859).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Vosmaer, 1877, p. 521; Hofstede de Groot, 1891, p.72; Hofstede de Groot, 1894, p.181; Michel, 1893, p.521; Schönbrunner and Meder, 324; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.1430 (1639; with all details); Hofstede de Groot, 1906.I, p.79, no.71; Rijkevorsel, 1932, p.148, repr. figs.24 and 180; Tupinier ,1933 (on Lopez); Benesch, 1935, pp.27-28; Exh. Amsterdam 1935, no.46; Paris, 1936, p. 115; Bloch, 1946, pp. 170-186 (on Lopez); Benesch, 1947, no.100, repr.; Exh. Paris, 1950, no.107; Slive, 1953, p. 34; Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.451, repr. fig.508/538 (1639, with all details); Exh. Vienna, 1956, no.43; Exh. Stockholm, 1956, no.94; Exh. Rotterdam-Amsterdam, 1956, no.91, repr. fig.32; Benesch, 1960, no.33, repr.; Goldscheider, 1960, p. 17, n. 1; Benesch, 1964, no.171, repr.; White, 1964, p. 166, nn. 28-29; Clark, 1966, p.125, repr. fig.116; Fuchs, 1968, p.57, repr. fig.98; De Jongh, 1969, pp.49-67 (Rembrandt consciously rivals Raphael and Titian); Van Eeghen, 1969, p. 81; Exh. Vienna, 1969-70, no. 18, repr.; De Vries, 1970, p. 100; Campbell, 1975, pp. 20-32; Reznicek, 1978, pp. 75-103; Strauss and van der Meulen, 1979, doc.1639/8, repr.; Exh. Amsterdam, 1985-86, no.50, repr; Chapman, 1990, pp.72-73, repr. fig.103 (drawing makes Castiglione resemble Rembrandt - the sketch already an idea for a self-portrait); Amsterdam, 1991, p.36, repr. fig.21A; Royalton-Kisch, 1991.I, p.282, n.4; Exh. Berlin-Amsterdam-London, 1991-92.I, p.200, repr. fig.13b; Van den Berghe, 1992, pp.31-32, repr. fig.1; Exh. Melbourne-Canberra, 1997-98, p.128, under no.13, repr. fig.13d; Van der Veen, 1998, p.22, repr. fig.8; Exh. Amsterdam, 1999, pp.38-39, repr. fig.19); Exh. London-The Hague, 1999-2000, p.172, repr. fig.53c; Rebecchini, 2002, pp.131-32; Exh. London, 2002-2003, under no.220; Dickey, 2004, pp.90-91, repr. fig.104; Exh. Vienna, 2004, no. 8, repr.; Dickey, 2007, pp.3-4, repr. fig.1; Schatborn and Dudok van Heel, 2011, no.VII, repr.; Broos, 2012, p. 123; Golahny, 2013, p.4; Sluijter, 2015, pp.39-40 and 76, repr. fig.88; Chapman, 2017, p.116, repr. fig.4.11 (as Chapman, 1990); Exh. Denver, 2018-19, p.66; Schatborn, 2019, p.435 and no.667, repr. (1639; the date a starting-point for dating other works in iron-gall ink).

PROVENANCE: Herzog Albert von Sachsen-Teschen (Lugt 174).

[1] Dickey, 2004, p.90 (see Literature above), suggests these discrepancies might be explained if Rembrandt had sat on the right of the auction house and sketched the picture while it was on the block. Chapman, 1990 and 2017, believes that Rembandt made Castiglione resemble himself in the drawing - that the sketch was from the start an idea for a self-portrait.

[2] See Rebecchini, 2002, pp.131-32.

[3] Van den Berghe, 1992.

[4] He is commonly referred to as the Spanish “Ambassador” but in fact there were, of course, no ambassadors from Spain in the Dutch Republic until after the Treaty of Münster (1648).

[5] As noted by Schatborn, 2019, p.435.

[6] The combined wisdom of conservators and restorers currently insists that the picture was never cut down.

First posted 4 November 2019.

 

 

Benesch 0452

Subject: The Bust of a Roman Emperor

Verso: Blank (see Inscription)

Medium: Pen and brown ink. Inscribed verso in pen and brown ink, perhaps by Rembrandt: “Ga wat op [?]” and by another hand: “Rembrandt”

118 x 75. Watermark: none; chain lines: 27h.

COMMENTS:[1] In few lines, and probably fewer minutes, Rembrandt here captured many of the characteristics of an ancient Roman portrait bust: the noble, dry, haughty expression, the thin face, the underlying structure of the chin, neck, shoulders and collar-bones, the flow of the toga and plinth and a geometrical abbreviation for a laurel crown. An assertive horizontal stroke suggests the shelf on which the bust portrait sat. Rembrandt also imbues the sketch with a sense of realism, breathing life into the marble rather than setting his characterisation in stone.

Slight though the drawing may be, it is a rare example of a facet of Rembrandt’s art that is under-represented by his surviving drawings: more than is generally supposed, Rembrandt was fascinated by ancient Greek and Roman art and culture. In prints, drawings and paintings, he represented numerous scenes derived from ancient history and mythology. He depicted antique busts and other statuary in several of his works, whether prints, drawings or paintings, most famously in the picture of Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer of 1653 (Fig.a. Bredius 478; Wetering 228). Rembrandt’s knowledge of the classics, in which he was steeped in the Latin Leiden school in his youth, was clearly wide-ranging and profound.[2]

The significance of the Turin drawing becomes apparent through the mention of such studies in substantial numbers in the inventory of Rembrandt’s possessions that was drawn up in 1656. Among the varied array of artefacts and works of art that the artist had collected, he kept productions of his own, including (no.251 of the inventory) “a packet full of drawings from the antique by Rembrandt”, as well as (nos.261-62) a small book “full of drawings of statues by Rembrandt done from life” and “one ditto as above”.[3] A packet and two small books is impossible to quantify, but perhaps a conjecture that they contained more than 30 drawings altogether is not unreasonable. But now only four, cursory drawings of this type survive: one in Berlin representing the Emperor Galba, with the ruler’s name inscribed on it (Fig.b; Benesch 0770), another in Vienna of an unidentified figure (Fig.c; Benesch 0770a) and this one in Turin. The Berlin and Vienna drawings were both owned in the eighteenth century by Thomas Hudson (1701-1779), as was a third drawing of the same type, probably by a pupil (Fig.d; not in Benesch), while the Turin drawing belonged to Hudson’s student, Joshua Reynolds. The Berlin drawing may also be by a pupil and the idea that Rembrandt gave classes at which several pupils and other acolytes made drawings from the antique is not far-fetched (for joint sketching sessions, see under Benesch 0710).

These four drawings, therefore, are a small sample of what has been lost. But the same inventory reveals more about Rembrandt’s interests in this area by also listing sixteen supposedly antique sculpted portrait busts, probably of marble, on which the four surviving drawings may have been based. The sculptures were kept in the artist’s studio, or “Kunst Caemer”, in his house in Amsterdam (now the Rembrandt House Museum).[4] Some or all of them Rembrandt may have acquired from a sale in Amsterdam in 1646, when he expended a substantial sum on such items - 186 guilders and 10 stuivers.[5] In style the three drawings appear to be no earlier than 1646, the closest stylistic analogies being with a sketch he made towards his etching, the posthumous Portrait of Jan Cornelis Sylvius of 1646 (Benesch 0763), and with two preparatory drawings for the Hundred Guilder Print of around 1645-48 (Benesch 0188 and Benesch 0388). These exhibit the same combination of liquid, bold, yet deft and abbreviated strokes. The three surviving drawings may therefore have been made not long after Rembrandt had acquired the sculptures, although the abbreviated delineation of the laurel crown and the neck make a date c.1650 possible.

The face in the Torino sketch bears a general resemblance to Julius Caesar, although the elaboration of the bust does not correspond in detail to any known portrait of him.[6] No precise model for the drawing is known. Rembrandt’s inventory identifies, not always accurately, a “Caius” - perhaps Caesar - as well as Caligula, Heraclitus, Nero, ‘a Roman emperor’, Socrates, Homer, Aristotle, Faustina, Galba, Otto, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus Vespasian, Domitian and “Silius Brutus”,[7] as well as statues of Agrippa, Aurelius, Vitellius and Seneca, and various unidentified antique statues and plaster casts.[8] This is an impressive collection, and the drawings may have been based on sculptures that he himself owned.

There would have been three main impulses to Rembrandt’s interest in ancient art: his above-mentioned classical education at the Latin School in Leiden, which would have introduced him to ancient history, mythology and literature; his continued contact throughout his career with scholars and others who were well versed in the classics, including his sitters, lawyers, art-collectors and artists. For the latter, an interest in the antique had become almost a prerequisite since the Renaissance for those with ambitions as history painters. Successful artists would strive to be proclaimed as the equal of the ancient Greek painters Apelles and Zeuxis. Doubtless these impulses were underpinned by Rembrandt’s teacher, Pieter Lastman (1583-1633), who had worked in Italy and whose paintings are strongly marked by the antique in both form and subject-matter.

If the influence of classical thought and artistic traditions, including knowledge of works by the great painters of antiquity as described by ancient writers, was a significant ingredient in Rembrandt’s artistic endeavour, he nonetheless made little attempt at direct emulation. His own art – unlike that, for example, of his older contemporary, Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) - is perhaps best understood as an attempt both to outclass the works of the ancients while creating a more realistic style that avoided direct comparison with them.[9] Indeed, perhaps he felt that a style of art that was invented in a pre-Christian era was not suitable for direct emulation by a painter of his own time, with Christian values. A particular benefit of the drawing in Turin and Figs b-d lies in its prompting of such major questions concerning the very foundations of Rembrandt’s art.

Condition: Generally good, though with some foxing and minor stains.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1647-50.

COLLECTION: I Turin, Biblioteca Reale (L.2724; inv.16449 a D.C).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Six, 1897, p.7, repr. (in reverse) pl.8 (represents Trajan); Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.1149; Wurzbach, 1910, p.420; Schmidt-Degener, 1915, p.21, repr. (in reverse) pl.7; Ricci, 1918, p.85; Valentiner, 1925, p.203, no.629, repr. in reverse.; Benesch, 1935, p.28; Exh. Turin, 1951, no.15; Exh. Milan, 1954, no.234; Benesch, II, 1954-57, no.452, repr. fig.507/540 (c.1638-39; notes Benesch 0770 and Benesch 0770a, placing them at different periods); Van Gelder, 1955, p.396; Rosenberg, 1956.I, p.69 (should be dated later, with Benesch 770 and 770a); Benesch, 1959 (reprinted 1970), p.215; Haverkamp-Begemann, 1961, p.27; Van Gelder, 1961, p.151, note 19; Sumowski, 1961, p.7; Clark, 1966, p.77; Exh. Milan, 1970, no.27; Kiel, 1971, pp.164-5; Held, 1972, p.8, fig.2; Sciolla, 1972, p.72, note 1; Benesch, 1973, no.452, fig.540; Sciolla, 1974, pp.64-5, no.106; Sciolla, 1976, no.xlv; Sciolla, 1978, pp.10-11; Strauss and Van der Meulen,,1979, p.363; Exh. Turin, 1982, no.3; Sciolla, 1985, p.91, fig.135; Exh. Turin, 1989, no.145; Exh. Vienna, 2004, p.42; Exh. Turin, 2006-2007, no.11, repr.; Exh. Los Angeles, 2009-2010, p.9; Schatborn, 2019, p.435 and no.672, repr. (c.1647; probably from a work in Rembrandt's own cabinet; similar item used in Metropolitan painting of Aristotle).

PROVENANCE: Sir Joshua Reynolds (L.2364); Giovanni Volpato, Paris; Carlo Alberto of Savoy, King of Sardinia (acquired from Volpato, 1845); transferred by him to the present repository.

[1] The text here is based on my entry in Exh. Turin, 2006-2007, no.11.

[2] For Rembrandt’s knowledge of classical culture, see especially Held 1972, Golahny 2003 and Exh. Amsterdam-Berlin, 2006, pp.79-123. This is not to say that his erudition was a match for Rubens’s, but the interest was a shared one.

[3] Strauss and Van der Meulen, 1979, pp.374-77. For a discussion of Rembrandt’s collection, see Scheller, 1969 and Exh. Amsterdam, 1999-2000.

[4] Strauss and Van der Meulen 1979, pp.362-5; Exh. Amsterdam, 1999-2000, pp.118-20.

[5] Strauss and Van der Meulen 1979, p.363 and note 147, and p.249. They follow Clark, 1966, p.77, in speculating that the marbles may previously have belonged to Dudley Carleton.

[6] This suggestion first made by Schatborn in Exh. Milan, 1970, no.27.

[7] Perhaps meant to refer to Lucius Brutus, the founder of the first Roman Republic in 509BC. The drawing of Galba in Berlin (Benesch 770) is believed to have been based on a sculpture now in Copenhagen, which is now thought to represent a Roman citizen.

[8] Strauss and van der Meulen, 1979, pp.363-385.

[9] For a discussion of Rembrandt’s motivations as an artist, with special reference to the antique, see Van de Wetering, in Exh. Amsterdam-Berlin, 2006, loc. cit. (note 2).

First posted 8 November 2019.

 

Benesch 0453

Subject: A Camel with Two Figures, a subsidiary study top right

Medium: Pen and brown ink, with some white bodycolour. Inscribed upper centre, in pen and brown ink: “Drommedaris. / Rembrandt fecit. / 1633. / Amsterdam.” And numbered lower right: “65.”

194 x 289.

COMMENTS: Camels must have been an uncommon sight in Amsterdam in the seventeenth century and this may have given rise to the unusually detailed inscription.[1] Clearly not written in Rembrandt’s own hand (although it may have been based on a genuine Rembrandt inscription), a comparison with the handwriting on Benesch 0257 exposes differences in most of the individual characters and, therefore, it cannot be regarded as having documentary status. But it appears to be early, and at the very least could preserve a reliable tradition. It of course calls the beast a dromedary, whereas with its two humps it is clearly a Bactrian camel; but this common confusion or looseness of terminology has long reigned between the two species, despite the fact that Aristotle already described them separately in his History of Animals.

In style, the closest link is with a drawing of a horse in the Rijksmuseum – a coincidence that reminds us of the old quip that a camel is a horse designed by a committee (Fig.a; Benesch 0780). The Rijksmuseum’s drawing is now generally attributed to Govert Flinck and common to both works are the emphatic outlines, which are frequently interrupted, sometimes, as in the camel’s belly, in parts that are in shadow, while at others bold and closed in areas that should be lit, as in the camel’s first hump. This is the converse of Rembrandt’s usual practice. Both are also marked by copious and busy shading, applied in pockets with more confidence than precision, where Rembrandt would be more economical and simultaneously convey the texture of the animal’s hide and the unity of its parts (cf. Benesch 0457-59, albeit in chalk). Rembrandt would hardly have employed so much hatching. Also similar are the shadows on the ground, spun away from the nearest hoofs with the same calligraphic touch. The figures – camels are almost always represented with riders or handlers, here wearing turbans - also resemble Flinck’s, both in their amorphous physiques, with a meandering imprecision in the lines that fashion their forms, and their superficial characterisations. If we compare the figures with, for example, the three quick pen sketches for the St John the Baptist Preaching of c.1633-34 (Benesch 0140-42), the idea that the drawing is by Rembrandt recedes dramatically.

The separate study at the top right of the sheet (see the detail; I have a photograph from the original negative, which is clearer), showing the camel’s hind quarters and genitalia, is worthy of separate assessment. In style, it has little in common with the rest of the drawing. With less hatching, it is marked by a precise, incisive and descriptive touch. In studying Rembrandt, art historians are not forewarned that the artist will lead you into some expertise in the anatomy of the genitalia and urinating/defecating habits of the male camel, but here we are: camels urinate backwards, and the drawing shows the penis protruding slightly from its sheath (see Fig.b). The round shape of the lump drawn immediately to the right of the leg is characteristic of camel dung. The bone-structure of the beast is delineated more convincingly than the equivalent area in the main drawing. The accuracy here joins the delicate style, which is entirely compatible with Rembrandt’s Portrait of Saskia of 1633 (see the detail in Fig.c; Benesch 0427): where the artist notes the shadow under Saskia’s arm it resembles the shading to the right of the detail, as does the fine parallel shading in her shoulder. In short, the compiler believes that Rembrandt borrowed his pupil’s sheet in order quickly to sketch this passing event. After all, his depictions of such moments in dogs and humans abound in his paintings and etchings, especially in the early 1630s.[2] So finally, the inscription is found to contain a grain of truth: Rembrandt contributed to this sheet by sketching the hind quarters of the camel while relieving itself, at the top right corner; and he did this in 1633, in Amsterdam.

Benesch 0454, the drawing with the heads of two camels, has sometimes been separated out as a work by another hand – Rembrandt himself; but here the compiler agrees with Benesch’s 1954 assessment – and the latter would have seen the originals together: “the drawings are, however, so close in style that it seems impossible to attribute them to different hands”.[3] He thought both were by Rembrandt, but again, we encounter the same plethora of hatching and the calligraphic touch that is characteristic of Flinck. Certainly, there is more detail in the nearer head, and the drawing is undoubtedly of high quality, but the hand is Flinck’s and the same, down to the downward-pointing “fingers” in the shaggy pelt beneath the neck. This conclusion is bolstered by the slight sketch of a figure, the head begun with the canonical oval divided by a cross, which is entirely consistent with Benesch 0002, which we believe to be Flinck’s work (q.v.; see Fig.d). There we encounter, yet again, Flinck’s propensity for shading in pockets of hatching and for using emphatic outlines.[4] However, there is a correction to the upper line of the crown of head of the camel on the right, executed in a warmer tone of brown ink: this might well be a correction by Rembrandt to his pupil’s work (see the detail illustrated).

A copy of Benesch 0453 was recorded in the collection of Mr Austin Mitchell, New York City;[5] another, of Benesch 0454, is in Dresden.[6] An etching that combines both drawings, with the inscription from Benesch 0453, and in which the bodies of the camels in Benesch 0454 are completed (though omitting the incipient figure in that drawing), was included by Rovinski as from the Rembrandt school, but could be later, to judge by its more decorative touch (Fig.e, shown in reverse).[7] The way it combines elements from two sheets is common in the etchings after Rembrandt made in the eighteenth to nineteenth centuries, including those by Ignace-Henri de Claussin (1795-1844), although in this case the print is probably not so late. The etching may have been the basis for another copy, in the Ashmolean Museum, which appears, even more, to be eighteenth century.[8]

The existence of the etching and the New York copy begs the question as to whether they depend on a lost original by Rembrandt. But as we have seen, the style of Benesch 0453-54, while characteristic of Flinck, does not seem to have been copied from a prototype. This appears to be confirmed by the pentimento immediately in front of the first hump. However, Rembrandt may well himself have made studies of this and related creatures - a dromedary (i.e. with just one hump) famously appears in the Hundred Guilder Print of c.1648 (see Figs.f-g), but a comparable animal already appears towards the left of the grisaille of St John the Baptist Preaching of c.1633-34 (Bredius 555; Wetering 110). In reverse, its head resembles, only superficially, that in Benesch 0454 but without the spikey hair at the top of the head, which is at a slightly different angle and cranes right around the neck; and below the neck, there is no moulting fleece (see Fig.h), suggesting that Rembrandt had carefully studied a dromedary as well - dromedaries do not have fleeces (and their legs are longer than a camel’s).

Dromedaries and camels were studied by numerous artists in order to include them with verisimilitude in biblical scenes and tales of ancient history, chiefly in illustrations of the adoration of the magi. Already depicted in antiquity, from African cave art to Babylon and Rome, in the Renaissance and early Baroque periods, drawings of these animals survive by the likes of Pisanello, Battista Franco, Goltzius, Hans Savery and Anselmus Boëtius de Boodt, all before the present study was made, probably in 1633, the year that Flinck is thought to have joined Rembrandt’s workshop. Other Rembrandt followers drew the beasts as well, including Lambert Doomer (Sumowski 382) and Samuel van Hoogstraeten (Sumowski 1270-72). Willem Drost may have been responsible for a drawing of the 1650s in the Metropolitan Museum of Art that was formerly attributed to Rembrandt (Benesch A44; inv. 08.227.36), while Benesch 0503 and Benesch 0566 also show a camel each, but erroneously, with the longer legs of a dromedary in the former and the hump too far forward in the latter. A drawing of a camel dated 1646 by Cornelis Saftleven – not considered a Rembrandt follower - is now in the Chicago Art Institute.[9]

As an addendum, I am including some insightful correspondence I have been privileged to enjoy with relevant experts at the Zoological Society of London:

1. Mick Tiley, Specialist Zookeeper, wrote (e-mail to the compiler, 18 November, 2019): “the camel [...] is a Bactrian as it has two humps. To be absolutely correct, it is a domestic Bactrian Camel, “Camelus bactrianus”, as in more recent years, what was considered to be one species - i.e. Bactrian Camel - DNA studies have now shown […] to be two Bactrian Camel species, one wild, “Camelus ferus”, and one domesticated, “Camelus bactrianus”, with a common ancestor. The other camel species is the Arabian, “Camelus dromedarius”, which is totally domesticated and has one hump. It is often referred to as a Dromedary, but again to be totally correct, Dromedary usually refers to the leggy, light-weight breed bred specifically for racing. To summarise, there are therefore three species of camel, two that are domesticated (or feral in some cases) and only one truly wild camel.”

2. Donovan Glyn, Team Leader of the Asia Region, wrote (e-mail 18 November, 2019): “What it [Benesch 0453] appears to show is a camel in very poor physical condition.

"You will note the prominent pelvic bone (‘pin bone’ or ‘iliac wing’ [also known as the ‘wing of Ilium’]) protruding behind the rear hump, and the fact that both humps are flaccid. In a healthy camel, there is sufficient muscle to cover the pelvis entirely, and it should not really be possible to discern this bone clearly.

"Furthermore, a camel's humps are composed internally of fat, so are a good reflection of overall condition. The position of these humps would alter as they fill with fat, and essentially push the front hump backwards, and the rear hump forwards (I have tried to demonstrate this on the attached picture, as well as roughly where the line of abdomen, neck etc should extend in a healthy animal). [See Fig.i]

"So I suggest that the picture is actually very accurate, especially when put into a historical observational context, and that your observations regarding its accuracy are also correct.

"The face sketches [Benesch 0454] appear to show a camel which is rather angry or annoyed; this is evidenced by the curled lower lip and wrinkled upper muzzle in the left hand illustration; the right hand picture is misleading as it has glowering eyebrows (very much a human feature, and we must be careful not to anthropomorphise).

"You note the genitalia, too, [in the sketch at upper right of Benesch 0353 – see the detail between Figs b and c] and despite the rather peculiar appearance, this is indeed a true reflection (the mating position adopted by camels is rather odd in order to accommodate this).

"I would expect a camel in the 1600s to have been transported by ship or by being led on foot, neither of which would have been conducive to general condition if they were for extended periods. Would it be too assumptive to suggest this animal was drawn because it was a new arrival (novelty value), and therefore was in poor condition due to a recent journey? In which case, we would expect a return to health within a month, with the correct feeding regime.”[10]

Condition: Not seen by the compiler.

Summary attribution: Govert Flinck and Rembrandt (at top right only).

Date: 1633 (?).

COLLECTION: Formerly D Bremen, Kunsthalle (L.295; inv.65); currently in R Moscow, Pushkin Museum.

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Bode, 1883, p.454 (Rembrandt); compares drawings of Elephants in London and Vienna, Benesch 0457-59); Bremen, 1907, no.2, repr.; Pauli, 1911, p.120, repr. fig.1 (copy after Rembrandt); Exh. Bremen, 1912, no.234, repr.; Benesch, 1935, p.15; Exh. Amsterdam, 1935, no.52; Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.453, repr. (c.1633; Rembrandt, as also Benesch 0454); Rosenberg, 1956.I, p.69 (not Rembrandt); Sumowski, 1956/57, p.263 (Rembrandt); Sumowski, 1961, no.264 (copy); Haverkamp-Begemann, 1961, p.27 (Rembrandt; the camel presumably the same as the "camels" seen by Sir William Brereton in 1634 in Loosduinen); Haak, 1974, no.9, repr. (Rembrandt); Bernhard, 1976, repr. p.67; Schatborn, 1977, no.18, repr. (doubtful); Broos, 1982, p.246, repr. fig.1 (should count as a document; handwriting compares closely with inscription on Benesch 0257); Broos, 1983.I, p.4, repr. fig.2 (as Haverkamp-Begemann, 1961); ; Broos, 1984.I, p.35, repr. fig.2 (by Rembrandt; the drawing a document that should have been included by Strauss and van der Meulen, 1979); Exh. New York, 1995, under no.81, and n.2 (anonymous; seen in context of Benesch A44); Exh. Bremen, 2000-2001, no.A20, repr. (attribution questionable; still missing from Bremen); Roscam Abbing, 2006.I, no.5 (inscription discussed; notes camels seen in the Netherlands, c.1633 to 1645); Schatborn, 2010, p.30, repr. fig.33 (Flinck, copying Rembrandt); [Not in Schatborn, 2019].

PROVENANCE: Bremen, Kunstverein (L.295).

[1] See Roascam Abbing, 2006.II, p.14, who records camels in the Netherlands between c.1633 and 1645.

[2] See, for example, the etchings of a Man and a Woman Making Water of 1631 (Bartsch 190-91; NH 52 and 79; a discussion is in Exh. Amsterdam-London, 2000-2001, no.12); the dog in the print of the Good Samaritan of 1633 (Bartsch 91; NH 116) and the defecating child and the copulating hounds in the grisaille of St John the Baptist Preaching of c.1633-34 (Bredius 555; Wetering 110).See Exh. Amsterdam-London, 2000-2001,

[3] See Pauli, 1911, and Schatborn, 2010 and Schatborn, 2019 in Literature above. In an email to the compiler of 1 May, 2012, Peter Schatborn agreed with me that both drawings are by Flinck, changing his view from his 2010 publication (see Literature above); but in Schatborn, 2019, he reverts to include just Benesch 0454 as by Rembrandt, which he has seen in St Petersburg.

[4] Compare also the hatching in Flinck’s Seated Old Man in the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne (inv., 1278.12.2-3; Felton Bequest; Sumowski 948x; repr. Schatborn, 2010, p.12, fig.11).

[5] Recorded by Benesch, 1954/73.

[6] Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.277 as “nicht ganz zweifellos”; mentioned as a copy Benesch, 1954 (see Literature above) and included in Exh. Dresden, 2004, no.63, repr..

[7] Bartsch, II, p.125, no.59; Rovinski, p.64, no.59.

[8] Inv.115a1951 and attributed to Leonaert Bramer. An etching after the drawing was also made by Dominique Vivant-Denon (1747-1825), as noted by Roscam Abbing, 2006.II, p.14.

[9] Inv. 1989.201; Schulz, 1978, no.375. Two anonymous Rembrandt school drawings of camels are in the British Museum (inv. Ff,4.122 and SL,5261.59; respectively London, 2010 [online], nos. 124-25, repr.).

[10] I am also grateful to Ann Sylph, Librarian at the Zoological Society of London.

First posted 16 November 2019. Addendum completed 23 December 2019.

 

 

Benesch 0454

Subject: Two Studies of the Head of a Camel, with a figure sketched in

Medium: Pen and brown ink. Inscribed lower right: “1870.”

186 x 291.

COMMENTS: See the note to Benesch 0453. As there recorded, a copy of the present drawing is in Dresden (Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.277 as “nicht ganz zweifellos”; Exh. Dresden, 2004, no.63, repr.), and a copy which combines Benesch 0453 and 0454 is in Oxford. The latter may be based on an etching (see Benesch 0453, Fig.d).

Condition: Not seen by the compiler.

Summary attribution: Govert Flinck.

Date: 1633.

COLLECTION: Formerly Bremen, Kunsthalle (L.295); currently in R St Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum.

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Bremen, 1907-8, no.1, repr.; Pauli, 1911, p.120, repr. fig.2; Exh. Bremen, 1912, no.677, repr.; Pauli, 1914, I, 23; Exh. Amsterdam, 1935, no.52; Benesch, 1935, p.15; Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.454, repr. (c.1633; Rembrandt, as also Benesch 0453; notes copies in Dresden and Oxford); Sumowski, 1956/57, p.263; Sumowski, 1961, p.264 (probably a copy); Exh. New York-Cambridge, 1960, under no.39; Haverkamp-Begemann, 1961, p.27 (autograph); Scheidig, 1962, repr. fig.20; Schatborn, 1977, no.4, repr.; Exh. Bremen, 2000-2001, no.A19, repr. (attribution questionable; still missing from Bremen); Schatborn, 2010, p.30, repr. fig.34 (Rembrandt); Schatborn, 2019, p.285, no.462, repr., with detail repr. p.284 (Rembrandt, c.1633 - see Schatborn, 2010; camel studies came in useful in Hundred Guilder Print).

PROVENANCE: J.H. Albers; Kunstverein, Bremen (L.295).

First posted 16 November 2019.

 

 

Benesch 0455

Subject: A Chained Dog Curled Up in a Raised Kennel

Verso: Laid down on perhaps eighteenth-century paper (no drawing is visible through the backing)

Medium: Pen and brown (iron-gall) ink with brown wash, heightened with white (especially thick in the nose of the dog), which is perhaps thinly used elsewhere, on paper prepared pale brown; ruled framing lines in the same tone as the darkest ink of the drawing, though probably not iron-gall. Inscribed verso in pen and brown ink, top centre: “Rembr[…]” [illegible further than this)

145 x 167. Watermark: none visible except in the backing paper, which seems to have a mark in a circle bisected by a chain line; chain lines: horizontal (distance apart uncertain).

COMMENTS: In style the drawing is entirely characteristic of Rembrandt’s drawings in iron-gall ink, which are datable c.1638-39 (see under Benesch 0157; compare also Benesch 0423 and Benesch 0442). The preparatory brown tone of the paper is here considerably paler than in most of the other examples. Also unusual in technique are the parallel, horizontal striations in the shadow at the back of the kennel, which appear to have been created with the blunt end of a brush (see the detail illustrated).

A comparable dog appears in Rembrandt’s painted, grisaille sketch of Joseph Telling his Dreams of c.1634 (see the detail in Fig.a; Bredius 504; Wetering 108). This shows a similar animal but in reverse to the drawing (although the grisaille is believed to have been made in preparation for an etching, in which it would have been reversed once again).[1] However, the drawing appears to be later – for stylistic and technical reasons noted above – and is more closely related to an etching of the same subject (and probably the same dog) - that is usually dated c.1640 (Fig.b). In all three images, the ears of the dog have been trimmed, perhaps because it was a working animal, like those that accompany rat-catchers of the period. This is also the case with Rembrandt’s earlier study of a dog in Braunschweig (see under the “Not in Benesch” tab).[2] Although the etching is usually dated c.1640, it is uncertain whether the drawing preceded it: minor differences in the relationship between the neck and the head, and the nose and the leg, suggest that it was not used as the basis of the print; indeed, the latter gives every sign, in its fastidious description of the animal and its coat, that it was also drawn directly from nature. The drawing includes the animal’s dilapidated kennel, raised on blocks of wood to keep it above the wet, and the links of its tethering chain.

Dogs proliferate in Rembrandt’s work, from his early etchings of beggars to the hound in the Night Watch, and it is only natural that he, like so many artists before him, made drawings of them. They may have been kept in the album of his drawings of “beesten nae 't leven” (animals from life) mentioned in the 1656 inventory of his possessions (see under Benesch 0457).[3]

Condition: Generally good, but affected by iron-gall-ink burn and at times retouched (especially in the chain and below the kennel); the deterioration of the ink in places produces a similar tone to the white heightening; a section of paper below the kennel may have been replaced (see the detail illustration of this area).

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1638-39.

COLLECTION: USA Boston, Boston Museum of Fine Arts (inv.56.519; John H. and Ernestine A. Payne Fund).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, 1947, no.35, repr.; Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.455, repr. (c.1633; compares Benesch 0393 And Benesch 0462); Exh. New York-Cambridge, 1960, no.5, repr. (c.1633; darker brown ink accents added by another hand); White and Boon, 1969, under cat. B158 (c.1633); Schatborn, 1977, no.198, repr. (Rembrandt; used for Hundred Guilder Print); Bruyn, 1983, p.56 (as Benesch, 1954/73); Exh. Amsterdam-London, 2000-2001, under no.37, repr. fig.c (NB. the drawing was exhibited); Exh. Boston-Chicago, 2003-2004, no.54, repr. (late 1630s to 1640); New Hollstein, 2013, under no.180; Döring, 2016, p.374, repr. fig.7 (notes cropped ears of a working dog, like that in Braunschweig [see Not in Benesch tab]); Schatborn, 2019, p.285 and no.471, repr. (c.1638; Rembrandt probably used the head in the etching of a dog, but it is not a direct preliminary study)

PROVENANCE: Narcisse Revil; his sale, Paris, 16 Rue des Jeuneurs, 24 June, 1845, lot 53 (with measurements reversed), sold for F.125; Lucien Guiraud by 1947 and by descent to his widow; her sale, Paris, Drouot, 14-15 June, 1956, lot 62, repr. pl.xii, bt Maurice Gobin and William H. Schab; sold by the latter to the present repository (John H. and Ernestine A. Payne Fund).

[1] In the event it was used for a much smaller etching by Rembrandt in which the dog’s pose is entirely different (Bartsch 37; NH 167).

[2] As pointed out by Döring, 2016 (see Literature).

[3] Strauss and van der Meulen, 1979, 1656/12 (f.35v).

First posted 18 November 2019.

 

 

Benesch 0456

Subject: Two Studies of a Bird of Paradise

Verso: Laid down

Medium: Pen and brown (iron-gall) ink and brown wash, rubbed with the finger and heightened with white, on paper washed pale brown; what appear to be striations made with a blunt tip (perhaps the wrong end of the brush) assist in the modelling of the feathers of the nearer bird. Inscribed lower left in pen and brown ink: “Rembrand” and upper right, in pen and brown ink, by Bonnat: “46”; two dots appear lower right and another pair to right with what appears to be a “5” or perhaps “S” on its side (see further below).

181 x 155.

COMMENTS: The drawing, though designed to make the bird appear alive, was clearly made from a stuffed specimen, like the sketch of the same animal in Benesch 0158, which was drawn at around the same time and in the same medium. In the 1656 inventory of Rembrandt’s possessions there is mention of “Een laede daerin een paradijsvogel en ses wayers” (item 280: A drawer in which a bird of paradise and six fans).[1] Well-known among Rembrandt aficionados is the fact that specimens of the bird, native to New Guinea, Australia and the Moluccas, were usually preserved without their legs, giving rise to a kind of myth that they never landed but flew throughout their lives.[2] The drawing has been associated with two of Rembrandt’s paintings of the same period, the Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl, of c.1639, and the Dead Bittern, dated 1639 (respectively Bredius 456 and 31; Wetering 165-66). Although the connection is loose, Rembrandt does appear to have been focussing on ideas for still-life at this period.

Rembrandt possessed an album of his own drawings that was described as depicting “Beesten nae ‘t leven” (animals from life) in the 1656 inventory (see under Benesch 0457). The extraordinary precision and verve of the drawing render it an exceptional example of Rembrandt’s capacities as a draughtsman. The bold, prominent lines vie for attention with the physical description of the bird, making for a clear demonstration of the alchemy of drawing, the metamorphosis of line into image.

Two small dots appear at the lower right and another pair to the right, with what appears to be a “5” or perhaps “S” on its side. Some – particularly those at the lower right – may be accidental, but they resemble the mark of an owner of Rembrandt’s plates in c.1700, who engraved two dots on them, sometimes in combination with a “+” sign.[3]

Condition: Good.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1638-39.

COLLECTION: F Paris, Musée du Louvre, Département des arts graphiques (inv. RF 4687; L.1886; MS inventory, vol.20, p.266).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Dutuit, 1885, p.96; Seidlitz, 1894, p.121; Lippmann, I, 164; Exh. London, 1899, no.197; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.757 (c.1635-1640); Demonts, 1920, p.7, repr. fig. 6 (c.1639; compares painting of Two Dead Peacocks with a Girl of 1639, Bredius 456; Wetering 165); Weisbach, 1926, p.52; Exh. Amsterdam, 1932, no.324; Paris, 1933, no.1195, repr. pl.55; Exh. Paris, 1934, no.114d; Benesch, 1935, p.19; Exh. Paris, 1937, no.129; Exh. Brussels, 1937-38, no.89, repr.; Rosenberg, 1948, p.154; Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.456, repr. (c.1637; compares Benesch 0158 and Benesch 0353, and follows Demonts,1920, comparing also 1639 painting of a Dead Bittern, Bredius 31; Wetering 166; associates with 1656 inventory reference [see main text above]; Exh. Paris, 1960, no.181; Exh. Paris, 1962, no.50; Slive, 1965, I, no.174; Gerson, 1968, p.252, repr. fig.a; Exh. Amsterdam, 1969, no.33, repr.; Exh. Paris, 1970, no.171; Sciolla, 1976, under no.17; Schatborn, 1977, pp.16-17, repr. fig.16; Strauss and van der Meulen, 1979, no.1656/12, under no.280; Amsterdam, 1985, under no.53, n.3; Exh. Paris, 1988-89, no.26, repr.; Freedberg, 1991, pp.416-18, repr. fig.10 (compares scientific illustrations – the more to appreciate Rembrandt); Exh. Berlin-Amsterdam-London, 1991-92.I, no.15, repr.; Exh. Paris, 2006-2007, no.24, repr.; Schatborn, 2019, pp.19 and 285, and no.468, , repr. (c.1638; bird drawn as if alive, unlike Benesch 0158).

PROVENANCE: Possibly an anonymous collector, c.1700 (see under Comments above, last paragraph); Uvedale Price (his annotation, L.2048, verso); his sale, London, 304 May, 1854, lot 187, bt Colnaghi, £2-10s); Léon Bonnat (L.1714; acquired before 1885, with his album number top right: “46”); given by him to the present repository, 1919.

[1] Strauss and van der Meulen, 1979, no.1656/12, f.36v..

[2] See Simmons, 2016, p.66. Linnaeus named the bird Paradisea apoda – “without feet” in Greek (Schatborn, 1977, p.16).

[3] Discovered by Kruzel, 2006, more of the marks were found by Hinterding and Rutgers (see NH, pp.lviii-lix).

First posted 28 November 2019.

 

 

Benesch 0457

Subject: An Asian Elephant (“Hansken”)

Verso: Laid down

Medium: Black chalk, heightened with white. Signed and dated by the artist lower right: "Rembrandt ft. 1637"

233 x 355. Watermark: none visible; chain lines: 26h. (visible in raking light).

COMMENTS: Rightly regarded as one of Rembrandt’s finest works, this is a documentary drawing, as it is authentically signed and dated 1637. Another sketch, showing three elephants (Benesch 0458), was probably made at the same time. Two further drawings of elephants by Rembrandt are known - Benesch 0459 and Benesch 0460 - although the latter is an offset and its autograph status has been questioned. Rembrandt also depicted an elephant trumpeting through the landscape background of his etching of the Adam and Eve, made one year after Benesch 0457, in 1638 (Fig.a. Bartsch 28; NH 168).[1]

Benesch 0457 is the most exceptional of the series of elephant studies, a tour-de-force description of the texture of the creature’s skin, its resplendent bulk and frisky agility, with the details extending to its light head of hair. The bold style and the layered depths and tones of the shading assist in conveying a palpable sense of movement, allowing the eye to waver between more than one pose - fixing either on the darker lines, which appear nearer, or seeing through them to the paler underlying forms, drawn with a lighter touch. The shading is never mechanical and, like the contours, varies in strength in response to the fall of the light from the left.

In Benesch 0458, Rembrandt drew the elephant three times in different positions, producing a convincing ensemble, as if he had seen a small herd of three, which is not possible. Presumably – to judge by their outlines - he began with the foreground beast, captured in motion, then the reclining one, before completing the drawing with the profile of the animal feeding itself behind. The figure to the right, doubtless the animal’s attendant, resembles in pose the St John the Baptist in Benesch 0142a recto, but in its elongation and style is closer to the Joseph in Benesch 0446. Both the figure and the elephant closest to him appear to have been viewed from a slightly elevated vantage-point. If the drawings (Benesch 0457-58) are placed side-by-side, the similarity of style and materials strongly suggests that they were made at around the same time, although attempts have been made to date Benesch 0458 later on the basis that the animal looks older.[2]

Benesch 0460 is known only through an unprepossessing offset now in the Morgan Library, New York (see further on the fact that it is an offset under Benesch 0460). The sketch focusses only on the elephant’s head and forequarters. Included here is a reversed and digitally enhanced image to give an idea of the greater contrasts that would have characterised the lost original drawing. To judge from the style, including the depiction of the shadow, it is surely by Rembrandt and must have been drawn at the same time as Benesch 0457-58, despite a degree of uncertainty in parts of the modelling – perhaps because the animal was moving (as suggested also by the alternative profiles of its back).

The British Museum’s drawing, Benesch 0459, stands slightly apart, not least in including a family of onlookers to the right: the elephant is static and drawn in a different style, with somewhat less freedom but more precision. The artist was chiefly preoccupied by setting down the play of light over the wrinkled hide, the texture of which is described with exacting sensitivity. The darker shadows appear to have been reinforced in charcoal, a rare medium for Rembrandt, but one found in a landscape study in Rotterdam (Benesch 0813), which supports the idea that it was made later than Benesch 0457-58. The watermark, recorded as of c.1642, appears to confirm that it was made after 1637, likely in late 1641:[3] a letter written by Caspar Barlaeus on 23 November 1641 describes an elephant that was performing in Amsterdam. He records that it was viewed in an enclosure by some 200 spectators, performing various tricks, including pointing out supposed thieves with its trunk.[4] Three months earlier, on 16 August 1641, the diarist, John Evelyn, mentioned seeing the elephant in Rotterdam. He wrote: “Here I first saw an elephant, who was extremely well disciplined and obedient. It was a beast of a monstrous size, yet as flexible and nimble in the joints, contrary to the vulgar tradition, as could be imagined from so prodigious a bulk and strange fabric; but I most of all admired the dexterity and strength of its proboscis, on which it was able to support two or three men, and by which it took and reached whatever was offered to it; its teeth were but short, being a female, and not old. I was also shown a pelican, or onocratulas of Pliny, with its large gullets, in which he kept his reserve of fish; the plumage was white, legs red, flat, and film-footed, likewise a cock with four legs, two rumps and vents: also a hen which had two large spurs growing out of her sides, penetrating the feathers of her wings.”[5]

Much has been written about the elephant that Rembrandt, Evelyn, Barlaeus and many others saw, to the extent that the animal’s biography is among the most fully documented of any of Rembrandt’s “sitters”. It was a female of the Indian, or Asian species. Born in Sri Lanka in 1630 and shipped to Amsterdam in 1633, it was briefly owned by Frederik Hendrik, Prince of Orange, and Johann Maurits, Prince of Nassau-Siegen. It learnt to perform various tricks and travelled widely as a curiosity, taking in Germany, Denmark, Poland, Russia, France, Austria, Switzerland and Italy, where it died, in Florence, in 1655. Its skeleton is still preserved there in the Museo della Specola and formed the basis for the modern scientific study of the species. As well as by Rembrandt, the animal was etched by Herman Saftleven in 1645 (Fig.b), and apparently etched and its corpse subsequently drawn in Florence at the end of its life in 1655 by Stefano della Bella, who had also made prints and drawings of this or another elephant before, possibly when the beast was in Paris (1639-50) or Amsterdam (1647).[6] In the Dutch Republic, the elephant, though female, was known as “Hansken”.[7] According to a news pamphlet of 16 July 1633, it was unloaded in Amsterdam from a newly arrived ship of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and first displayed at the “Old Glasshouse” in Amsterdam. A fee was charged and the proceeds destined for the poor of Amsterdam. The tract also states that it was a white (possibly albino) elephant, something of a rarity, which must have increased the interest it aroused. It was later memorialised in a souvenir print of the period, (Fig.c) showing the elephant performing its many tricks.[8] One of them was to dance – perhaps caught in the act in Benesch 0457 (and even in the foreground of Benesch 0458). In colour, white elephants are not, in fact, usually white, but are significantly paler than a regular elephant, and sometimes (especially when wet) appear pink (see the larger and older albino specimen photographed in Fig.d).

Some or all of Rembrandt’s drawings of elephants (and other animals) may have been included in an album that is mentioned in the inventory of the artist’s possessions, compiled in 1656: “Een dito [kunstboeck] vol teeckeninge van Rembrant bestaende in beesten nae 't leven”.[9]

Condition: Good.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt*

Date: 1637.

COLLECTION: A Vienna, Albertina (L.174; inv.17558).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Vosmaer, 1877, pp.217, 516 and 606 (1637; mentions Munich drawing of Adoration of Magi, with an elephant behind, inv.1409; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.379; Munich, 1973, no.547, repr. as Eeckhout; not in Benesch); Schönbrunner and Meder, 1893-1908, no.263; Michel, 1893, p.276, n.1, and p.582 (connects with Van Baerle - see n.3 below); Seidlitz, 1895/1922, p.41/102, under no.28 (relates to Benesch 0458 and Benesch 0459 and to 'Adam and Eve' etching); Valentiner, 1905, p.156 (notes elephant in 'Adam and Eve' etching); Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.1469 and under no.948; Bode and Valentiner, 1906, p.39, repr.; Wurzbach, 1910, p.421; Hind, 1912/23, under no.159; London, 1915, under no.43; Neumann, 1918, no.19; Graul, 1924, no.22; Weisbach, 1926, p.25-6 (dates all elephant drawings 1639 on basis of erroneous reading of date on Benesch 0457); Byam Shaw, 1928, pp.31-32 (comparing Benesch 137); Benesch, 1935, p.28; Exh. Amsterdam, 1935, no.42; Benesch, 1947, no.83, repr.; Exh. London, 1948, no.54; Rosenberg, 1948, p.154; Exh. Vienna, 1949, no.90; Exh. Paris, 1950, no.105; Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.457, repr. fig.515/546 (notes Elephant in Fall of Man [Adam and Eve] etching of 1638 Bartsch 28; NH 168); Exh. Stockholm, 1956, no.89; Exh. Rotterdam-Amsterdam, 1956, no.67, repr. fig.24 (as Benesch, 1954); Exh. Vienna, 1956, no.28; Benesch, 1960, no.27, repr.; White, 1962, p.18; Benesch, 1964.I, no.170, repr.; Rosenberg, 1964, repr. fig.226; Slive, 1965, under no.120; Exh. Amsterdam, 1969, no.46, repr. (perhaps made later than Benesch 0459; otherwise as Benesch, 1954); Exh. Vienna, 1969-70, no.12, repr.; Gerson, 1969, p.252, repr. fig.b; Haak, 1969, p.147, repr.; White, 1969, I, p.42; Schatborn, 1977, p.20, no.23, repr. (does not represent “Hansken”); Slatkes, 1980, pp.7-13, repr. fig.3 (on “Hansken”); Amsterdam, 1981, under no.6, n.5; Broos, 1982, p.247 (“reportage” element here, as also to other animal drawings by Rembrandt; mentions Barlaeus letter of 23 November, 1641 that records an elephant performing in Amsterdam); Exh. Washington-New York-Vienna, 1984-86, under no.28; Amsterdam, 1985, under no.16, n.2; Exh. Vienna-Amsterdam, 1989-90, no.40, repr.; Exh. Berlin-Amsterdam, 1991-92.I, under no.13, repr. fig.13a (discusses Rembrandt's drawings of elephants; notes Saftleven’s etching); ; Exh. London, 1992, under no.18; White, 1999, p.39; Exh. Amsterdam, 2000, no. 45, repr.; Schröder, 2003, repr. pl.46; Exh. Vienna, 2004, no.71, repr; Exh. Budapest, 2006, p.54 and no. 44, repr. p.53; Roscam Abbing, 2006, p.21, repr. p.19 (with full biography of “Hansken”); Roscam Abbing and Tuynman, 2006, pp.173-190, repr . fig. 12a (on Hansken the elephant, and annotations about him by Ernst Brinck,1582/82-1649); Exh. St Petersburg, 2008, no.87; Exh. Vienna, 2009, no.73, repr.; London, 2010 (online), under no.19; Royalton-Kisch, 2011, pp.98-99, n.11 (documentary drawing); Royalton-Kisch and Schatborn, 2011, no.34, repr. fig.110 (documentary drawing); Exh. Vienna, 2013, no.151, repr.; Exh. Vienna, 2014, p.157, repr.; Döring, 2016, p.372, repr. fig.4; Roscam Abbing, 2016, pp.20-21, repr., detail repr. pp.10-11; Schatborn, 2019, pp.19 and 286, and no.464, repr. (useful study before the Adam and Eve etching).

PROVENANCE: Kaiserliche Hofbibliothek, Vienna; Herzog Albert von Sachsen-Teschen (L.174).

[1] The connection first made by Michel, 1893 (see Lit. below).

[2] See especially Roscam Abbing and Tuynman, 2006, p.187.

[3] The date c.1641 for the British Museum drawing was already suggested by Vosmaer (1868, p.460 and 1877, p.606).

[4] The document is in Leiden University Library. An addendum to a letter, it was already noted in the context of Rembrandt by Michel, 1893, p.71, note; see also Schmidt-Degener, 1914 and Kauffmann, 1920, p.54; the document itself is partly repr. Roscam Abbing, 2006, p.26.

[5] Quoted from the edition by Richard Garnett, London, 1901, pp.19-20 online at: <http://www.gutenberg.org/files/41218/41218-h/41218-h.htm>. Evelyn’s mention was first noted by White, 1903.

[6] See Roscam Abbing, 2016, pp.50-55 and 58. He points out that another elephant, presented in 1623 by Philip IV to James I, did the rounds in the late 1620s and was last recorded in the possession of Gaston d’Orléans in 1635. Stefano della Bella may have made etchings on the basis of this animal.

[7] The identification with “Hansken” was already made by Vosmaer, 1868, p.460.

[8] See Slatkes, 1980, Roscam Abbing, 2006 (based on Roscam Abbing and Tuynman, 2006), and Roscam Abbing, 2016 (with updates at www.elephanthansken.com), for further details concerning “Hansken” (there is also a briefer biography in Wikipedia). For the print, see Alexander and Strauss, 1977, p. 784. For a print of another elephant in Germany in 1629, see also pp. 723-24. There was also an elephant in Rome in 1630 which was engraved by Pietro Testa (see Haskell and Rinehart, I960, p. 322) and formed the basis of a painting of Hannibal Crossing the Alps by Nicolas Poussin (see Rice, 2017).

[9] Strauss and van der Meulen, 1979, no.1656, f.35v., item no.249. See Schatborn, 1977, passim.

First posted 12 January 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0458

Subject: Three Studies of an Asian Elephant (“Hansken”), with a standing figure

Verso: Laid down

Medium: Black chalk, heightened with white (eg. in the head of the elephant on the right).

240 x 356. Watermark: none visible; chain lines: 26h (clearly visible in – or even without - raking light).

COMMENTS: See the comments to Benesch 0457.

Condition: Good, though some discolouration near the edges, and some creases from the mat-maker, especially top right.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: 1637.

COLLECTION: A Vienna, Albertina (L.174; inv.8900).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Vosmaer, 1877, pp.217, 516 and 606 (1637); Michel, 1893, p.276, n.1, and p.582; Schönbrunner and Meder 1893-1908, III, no.283, repr.; Seidlitz, 1895/1922, p.41/102, under no.28 (relates to Benesch 0457 and Benesch 0459 and to 'Adam and Eve' etching); Valentiner, 1905, p.156 (notes elephant in 'Adam and Eve' etching); Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.1468 and under no.948; Wurzbach, 1910, p.421; Hind, 1912/23, under no.159; Meder, 1923, pl.26; Weisbach, 1926, p.25-6 (dates all elephant drawings 1639 on basis of erroneous reading of date on Benesch 0457); Benesch, 1935, p.28 (c.1637); Exh. Amsterdam, 1935, no.43; Benesch, 1947, no.84, repr.; Benesch, II, 1954/73, no. 458, repr. fig.516/547; Exh. Rotterdam-Amsterdam, 1956, under no.67; Exh. Vienna, 1956, no.29; Benesch, 1960, p.148, under no.27; White, 1962, p.18; Slive, 1965, under no.120; White, 1969, I, p.42; Exh. Vienna, 1969-70, no.13, repr. and under no.12; Schatborn, 1977, p.20, no.23, repr.; Slatkes, 1980, p.8, n.8; Amsterdam, 1981, under no.6, n.5; Exh. Washington-New York-Vienna, 1984-86, under no.28; Exh. Vienna-Amsterdam, 1989-90, under no.40;Exh. Berlin-Amsterdam-London, 1991-92.I, no.13, repr.; Exh. London, 1992, under no.18; Exh. New York-Milan, 1997, no.52; Exh. Berlin, 1998, no.27, repr.; White, 1999, p.39; Schröder, 2003, repr. pl.47; Exh. Vienna, 2004, no.70, repr.; Exh. Milwaukee, 2005-6, no.24, repr.; Roscam Abbing and Tuynman, 2006, I, pp.173-190, repr. fig.12c (1644-46; later than Benesch 0457); Roscam Abbing, 2006, p.31, repr. p.32 (the third of Rembrandt’s drawings of elephants, datable c.1642-44); Exh. Vienna, 2009, under no.73; London, 2010 (online), under no.19; Exh. Vienna, 2013, under no.151, repr. (c.1637); Exh. Vienna, 2014, p.156, repr.; Döring, 2016, p.373, repr. fig.5; Roscam Abbing, 2016, pp.40-42, repr., detail repr. pp.36-37; Schatborn, 2019, pp.19 and 286, no.465, repr. (1637; composed on the sheet like a model sheet).

PROVENANCE: Kaiserliche Hofbibliothek, Vienna; Herzog Albert von Sachsen-Teschen (L.174).

First posted 12 January 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0459

Subject: An Asian Elephant (“Hansken”); standing to right, a few spectators at right background

Verso: see Inscriptions.

Medium: Black chalk and charcoal. Inscribed verso in graphite, lower left: “Rembrand” and centre: “Veritable Dessein de Rembrandt.”

179 x 256. Watermark: posthorn in shield, the letters 'P.B.' below (see Laurentius, p.252, no.611, dated 1642).; chain lines:.

COMMENTS: See the comments to Benesch 0457. A reproduction of the drawing, in reverse, was 'Engraved by Cap:t Baillie from a Drawing by Rembrandt: Aug. ye 1, 1778' (Fig.a). Wiiliam Baillie did not record the whereabouts of the drawing at the time but it may already have been in Barnard's collection.[1]

Condition: Good, though the sheet is spotted with stains; possibly trimmed below and to right.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1641.

COLLECTION: GB London, The British Museum (inv. Gg,2.259).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Bürger, 1858, p.395 (praises the drawing); Blanc, II, 1861, p.454 (as Bürger, but criticises Baillie’ engraving); Vosmaer, 1868, p.460 (c.1641; perhaps of Hansken; mentions Barlaeus letter of 1641); Vosmaer, 1877, pp.217, 528 and 606 (1641); Dutuit, IV, 1885, p.86 (as Vosmaer, 1868); Michel, 1893, p.276, n.1, and p.582, repr. opp. p.275 (refers only to Vienna and Salting collections - the latter perhaps in reference to Benesch 0460 - and compares etching of Adam and Eve, Bartsch 28, NH 168); Seidlitz, 1894, p.121; Seidlitz, 1895/1922, p.41/102, under no.28 (relates to Benesch 0457 in Vienna drawings and to 'Adam and Eve' etching); Lippmann, I, no.118; Kleinmann, III, no.46; White, 1903, p.357 (quotes Vosmaer and Michel; of Hansken); Bell, c.1905, repr. pl.XL; Valentiner, 1905, p.156 (notes elephant in 'Adam and Eve' etching); Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.948 (c.1637-8; notes two Vienna versions and that now in New York, Benesch 0460); Michel, 1906, repr. opp. p.66; Baldwin Brown, 1907, pp.115 -6 and 174, repr. pl.17; Wurzbach, 1910, p.418; Hind, 1912/24, under no.159; London, 1915, no.43; Neumann, 1918.I, p.12 and no.19, repr.; Kauffmann, 1920, p.54 (relates to Van Baerle's description of an elephant [see under Benesch 0457, n.3]); Weisbach, 1926, p.25-6 (dates all elephant drawings 1639 on basis of erroneous reading of date on Benesch 0457); Byam Shaw, 1928, pp.31-32 (comparing Benesch 0137); Benesch, 1935, p.28 (c.1637); Wichmann, 1940, no.31, repr. (c.1637-8); Schinnerer, 1944, no.32, repr.; Benesch, 1947, p.24, under no.83; Hamann, 1948, pp.147 and 151, repr. fig.108 (c.1638); Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.459, repr. fig.517/548; Exh. Rotterdam-Amsterdam, 1956, under no.67; Benesch, 1960, p.148, under no.27; White, 1962, p.18, repr. pl.26; Slive, 1965, no.120, repr.; Exh. Amsterdam, 1969, no.45, repr. (perhaps earlier than Benesch 0457); White, 1969, I, p.42; Exh. Vienna, 1969-70, under no.12; Exh. Vienna, 1970-71, p.71, under no.113; Rawson, 1977, p.132, repr. fig.179; Schatborn, 1977, p.20, no.22, repr.; Slatkes, 1980, p.8 (depicts 'Hansken'); Amsterdam, 1981, under no.6, n.5; Exh. Washington-New York-Vienna, 1984-86, under no.28; Exh. Berlin-Amsterdam-London, 1991-92.I, under no.13; Exh. London, 1992, no.18, repr. (c.1637 or perhaps early 1640s); Bakker, 1994, p.27, repr. fig.32; Giltaij, 1995, p.98 (not charcoal – misquoting Exh. London, 1992); White, 1999, p.39; Exh. Vienna, 2004, under nos.70-71; Exh. London, 2006 (no cat.); Roscam Abbing and Tuynman 2006, p.174, repr. fig.12 (see n.4 above); Roscam Abbing, 2006, repr. p.20; Roscam Abbing and Tuynman, 2006, pp.173-190, repr . fig. 12b (dates 1637-38; on Hansken the elephant, and annotations about him by Ernst Brinck,1582/82-1649); Exh. Vienna, 2009, under no.73; London, 2010 (online), no.19, repr. (c.1637-41); Exh. Paris, 2012, no.82, repr. fig.151; Roscam Abbing, 2016, p.40, repr. p.9 (possibly 1641); Exh. Poole-Hull-Belfast-Santa Fe-Providence, 2016-18, p.66, no.27, repr.; Schatborn, 2019, pp.19 and 286, no.466, repr. (1637; carefully executed).

PROVENANCE: Perhaps a French collection (see verso inscription); John Barnard (L.1419-20); his sale, London, Greenwood, 3rd day, 19 February, 1787, lot 39 (stated to be the drawing engraved by Baillie), sold for £2-12-6 with one other (a ‘Historical subject by S. de Koning’); bequeathed by the Rev. C. M. Cracherode (who, according to the register, acquired it in 1787) in 1799.

[1] A more recent etching after the drawing was made by the Australian artist, John Farmer.

First posted 12 January 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0460

Subject: The Head and Forequarters of an Asian Elephant (“Hansken”)

Verso: Inscriptions only

Medium: Black chalk on paper (offset); traces of framing lines (top and bottom) in graphite.

Inscribed verso, in graphite, top centre: "1637"; and lower centre, "No 13" [?; or “Fp 92” upside down]

195 x 189. Watermark: foolscap with seven points and three bells (similar to Heawood, no. 2003; c.1671-72); chain lines: 24h.

COMMENTS: See the comments under Benesch 0457. The elephant may here be performing a trick, as it may be holding an object in its trunk.

It has been suggested that the present work is not a counterproof, because the chalk lines catch the surface texture of the sheet of paper, like a fully autograph drawing. However, the idea that an offset would not respond to the surface of the paper onto which it is transferred is erroneous. Furthermore, the direction of shading (at both the feet, on the belly and behind the ear) is consistently in the correct direction for an offset, as is the generally flat appearance of the image. It is possible that a few darker-looking touches (at the ear, under the neck, behind the upper part of the nearer leg) were applied directly, but in all other respects the drawing should continue to be regarded as an offset (as emphatically described by Benesch, under no.460).

Condition: Good; a little foxed/stained lower right.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: 1637.

COLLECTION: USA, New York City, Morgan Library (inv.I,205).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Michel, 1893, p.276, n.1, and p.582; Fairfax Murray, 1905-12, I, no.205, repr.; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.1089, under no.948, and p.402 corrigenda (c.1637); Exh. Paris, 1908, no.450; Hind, 1912/23, under no.159; Weisbach, 1926, p.25-6 (dates all elephant drawings 1639 on basis of erroneous reading of date on Benesch 0457); Benesch, 1935, p.28 (c.1637); Benesch, 1947, under no.83 (offset); Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.460, repr. fig.514/545 (1637); Exh. Rotterdam-Amsterdam, 1956, under no.67; Benesch, 1960, p.148, under no.27; Exh. New York-Cambridge, 1960, no.27, repr.; Exh. New York, 1968, no.36; White, 1969, I, p.42; Exh. Vienna, 1969-70, under no.12; Bernhard, 1976, II, p.207, repr.; Slatkes, 1980, p.8, n.9; Amsterdam, 1981, under no.6, n.5; Baudiquey and Huyghe, 1984, p.27; Exh. Washington-New York-Vienna, 1984-86, under no.28, n.6; Exh. Berlin-Amsterdam-London, 1991-92.I, under no.13 (offset after a lost drawing by a pupil); Exh. London, 1992, under no.18 (Rembrandt); White, 1999, p.39; New York, 2006, no.213, repr. (not a counterproof); Roscam Abbing and Tuynman, 2006, pp.173-190, repr . fig. 12d (on Hansken the elephant, and annotations about him by Ernst Brinck,1582/82-1649); Exh. Vienna, 2009, under no.73; London, 2010 (online), under no.19 (Rembrandt); Roscam Abbing, 2016, pp.42-43, repr. (possibly 1641); [Not in Schatborn, 2019].

PROVENANCE: George Salting?;[1] Charles Fairfax Murray, from whom purchased through Galerie Alexandre Imbert, Rome, in 1909 by Pierpont Morgan; his son, J. P. Morgan, Jr. (1867-1943), New York.

[1] Michel, 1893, followed by Hofstede de Groot, 1906, under no.948, and Exh. Paris, 1908, no.450, mentions a drawing by Rembrandt of an elephant in the Salting collection, apparently referring to the present sheet. Hofstede de Groot mentions it as in the Fairfax Murray collection but with Salting as provenance. Hofstede de Groot, 1906, nos.1115-1130 catalogues Salting's collection but does not list it, nor was such a drawing included in Salting's bequest to the British Museum in 1910. It is possible Salting owed it for a time and passed it on to Fairfax Murray.

First posted 12 January 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0461

Subject: Two Dray Horses at a Halt, with two attendant figures

Verso: See inscriptions only

Medium: Black and red chalk; framing lines in pale brown ink over black chalk. Inscribed verso lower left, in graphite: “CH”

173 x 273. Watermark: none; chain lines: 20h.

COMMENTS: The drawing is among Rembrandt’s most informal genre sketches, presumably made from life. The figure on the right appears to spread a blanket over the back of the nearer horse, while another figure helps feed the other. Both animals appear exhausted. Their burden, a cart, is indicated sketchily on the right.

The boney structure of the head of the further animal, with its deep eye-socket, resembles an articulated wooden model and is characteristic of Rembrandt’s earliest depictions of horses, including the Horse Lying Down in the British Museum of c.1626 (see Fig.a and under the Not in Benesch tab) and the related painting mentioned there. The additional detail in red chalk in the nearer horse also resembles the style of the same drawing, perhaps especially in the trailing zigzag shading the animal’s neck, which echoes those below the foreleg in the British Museum’s drawing. The sketchier handling of the background horse in the latter is also consistent with the figure on the left here.

Overall the Rijksmuseum’s drawing appears somewhat more fluent – and less pernickety in detail – and the broad handling of the black chalk in the legs of the nearer horse and in the figures suggests a slightly later date for the present work, alongside the figure studies Benesch 0030 verso and Benesch 0031 of c.1629. Given the connection with the British Museum’s drawing a possibly earlier date, c.1627-29, should be preferred. There is no reason to believe that the red chalk was added significantly later, as has been argued (including by Benesch, who thought the red chalk by a later hand): the artist merely worked up the details in this medium, using a sharper point.

It is possible that the drawing may have been included in the album of studies of animals from life recorded in the 1656 inventory of Rembrandt’s possessions (see under Benesch 0457).

Condition: Good; some slight staining mostly in the upper section of the sheet, especially towards the upper corners.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: 1627-29.

COLLECTION: NL Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum (L.2228; inv. RP-T-1961-77).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Amsterdam, 1942, under no. 124; Exh. Basel, 1948, no.1 (c.1627); Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.461. repr. fig.518/549 (c.1637; red chalk is by a later, probably 18th-century hand; compares Benesch 0457-59 and figure on the left with that standing on the left of Benesch 0151); Goldscheider, 1960, p.166, no.21b, repr.; Van Gelder, 1961, p.151, n.24; Van Regteren Altena, 1961, pp.70 and 85, no.33, repr. (c.1637, as Benesch); Exh. Amsterdam, 1968.I, no.36; Arpino and Lecaldino, 1969, p.134, disegno 11; Exh. Chicago, 1969, no.95 (c.1629-30); Schatborn, 1977, no.11, repr. p.13; Amsterdam, 1981, under no.6, n.5 (1637); Amsterdam, 1985, no.16, repr. (c.1637; compares Benesch 0280a and b); Royalton-Kisch, 1991.III, pp.411-13, repr. fig.4 (dates to Leiden period; compares Horse Lying Down, Not in Benesch, British Museum, inv. Ff,4.121); Exh. Munich-Amsterdam, 2001-2, no.27, repr. (c.1629); Exh. Vienna, 2004, no.69, repr.; Exh. Amsterdam, 2006, p.52, repr. fig.47; Royalton-Kisch, 2009, p.510, repr. fig.4; London, 2010 (online), under no.73, n.4 (Leiden period; as Royalton-Kisch 1991.III); Döring, 2016, p.373, repr. fig.6; Amsterdam, 2017 Online at <hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.28137>, accessed 18 January 2020;[1] Schatborn, 2019, p.285 and no.460, repr. (c.1629; figures, in contrast to the animals, drawn only cursorily, as in Benesch 0151 and Benesch 0453).

PROVENANCE: Anonymous sale, London, Foster’s, 3 March 1937, lot 147, bt Colnaghi, from whom purchased by Isaäc de Bruyn-van der Leeuw, 15 April 1937, £300; presented by him to the present repository in 1949, with usufruct until 1960 (De Bruijn-van der Leeuw Bequest)..

[1] The 2017 entry, which is signed as by Peter Schatborn, returns to the dating of Amsterdam, 1985 (c.1637), but according to Peter Schatborn (e-mail to compiler, 25 Jan 2020) this is in error: "The drawing with the two horses I do not date 1637 anymore and the text on the website was not written by me, although I gave a lot of new information on literature after the 1985 catalogue. So, take the early dating that I based on your proposal [in Royalton-Kisch, 1991.III]"

First posted 21 January 2020.

 

Benesch 0462

Subject: An Entrance to a Cottage, with Outside Stairs, a Well and a Trough

Verso: Inscriptions only

Medium: Pen and brown (iron-gall) ink, heightened with white, on paper prepared brown; ruled framing lines in pen and black ink and in red chalk. Inscribed verso, with the inventory no.: “22,419. Rembra[nd]t” [the “nd” not legible]

180 x 235. Watermark: none; chain lines: 23v; 15/16 laid lines/cm..

COMMENTS: Rembrandt here chose to draw a lowly corner, one that he may have known well: as previously noted by Benesch, the scene may have inspired the background of the painting of 1630 – followed, in reverse, by the related etching of 1633 - of the Good Samaritan (Wallace Collection, Bredius 545; Wetering 42; the etching Bartsch 90; NH 116 – see Fig.a). In equally general terms one might also point to the etching of 1634 of Christ and the Woman of Samaria, which again shows a similar scene, in reverse (Fig.b. Bartsch 71; NH 127).

However, the use of iron-gall ink places the drawing later, c.1638-39 (see under Benesch 0157). Thus the drawing may have been a return to a previously seen location. Nevertheless, it remains one of the earliest of Rembrandt’s surviving sketches of an outdoor motif.

As noted by Benesch, the close stylistic links with Benesch 0393 enables the attribution of the present work to Rembrandt to be accepted unproblematically.[1] The drawing was copied by Lambert Doomer, who added two figures as staffage, and it has been suggested that he may have owned the drawing having acquired it at the sale of Rembrandt’s possessions.[2]

Condition: Some slight stains and discolouration.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1638-39.

COLLECTION: D Hamburg, Kunsthalle (L.1328; inv.22419).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.353; Benesch, 1935, p.16; Benesch, 1947, no.36, repr.; Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.462, repr. fig.520/550 (c.1633; compares Benesch 0393; relates to painting of the Good Samaritan, Wallace Collection, Bredius 545; Wetering 42, and the related etching of 1633, Bartsch 90; NH 116); White, 1969, p.286; Exh. Nice, 1975, no.X, repr.; Schatborn, 1977.I, p.48, repr. fig.1 (on Doomer copy); Amsterdam, 1981, p.94, repr. fig.23a; Lee, 1992, p.210, n.38 and no.2; Royalton-Kisch, 1992, p.114, repr. fig.5 (among Rembrandt’s earliest landscape studies); Exh. Bremen, 2000-2001, no.60, repr. (compares Benesch 0796; wash added later; perhaps represents a dilapidated cottage in the area of het Gooi); Exh. Leiden-Kassel, 2006, no.19, repr.; Schwartz, 2006, p.16, repr. p.7; Slive, 2009, p.149, repr. fig.12.4; Hamburg, 2011, no.853, repr. (c.1639; as Benesch; records rejection by Lugt and Stechow in Kunsthalle Hamburg archives and Bevers at 2008 symposium in Hamburg [on basis of comparison with Benesch 0464]);[3] Exh. Amsterdam, 2012, p.124, no.90, repr.; Schatborn, 2019, p.305 and no.485, repr. (c.1640; among earliest landscape sketches, made before first landscape etchings).

PROVENANCE: ? Lambert Doomer, who made a copy after the drawing (see further main text above); Heinrich Wilhelm Campe (L. 1391); his sale (see L.2731 online) , Leipzig, Boerner, 24 September 1827, lot 1184, bt Georg Ernst Harzen (L. 1244), 2 Tlrs, 21 Gr, by whom bequeathed to the city of Hamburg in 1863; transferred to the present repository on its foundation in 1869.

[1] See Literature (Hamburg, 2011), for contrary opinions, held by Lugt, Stechow and Bevers, the latter on the basis of a comparison with Benesch 0464 (he preferred an attribution to Gerbrand van den Eeckhout). Also noted is the fact that Schatborn, who supports the attribution to Rembrandt, compared Benesch 0423 in an email to Hamburg in 2008.

[2] See Schatborn, 1977.I, p.49, repr. fig.1.

[3] Online version of the text at https://www.hamburger-kunsthalle.de/sammlung-online/rembrandt-harmensz-van-rijn/ziehbrunnen-vor-einem-bauernhaus# (accessed 22 January 2020).

First posted 23 January 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0462a

Subject: Two Cottages, with Two Trees and a Cart

Medium: Pen and brown (iron-gall) ink, heightened and corrected with white, on paper prepared light brown; ruled framing lines in pen and brown ink.

150 x 191.

COMMENTS: The technique of iron-gall ink places the drawing c.1638-39 (see under the documentary drawing, Benesch 0157). The style is also characteristic of these works and relates to several other landscapes of the same period and in the same medium: compare the treatment of the wood grain around the window of the nearer cottage with equivalent passages in Benesch 0462 and Benesch 0393. More generally, the studies of cottages and trees in Benesch 0794-97 are also close.[1] In the present work, the range of touch is extreme, from the heavy and bold reworking of the nearer roof, of which a more detailed underlying description remains apparent, to the exceptionally delicate diagonal hatching at the lower left section of the same cottage (see the detail illustrated). Rembrandt itemised minuscule features, including the three or four figures under the awning, as well as the wagon under repair on the right, with one wheel replaced by a strut for support. The trees and further cottage are treated less exactingly and Rembrandt used white heightening to temper the lines in the roof, which through time have become more strongly visible again.

These sketches, made in the countryside around Amsterdam, are precursors to the etchings he made near the city in 1640-41.[2]

Condition: Generally good; the whites abraded so that the covered lines remain more visible; some spots and stains (mostly top left and lower right). As usual with drawings in the same medium, the lines - especially the thicker lines - have occasionally eaten into the paper and spread, as if they had been drawn on blotting paper.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1638-39.

COLLECTION: USA New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection (inv. 1975.1.801).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.462a, repr. fig.521/551 (c.1632-33; compares Benesch 0392-93, and Benesch 0462, which he dates c.1633); Exh. Chicago-Minneapolis-Detroit, 1969-70, no.114, repr. (c.1640-45); Exh. New York, 1979; Exh. New York, 1979-80, no.28, repr.; Logan, 1980, p.58; Exh. New York, 1985; Exh. New York-Evanston, 1987-88, no.22, repr. col. pl.7 (c.1640-45); Exh. Paris, 1988-89, under no.19 (grouped with Benesch 0797 and Benesch 0795 suggesting date c.1635-38); Exh. Washington, 1990, under no.2 (c.1633-36); Exh. New York, 1991; Exh. New York, 1995-96, no.59, repr. (late 1630s; compares Benesch 0794-97 for date/style); New York, 1999, no.68, repr. (date uncertain but suggests between c.1632-36; compares Benesch 0341 verso and Benesch 0466); Plomp, 2006.I, p.17, repr. fig.20 (1640 or earlier); Schatborn, 2019, p.305 and no.490, repr. (c.1640; among earliest landscape sketches, made before first landscape etchings).

PROVENANCE: Sale, London, Sotheby's, 30 June 1948, lot 147, bt P.& D. Colnaghi & Co.; Schaeffer Galleries, New York; Rosenberg and Stiebel, New York, from whom purchased by Robert Lehman in 1965.

[1] Many drawings might be compared – see under Literature for other suggested comparisons that have been suggested.

[2] Such as the three etchings of 1641, The Windmill (Bartsch 233; NH 200), the Landscape with a Cottage and Haybarn (Bartsch 225; NH 199), and the Landscape with Cottage and a Large Tree (Bartsch 226; NH 198).

First posted 27 January 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0463

Subject: A Sunlit Farmhouse with a Creeper, a Fence in the Foreground

Verso: Blank (laid down but visible in transmitted light)

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown wash; a touch of white (perhaps not original) near the right edge. Inscribed recto in graphite, lower left: “Rembrant”; inscribed on the backing paper, lower left: “P.28.24”

165 x 223. Watermark: none visible; chain lines: 28v.

COMMENTS: The same farm buildings are shown from a similar angle but closer up in Benesch 0464. The two drawings were probably made on the same day to judge from the placement of two loose planks towards the left. The greater depth of the shadows in the nearer walls in Benesch 0464 suggests that the sun had moved away from the artist (or closer, depending on which drawing was made first which is not possible to determine).[1] In Benesch 0464 much attention was given to the creeper rising from the centre.

The two drawings are among Rembrandt’s earliest and most elaborate sketches made out of doors. The degree of detail is greater than in most of the iron-gall ink landscapes of c.1638-39, which they probably pre-date, albeit marginally. Benesch 0463 in particular seems kindred stylistically to Benesch 0392 and a date c.1637 is suggested here. There can be little doubt that Rembrandt had practised sketching from nature prior to illustrating the Garden of Eden in his 1638 etching of Adam and Eve (Bartsch 28; NH 168). Prior to that his efforts in landscape are less light and airy. But few of his later drawings of his kind include such exacting detail as we encounter, for example, in the creeper (perhaps ivy or grapevine) by the chimney to the right of centre.

An aquatint after the present drawing was published by Joseph Schmidt in his Recueil d’estampes, no.2.

Condition: Slightly discoloured, especially at top right and along the lower edge; a nick in the paper near upper left edge; backed; slightly foxed (though less than Benesch 0464).

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1637?

COLLECTION: H Budapest, Szépművészeti Múzeum (inv. 1577).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Weigel, 1865, no.7642; Dutuit, 1885, no.88; Schönbrunner and Meder, 1896-1908, V, no.549; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.1393; Térey, 1909, repr. pl.25; Dodgson, 1910, p.99 ('drawn with loving care'); Exh. Budapest, 1911, no.71; Meller, 1915, LX, n.2; Benesch, 1924, p.256 (see also Benesch, 1925); Benesch, 1925, pp.121-23, repr. fig.4 (repeating article published in Hungarian in Ars Una, 1924); Hell, 1930, p.40; Exh. Budapest, 1932, no.153; Exh. Budapest, 1934, no.70; Benesch, 1935, p.24; Exh. Budapest, 1936, no.94; Exh. Budapest, 1950, no.54; Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.463, repr. fig.523/552 (c.1636); Van Regteren Altena, 1955, p.120; Exh. Amsterdam-Rotterdam, 1956, suppl. no.95a; Vayer, 1957, no.74; Benesch, 1960, no.23, repr.; Scheidig, 1962, p.40, no.22; Exh. Budapest, 1965, no.43; Exh. Budapest, 1967, no.103; Benesch, 1970, p.48; Exh. Budapest, 1974, no.46; Bernhard, 1976, no.194; Haak, 1976, no.20; Sumowski, 1979, etc., IV, 1981, under no.1046xx; Exh. Washington-Chicago-Los Angeles, 1985, under no.76 (c.1636); Gerszi, 1988, under no.76; Exh. Washington, 1990, no.3, repr.; Royalton-Kisch, 1992, repr. fig.9; Exh. Vienna, 1993, under no.43 (comparing Benesch 0800); Exh. Vienna, 2004, under nos.151-52 (as Exh. Vienna, 1993 and also relating to Benesch 0464); Budapest, 2005, no.204, repr.; Exh. Budapest, 2006, pp.40-42, and no.36, repr. p.42 (c.1635-36); Exh. Milwaukee, 2005-6, under no.29; Schatborn, 2019, p.305 and no.492, repr. (c.1640; among earliest landscape sketches, made before first landscape etchings).

PROVENANCE: Nowohratsky-Kollowrath; Prince Niklaus Esterházy (L.1965; inv.28. 18 as Rembrandt); in 1870 purchased with his collection for the Hungarian State and subsequently housed in the National Gallery [Országos Képtár] (L.2000), from which transferred to the present repository.

[1] Benesch, 1954, under no.0464, argued that the present drawing was made first.

First posted 29 January 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0464

Subject: A Sunlit Farmhouse with a Creeper

Verso: See Inscriptions

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown wash. Inscribed in graphite, lower left: 'Rembrant' ; and verso, lower left, in graphite: “1576/p.28.23ª”

164 x 226. Watermark: fragment – the top of a lily in crowned shield (comparable to Heawood 1768-69); chain lines: 27v (14-15 laid lines/cm).

COMMENTS: See the note to Benesch 0463.

Condition: Good; some foxing.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1637?

COLLECTION: H Budapest, Szépművészeti Múzeum (inv.1576).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Weigel, 1865, no.7643; Schönbrunner and Meder, 1896-1908, V, no.649; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.1394; Térey, 1909, repr. pl.26; Dodgson, 1910, p.99, repr. pl.II.2; Exh. Budapest, 1911, no.69; Meller, 1915, LX, n.2; Benesch, 1924, p.256 (see also Benesch, 1925);; Benesch, 1925, pp.122-23 (repeating article published in Hungarian in Ars Una, 1924); Hell, 1930, p.40; Exh. Budapest, 1932, no.151; Exh. Budapest, 1934, no.66; Benesch, 1935, p.24; Exh. Budapest, 1936, no.92; Benesch, 1947, no.74, repr.; Exh. Budapest, 1950, no.52; Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.464, repr. fig. 524/464 (c.1636; drawn after Benesch 0463); Exh. Amsterdam-Rotterdam, 1956, suppl. no.96b, repr. fig.75 (c.1635-39); Neumann, 1957, p.9; Vayer, 1957, no.72; Bauch, 1960, p.262; Scheidig, 1962, p.40, no.23; Exh. Budapest, 1965, no.45; Exh. Vienna, 1967, no.77, repr.; Exh. Budapest, 1967, no.105; Exh. Amsterdam, 1969, no.47; Exh. Leningrad-Moscow, 1970, no.83; Bernhard, 1976, no.175; Gerszi, 1976, no.40; Exh. Washington-Chicago-Los Angeles, 1985, no.76, repr. (c.1636); Gerszi et al., 1988, no.76; Exh. Washington, 1990, under no.3, repr. fig.1; Lee, 1992, p.210, n.39 (c.1636; precision of execution in early drawings); Exh. Vienna, 1993, under no.43 (compares contrasts with Benesch 0800); Exh. Budapest, 1999, no.88; Exh. Vienna, 2004, no.152, repr. (c.1636); Budapest, 2005, no.203, repr. (c.1635-36; drawn within a matter of hours and unusually similar for Rembrandt; focus on light and shade and thus resembles Rembrandt’s early landscape paintings); Exh. Budapest, 2006, pp.40-42, and no.34, repr. p.41 (c.1635-36); Schatborn, 2019, p.305, no.491, repr. (c.1640; among earliest landscape sketches, made before first landscape etchings).

PROVENANCE: Nowohratsky-Kollowrath; Prince Niklaus Esterházy (L.1965 and L.1966; inv.28. 23a as Rembrandt); in 1870 purchased with his collection for the Hungarian State and subsequently housed in the National Gallery [Országos Képtár] (L.2000), from which transferred to the present repository.

First posted 29 January 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0465

Subject: Landscape with Cattle Being Milked

Verso: Blank

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown wash, touched with white (in the knee of the nearest cow, by the tail); ruled framing lines in pen and greyish brown ink (largely trimmed away); a streak of gold suggests the drawing was once laid down on an eighteenth-century mat. Inscribed verso, top centre, in pen and brown ink (by Dr Johannes Furnerius): “'Rembrandt van Rijn” and lower left, in a darker ink, with a symbol resembling “&” (see also Dutuit, 1885 under Literature below for a possible further inscription, now missing)

135 x 226. Watermark: none; chain lines: 27/28v (laid lines: 15/cm).

COMMENTS: The drawing has recently become controversial having been not entirely implausibly attributed to Gerbrand van den Eeckhout.[1] It is true that in some areas – the scrolls in the distance on the right (cf. Benesch 0147 – see Fig.a) and in the calligraphic penwork and the wash used for the background trees to the left (cf. Benesch 0146) there are overlaps with Van den Eeckhout’s work, and the compiler has occasionally gravitated towards this attribution in the past (though without conviction). Yet Benesch 0465 is marked by a coherence and an originality in the composition, as well as by a degree of precision in the foreground details, that is atypical of Van den Eeckhout both in the refinement of the specifics of the scene and in the deft exactitude of each line: every mark “sits” in its correct place in perspective and describes the lie of the land convincingly and fluently. These characteristics, especially in combination, diverge from Van den Eeckhout’s certain drawings of any period, with their freer but less tightly controlled penmanship.

Some details are here illustrated with works attributed both to the latter (Figs.a-b; Fig.a includes a detail from a drawing by Rembrandt, Benesch 0801) and to Rembrandt (Figs.c-d), with some further commentary in the captions (which should be counted as part of the catalogue entry); and on balance the connections with Rembrandt seem more convincing. Van den Eeckhout imitated Rembrandt’s style closely during his time in Rembrandt’s studio from c.1635-40, but his stylistic personality remains detectable in his more calligraphic touch and less precise (and more schematic) forms.

The accurate description of the details, especially at the lower right, suggests that the drawing was made from the motif - a notion which again has been challenged.[2] That one of the cows, in the centre, resembles one on the right in an engraving after Rubens by Schelte à Bolswert (Figs.e-f) does not negate this idea, as the pose in profil perdu became a locus classicus in depictions of cattle and other animals, including those invented by such luminaries of the genre as Abraham Bloemaert, and later Jan Van Goyen (Fig.g),Paulus Potter (Figs h-i), Aelbert Cuyp, Karel Dujardin, Nicolaes Berchem and Adriaen van de Velde.[3] The lighting of the beast differs entirely from the Rubens and the fine lines Rembrandt employed do not appear to have taken their cue directly from the print. In addition, the evenly outlined figures in the drawing resemble, for example, those under the awning in Benesch 0462a (cf. the detail illustrated under that number) and in Benesch 0800 (see fig.d). The idea that Rembrandt may have been inspired by Rubens’ composition is a useful contribution to the analysis of the present work but characteristically, Rembrandt has transformed the scene from an idyllic and idealised pastoral landscape into a windswept reality. Other precursors in general terms may be found in such works as Lucas van Leyden's engraving of a Milkmaid from 1510 (Bartsch 158; NH 158) and the etched Landscape with a Farmhouse, usually attributed to Jacques de Gheyn, in which a similarly posed cow apears (NH 7, where the attribution is rejected).

Presumably the drawing was made in the environs of Amsterdam and dates, like Benesch 0463-64, from c.1637. Like them, it belongs among Rembrandt’s earliest landscape studies (see further under Benesch 0463).

Condition: Trimmed slightly irregularly but generally good, with some overall discolouration; a nick at top left corner; a greenish-blue spot, upper left; some foxmarks (a large one above the cow on the right).

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1637?

COLLECTION: D Berlin, Staatliche Museen Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett (L.1607; inv.2314).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Amtliche Berichte, 1881, col.lxxxiii; Dutuit, 1885, p.80 (records now lost signature/inscription: “R.H. 1660?”); Lippmann, I, no.32; Michel, 1893, p.573; Seidlitz, 1894, p.125 (attribution uncertain); Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.164 (c.1635-40); Berlin, 1910, no.276; Freise, Lilienfeld and Wichmann, 1914, no.154 (c.1638-40); [Lugt, 1924 MS card index kept at the RKD, The Hague, no.4236 (perhaps autograph)]; Benesch, 1925, p.123 (c.1636-38); Berlin, 1930, p.236 (c.1635); Exh. Berlin, no.245 (c.1635); Lugt, 1930 (questionable attribution); Paris, 1931, p.60 (after 1635); Wichmann, 1940, no.33 (c.1639); Benesch, 1947, p.23, under no.75 (compares Benesch 0471); Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.465, repr. and under no.472 (c.1636; compares Benesch 0471-72); Exh. Berlin, 1956, no.73 (c.1636); Slive, 1965, no.32 (c.1637-40); Schatborn, 1975-76, p.38 (on the verso inscription, found also on Benesch C41); Schatborn, 1981, p.18 (as Schatborn, 1975-76); Larsen, 1983, p.82, repr. fig.16 (c.1635-36); Amsterdam, 1985, under no.15, n.3 (close in date to Benesch 0393); Cohn, 1990, p.86; Exh. Washington, 1990, under no.73 (as Benesch, 1954/73); Lee, 1992, p.210 (c.1636; compares Benesch 0464); Royalton-Kisch, 1992, pp.116-18 (c.1638; from nature); Haarlem, 1997, under no.325 (c.1640, as Benesch 0473); Hamburg, 2011, under no.853, n.5 (quoting Bevers’ opinion that the drawing is by Van den Eeckhout); Berlin, 2018, no.65 (as attributed to Van den Eeckhout, comparing Benesch 0147, Benesch 0417, Benesch 0393, Benesch 0470-72, Benesch 0474, Sumowski nos.601-2 and Berlin KdZ 13742 [Berlin, 2018, no.63, repr.]; somewhat forced and stiff, lacking stylistic freedom of Benesch 0463-63, Benesch 0466 and Benesch 0800; not drawn from nature [pace Royalton-Kisch, 1992] as dependent – also in its style - on a Rubens design known through an engraving by Bolswert, Hollstein 323); Schatborn, 2019, no. 493, repr. (c.1640).

PROVENANCE: Dr Johannes Furnerius (d.1668; see verso inscription; he was the father of the artist, Abraham Furnerius);[4] Jonathan Richardson, sen. (L.2183); John Viscount Hampden; his sale, London, Sotheby’s, 27 June, 1827 and following days, second day, lot 132, £7-10s;[5] Lady Bentinck (according to Exh. London, 1835); Thomas Lawrence (L.2445); William Esdaile (L.2617; see further under Benesch 0286); Charles Sackville Bale; his sale, London, Christie’s, 9 June, 1881 and following days, lot 2419, where acquired by the present repository.

[1] See Berlin, 2018, no.65.

[2] Loc. cit..

[3] For Bloemaert, compare Roethlisberger, 1993, nos 51, 136 and other prints after his work. For Potter, see Figs.g-h and the painting of Four Bulls, in Turin (Hofstede de Groot, 1911, no.42, which includes a similar animal seen from the rear), as also his Cattle in a Field (ibid., no.42, sold New York, Sotheby’s, New York, 26 January, 2006, lot 21, repr.); for Van Goyen his drawing of c.1626-27 in the British Museum sketchbook (here Fig.g; inv. 1946,0713.1076.19; see Van Eeghen, 1997, p.160, repr. fig.9); for Cuyp, see such paintings as the Seated Shepherd with Cows and Sheep in a Meadow of c.1644, now in the Ashmolean Museum Oxford (inv.WA2004.123) or the Landscape with Cattle and Milkmaid in the Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St Louis (inv. WU 3811); for Karel Dujardin, see his Cowherd with an Ox and Cow, of 1658 (Bartsch/Hollstein 30); for Berchem, see his Three Resting Cows (Bartsch/Hollstein 3); for Adriaen van de Velde see his Standing Bull (Bartsch/Hollstein 3) and his Two Cows under a Tree of 1670 (Bartsch/Hollstein 13).

[4] The collector, identified by the handwriting of the verso inscription, to be discussed in a forthcoming article in Master Drawings. See also Exh. Amsterdam-Paris, 2015-16, p. 80, under no. 30.

[5] The compiler discovered this reference in 2000 and passed it to Holm Bevers, who published it in Berlin, 2018.

First posted 31 January 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0466

Subject: Two Cottages with Figures

Verso: Panorama, with Man Standing on a Road near Sint Annaparochie

Medium: Silverpoint on vellum prepared in ivory-grey (on both recto and verso; the broad preparation, applied both in horizontal and vertical strokes on both sides; the result a little uneven, but generally smooth and never transparent); some traces of black chalk (lower left of recto and verso); a ruled line in pen and brown ink down the left edge may have been a later framing line (recto only).

108 x 193. Watermark: none (vellum).

COMMENTS: See under the two related sheets, Benesch 0341 and Benesch 0427. As there noted, recent researches have revealed that these three small drawings in silverpoint on vellum were probably all made in June 1633, the date on Benesch 0427.[1] They may have belonged to the same sketchbook (or set of sketchbooks), although the slight variation in the preparatory colour of Benesch 0427 has engendered some caution on this point.[2] The rarity of silverpoint drawings in the 1630s – indeed, throughout the seventeenth century – has led to the suggestion that Rembrandt may have used the older leaves from a much older sketchbook.[3]

The silverpoint drawings record the artist’s trip to the area of Friesland that was until recently called Het Bildt; and in particular, to the small town of Sint Annaparochie, where Saskia attended the baptism of her niece, Sophia van Loo, on 2 June, 1633. This was presumably the spur to the journey, during which Rembrandt accompanied Saskia and formally became engaged to her (see under Benesch 0427). The verso of Benesch 0466 probably represents Sint Annaparochie in the left distance, with its church (demolished in 1682 and replaced on the same site by the still-existing Van Harenskerk). Near the right edge rises the spire of the church at the village of Vrouwenparochie (demolished and rebuilt in 1670; see the map, Figs.a-b),[4] while the farmstead among trees to the right of centre is perhaps that marked “Vogel” on the same chart. The old church of Sint Annaparochie is where Rembrandt and Saskia married just over a year later, on 2nd July 1634 (but on 22nd June 1634 according to the Julian calendar then still in use in Friesland).

While it is theoretically possible that the silverpoint landscape sketches could date from Rembrandt’s later trips to the area in 1634 and 1635 (see under Benesch 0341), the 1633 date is supported not only by the inscription on the Portrait of Saskia (Benesch 0427) but also by the style: close analogies exist with the backgrounds of some of Rembrandt’s etchings of the same or even the previous year, including the Rat-Catcher of 1632 (Bartsch 121; NH 111; detail repr. Fig.c; compare the cottage with the recto of the drawing [and the verso of Benesch 0341] and the more distant trees with the verso) and the Persian of the same year (Bartsch 152; NH 110).

The low viewpoint of both sides of the sheet suggests that in both cases the artist may have been seated in a barge as he drew them. The lines were drawn with two different styluses (or the two ends of the same instrument): the thinner point was used for much or even all of the verso, but makes a brief appearance on the recto in the minuscule, third figure to the right of the cottages.[5] In composition and style both drawings on the sheet resemble Jan van Goyen’s (1596-1656) notations from nature of the 1620s-30s (see Figs d-e) to such an extent that the possibility that he received some instruction from his older (and fellow Leiden-born) contemporary cannot be excluded.[6] Rembrandt’s silverpoint sketches of the landscape and cottages are among his earliest surviving landscape sketches (though see Benesch 0057a). Apart from Van Goyen and a few other Dutch landscape specialists (such as Pieter Molijn and Jacob van Ruisdael), the deft but sketchy informality of Rembrandt’s two studies is hard to parallel before the nineteenth century.[7] There is, however, an etching of the Rembrandt school which is comparable in style to the verso here (see Fig.f),[8] and comparisons have been made with Rembrandt’s landscape drawings etchings of the 1640s-50s (see Literature below).

For a list of all Rembrandt’s drawings on vellum, see under Benesch 0433.

Condition: The recto somewhat discoloured to a darker grey, and rubbed or frayed at the edges; a small nick out of bottom left corner; a few flaked losses of the ground in the left cottage. The verso also stained; the bottom quarter was until recently not exposed and this is evident: the ground is thin – perhaps rubbed - in this lower area. (It is possible that it was already rubbed earlier.)[9]

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1633.

COLLECTION: D Berlin, Staatliche Museen Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett (L.1632 printed in brown; inv. KdZ 2317 [formerly 102-1881]).[10]

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Amtliche Berichte, 1881, col. lxxxii-lxxxiii (on the acquisition for Berlin; the verso then considered the recto); Lippmann, I, 13-14; Michel, 1893, p.573; Von Seidlitz, 1894, p.121; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.169; Hind, 1912, I, p.58; Freise, Lilienfeld and Wichmann, 1914, nos.159-60; Bode, 1915, cols 221-22 (the leaves of Rembrandt’s silverpoint studies perhaps from an older sketchbook); Neumann, 1918, nos 24-25 (as black chalk); Benesch, 1925, p.123 (c.1636-37); Weisbach, 1926, p.414015 and 603; Van Dyke, 1927, p.28; Berlin, 1930, p.236, repr. pl.173 (c.1635; compares Benesch 0341 verso); Exh. Berlin, 1930, no.246 (c.1635); Hell, 1930, p.40; Lugt, 1931, p.60; Hind, 1932, p.79 (c.1633); Benesch, 1935, p.24 (c.1636); Wichmann, 1940, no.11 (c.1633); Weski, 1942, pp.171-72 and 191 (mid-1630s); Schinnerer, 1944, nos.71-72 (c.1640); Benesch, 1947, under no.21; Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.466, repr. figs 526 and 528/555-56 (c.1636; follows Exh. Berlin 1930 comparison with Benesch 0341 verso, with its similar cottage; compares Benesch 0470; verso compared with Benesch 0471-72); Exh. Berlin, 1956, no.61 (c.1635); Slive, 1965, nos 13-14 (c.1635); Exh. Berlin, 1968, no.13 (c.1635-36); Hamann, 1969, pp.302 and 454 (c.1635); Amsterdam, 1985, under no.32 (c.1635); Rotterdam, 1988, under no.11, recto repr. fig.a (c.1636-37); Exh. Washington, 1990, no.1 (c.1633; houses of a type found in north-east Holland and in Friesland); Royalton-Kisch, 1990, p.135 (c.1633); Schneider, 1990, pp.30-31 [recto] and 99-100 [verso] (sees echo of the verso in etched View of Amsterdam, Bartsch 210; NH 203); Van der Wetering, 1991, p.221 (discusses prepared sketchbooks - ‘tafeletten’); Exh. Berlin-Amsterdam-London, 1991-92, under no.3 (c.1635); Exh. London, 1992, under no.33, n.4 (1633); Royalton-Kisch, 1992, pp.117-18 (c.1633; verso similar to Van Goyen); Van de Wetering, 1997, pp.47 and 70-72 (as in 1991; c.1636); Exh. Amsterdam, 1998, p.16, repr.; (c.1635); Sell, 1998, p.53; Exh. Amsterdam-Paris, 1998-99, p.30, n.48; Broos, 2005, pp.84-87, repr. figs 6-7 (1633; identifies location of verso); Berlin, 2006, no.6, repr.(c.1633-35; compares Benesch 0427; other point summarised in main text above); Broos, 2009.I, p.50, verso repr. fig. 7; Broos, 2012, pp.36, 39 and 143, repr. figs.IX-1/2 (1633; as Broos 2006; identifies site of verso); Schatborn, 2019, pp.19, 305 and nos.481-82, repr. (c.1635); Exh. Leiden-Oxford, 2019-20, pp.72-73, repr. figs 94-95 (1633); This Catalogue online, 6 February 2020 (c.1633).

PROVENANCE: Jonathan Richardson, sen. (L.2183 - the mark, with the palette, has taken badly, lower right of both recto and verso, but the three brush-ends at its upper left are clear); Joshua Reynolds (L.2364, verso);[11] William Esdaile (L.2617);[12] Charles Sackville Bale; his sale, London, Christie’s, 9 June, 1881, lot 2434; acquired in 1881 by the present repository.

[1] See under Benesch 0427, n.1. Broos, 2005, passim.

[2] Berlin, 2006, under no.6.

[3] Bode, 1915, cols 221-22.

[4] Broos, 2005 and 2012, passim., who also illustrated the map.

[5] As noted in Berlin, 2006, no.6, which refers to a scientific study having been undertaken.

[6] The drawings illustrated are from the sketchbook in the British Museum, Popham, 1935, pp.186-86 (and now online); see also Beck, 1972-91, pp.257-64, no. 844; Van Eeghen, 1997, pp.155-181.

[7] For a history of informal landscape sketching, see Exh. Antwerp-London, 1999, pp.31-54.

[8] Bartsch 206. Included as Rembrandt by Bartsch, but White and Boon, 1969, p.178, no. 206, rejected it, though compared Rembrandt’s (and Lievens’) early landscape drawings. Münz, 1952, no. 354, suggested an attribution to Roelant Roghman (1627-92).

[9] See Berlin, 2006, under no.6, nn.1-2.

[10] Or else 102-1881 (according to my notes).

[11] The verso has sometimes been regarded as the recto, and vice-versa. Reynolds’ mark was affixed to the verso of sheets that his executors valued at less than 5d but in this case they probably considered that they were marking the recto (see Exh. London, 1978, under no.269).

[12] Almost all of Esdaile’s Rembrandt drawings came from Thomas Lawrence’s collection (see under Benesch 0286) but his mark is not visible (possibly rubbed away).

First posted 6 February 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0467

Subject: A Farmhouse with a Figure at the Door

Verso: See Inscriptions

Medium: Black chalk; ruled framing lines in black chalk (visible mainly down the right side). Inscribed, lower left corner, in graphite: 'I' and verso, upper right, in black chalk: “31-24” [?]; in black chalk, centre, by Hofstede de Groot: “fnj.oa” (handwriting similar to Benesch 1222 also in the Rijksmuseum)

132 x 180. Watermark: possibly has a mark (including a circle?) but not clear; chain lines: 30-32h; 13/14 laid lines/cm.

COMMENTS: This neglected and even deprecated drawing, often questioned, is indeed somewhat unprepossessing and the objections raised concerning its attribution to Rembrandt appear reasonable.[1] As has been pointed out, the shadowing in the centre seems heavy, while the details of the outbuildings to the right, where the perspective is unconvincing and the details poorly realised - the door, windows and the ladder leaning against the wall - look as though they might have been touched in by a later, weaker hand. The building towards the left margin also seems unremarkable in quality, to say the least.

Where the buildings to the right are concerned, as any practitioner of landscape drawing in a sketchbook knows, sometimes the gutter, to the right or left depending on whether the artist is drawing on the right or left leaf (here the artist was apparently drawing on the left folio, with the gutter to the right), can be so tightly bound as to be almost impenetrable by a drawing implement. The lower of the two lines describing the roof on the right finally skips in a south-easterly direction for its last few millimetres in a way that is typical of the problem. The poor aesthetic effect of this area is also exacerbated by the condition of the sheet, which is stained by some probably accidental touches of brownish grey pigment (above the ladder and by the roof above this) and some foxing and other discolouration of the paper. Thus the gutter might possibly explain, at least in part, the infelicities in this section of the drawing, and the idea that the details were touched in or reinforced by a later hand cannot be discounted.[2]

The buildings to the left, with the significant pentimento in the outermost part of the roof, do not inspire complete confidence in an attribution to Rembrandt, either. Yet, they are closer to his work than to any other artist: a comparison with Benesch 0819 in the same collection suggests strongly that the chalks, at least, are identical, and the style, as can be seen in our mosaic illustration (Fig.a) has too many points of comparison to allow the complete de-attribution of one of them: both have soft underdrawings with many vertical, parallel lines, overlaid with much bolder interventions that complete the image. This procedure is typical of many of Rembrandt’s drawings in all media. In this case the affinities between the drawings seems rather persuasive.

The last main objections are that “in terms of perspective, the architecture of the building is rather odd […] the way in which the scene is lit is also unusual. Only the house with the door is in deep shadow, and the multi-directional hatching does little to clarify the forms (e.g. the shape of the roof is not precisely rendered). The weak composition and odd use of light make an attribution to Rembrandt impossible.”[3] Again, there is no denying the infelicities in the wall and house to the right; but the description of the central, covered area in shadow, though laboured, is not unsuccessful and the short hatching lines follow the lie of the forms of the structure. The somewhat crude figure and the network of dense hatching are not unlike those found in the earlier depiction of a covered area in Benesch 0462a (see Fig.2 for the detail); for the density of the work, compare also the centre of Benesch 1255.

Thus there are reasons to support an attribution to Rembrandt, including also the near-abstraction of the tree at the left edge (compare Benesch 1276) and the breadth of the shadows in the lower foreground. A reasonable assessment here might be that the sketch was begun by a pupil, and then completed in firmer, darker lines, by Rembrandt, to demonstrate various possible approaches to his student. The medium and style suggest a date in the later 1640s or around 1650 – compare the shading in the British Museum drawing of Three Orientals in Discussion (see the Not in Benesch tab, c.1647-52, inv. 1986,1213.2).

Condition: A large spot near the centre; slightly foxed and overall a little yellowish, probably a time stain.

Summary attribution: School of Rembrandt, retouched by Rembrandt.

Date: c.1647-50.

COLLECTION: NL Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum (L.2228; inv. RP-T-1930-65).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Exh. The Hague, 1902, no.55; Exh. Leiden, 1903, no.9; Exh. Leiden, 1906, no.94; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no. 1311; Exh. Amsterdam, 1913, no.89; Exh. Leiden, 1916, no.23 (c.1635); Hirschmann, 1917, p.20 (1630s); Seidlitz, 1917, p.253; Exh. The Hague, 1930, no.62 (c.1635); Benesch, 1935, p.24; Wimmer, 1935, pp. 61 and 69 (not Rembrandt); Amsterdam, 1942, no.110 (not Rembrandt); Benesch, II, 1954/73, no. 467 (c. 1636; additions by a later hand; compares Benesch 0341 verso, Benesch 0466 recto and verso and Benesch 0468-70); Foucart., 1966, p.50, n.12; Amsterdam, 1985, no. 112, repr. (not Rembrandt; paper might suggest later 17th century); Amsterdam, 2017 [online 2018, hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.28634 (accessed 8 February 2020)] (repeats Amsterdam, 1985); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Paul Mathey (1844-1929); purchased from the dealer P. Roblin, Paris, as Rembrandt, with six other drawings, by Dr Cornelis Hofstede de Groot (1863-1930) 1901, by whom donated to the museum, 1906, but with usufruct until 1930; transferred to the museum, 1930.

[1] Amsterdam, 1985, no.112, in which Schatborn also notes the earlier objections of Wimmer, 1935, and of Henkel in Amsterdam, 1942 (see Literature above).

[2] Retouchings were detected by Benesch, 1954/73 (see Literature). The gutter problem may have affected a few other drawings by Rembrandt, including Benesch 0809 (on the left), Benesch 0811 (on the right, where it appears to have been trimmed to disguise the effect), Benesch 0813 (on the far right) and Benesch 1276 (curtailed on the left).

[3] Schatborn in Amsterdam, 1985 and Amsterdam, 2017 (online) – see Literature above. He also feels the paper might be later as it is thick and the chain lines are widely spaced but this is not unknown in Rembrandt’s own drawings.

First posted 10 February 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0468

Subject: Two Dutch Barges

Verso: Laid down

Medium: Black chalk, heightened with white.

141 x 159. Watermark: none visible; chain lines: 25h.

COMMENTS: This common type of barge (in Dutch often referred to over-generically and somewhat deprecatingly as a “schuit”, or more specifically as a “boeijer/boeier”), like all barges, had a shallow draught and was used primarily to transport cargo and passengers in coastal waters (and on the Zuiderzee) as well as along rivers. The leeboard visible in the centre of the hull could be stowed or, as here, lowered in order to increase buoyancy on the leeward side - and thus stability - and would have been paired with another leeboard on the starboard flank.[1] The furling of the sails, still in action on the second, larger boat, suggests that the barges are at a quayside or at anchor, but the empty and perhaps unfinished foreground leaves the precise situation somewhat unclear and an anchor still sits on the bows of the nearer ship. The small dinghy at the back appears to be in the water and tethered to the further boat, the stern and rudder of which emerge beyond it. What appears to be a line is tied to the short pole behind the figure on the further barge; but the pole may have been between the two craft and where the line - which could simply describe the tiller - actually ends is again uncertain: it may continue as the line that stops abruptly on the extreme right (see the detail).

While the drawing convinces, via a comparison with many other sketches, as the work of Rembrandt, its analogies with drawings from many periods from c.1629-1647 make it difficult to date – compare such early drawings as Benesch 0006 (for the figure and shading) and Benesch 0033 of c.1628-29, Benesch 0193 of c.1635 for the shading, along with Benesch 0276 and Benesch 0369 for the use of a finre-tipped clack chalk (also of c.1635), as well as Benesch 0382 verso of c.1641-46 for the figure. The majority of Rembrandt’s black chalk drawings may be dated to the period c.1645-49 and the date given here, c.1645, is assigned a question mark to flag the problem.

Condition: Light struck, leading to a general discolouration; small yellow stains to left and right and other dirt at the right edge; otherwise good.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1645?

COLLECTION: A Vienna, Albertina (L.174; inv. 17561).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Schönbrunner and Meder, 1896-1908, X, no.1087, repr.; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no. 1470; Exh. Amsterdam, 1935, no.39; Benesch, 1935, p.24; Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.468, repr. fig.527/560(compares Benesch 0467 and Benesch 0469, especially the reflections in the latter); Exh. Stockholm, 1956, no.100; Exh. Rotterdam-Amsterdam, 1956, no.49, repr. fig.25; Exh. Vienna, 1956, no.22; Exh. Vienna, 1969-70, no.11; Exh. New York, 1997, no.56, repr.; Exh. Bilbao-Vienna, 1999, no.28, repr.; Exh. Vienna, 2004, no.154, repr.; Exh. Milwaukee 2005-2006, no.31, repr.; Schatborn, 2019, p.19, no.513, repr. (c.1647). Vienna online (http://sammlungenonline.albertina.at/?query=Inventarnummer=[17561]&showtype=record ; accessed 11 February 2020).

PROVENANCE: Kaiserliche Hofbibliothek, Vienna; Herzog Albert von Sachsen-Teschen (Lugt 174).

[1] Bisanz-Prakken was the first to specify the type of boat represented (Exh. New York, 1997, no.56), which was very common. For a depiction of one under sail, with its windward leeboard raised, see, for example, folio 62 of the album of watercolour miniatures by Adriaen van de Venne in the British Museum (inv. 1978,0624.42.61; Royalton-Kisch, 1988, f.62, repr.).

First posted 12 February 2020.

 

 

 

Benesch 0469

Subject: Two Horses Pulling a Waggon Loaded with People

Verso: Blank

Medium: Black chalk; traces of freehand framing lines in the same chalk. Inscribed below in what appears to be the same chalk as the drawing: “Rembrandt f 1636 ”[uncertain if there is a final full-stop]; lower right, in pen and brown ink, old inventory no.: “5106” and lower left, in blue: “79”; on verso, in purple ink: “Inv. No. 1401”

162 x 143. Watermark: Coat-of-arms, probably a fragment of the Arms of Baden Hochberg without a crown (like, for example, Benesch 1256 of c.1645; cf., for type, Laurentius catalogue, p.77, fig.123).; chain lines: 26h (laid lines c.15/cm).

COMMENTS: Like Benesch 0468 (qv), which it resembles in the areas of deep shadow and in the diminutive figure(s), the drawing is difficult to date. Again, there are links with Benesch 0006 recto in the figures, while the bushes and tree to the left exhibit (respectively) somewhat simplistic jottings and dancing outlines (reminiscent of the style of drawings attributed to Rembrandt’s pupil, Govert Flinck, as in Benesch 0193A and Sumowski 914x verso in the Metropolitan Museum, inv.47.127.1). But the sketchy yet accurate delineation of the horses and cart-load of people seems entirely characteristic of Rembrandt, with the horses verging on caricature as they drag their heavy load over the bridge, heads bowed and straining every sinew.

Then there is the “signature” with the date, 1636, which although accepted by some writers in the past as autograph (including by Benesch – see Literature) can in all honesty at best be described as suspect. But it could preserve a reliable tradition and as we discovered with Benesch 0468, which it resembles (as already noted) a date in the mid-1630s appears at least plausible. There is also a superficial link with the painting in Hannover of The Baptism of the Eunuch, which also has a dubious Rembrandt signature inscription that might read “1636” (Bredius 439; Corpus, III, no.C116; Not in Wetering). But here we join the two drawings together in the mid-1640s (c.1645) with a new reason that supports the possibility in the present case: the watermark, which seems to date from that period (see above).

An interesting suggestion has been made concerning the iconography: that it relates to a custom mentioned in seventeenth-century literature (in a Jacob Cats emblem, illustrated by Adriaen van de Venne, whom we have had cause to mention elsewhere as an influence on Rembrandt) of kissing one’s beloved as you cross a bridge,[1] although the laboured gait of the horses might suggest some other emblematic meaning was intended, as does the decrepit tree.[2]

Condition: Discoloured and with some staining; lower left corner repaired; other minor tears and nicks at the edges; a little rubbed.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1645?

COLLECTION: D Munich, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung (L.620; L.2723; L.2673 and L.1615; inv. 1401 [formerly 5106]).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Munich, 1884-93, no.150b; Benesch 1925, p.26; Benesch, 1935, p.24; Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.469, repr.(c.1636; compares style of Benesch 0468 and also Hannover painting mentioned in main text above, including the tree; signature and date added later but reliable); Exh. Munich, 1957, no.11; (1630s); Trautscholdt, 1957, p.162; Sumowski, 1961, p.7; Trautscholdt, 1967, p.126; Benesch, 1970, p.100; Munich, 1973, no.1107, repr. pl.308; Schatborn, 1978, p.134; Sumowski, Drawings, IV, 1981, under no.728x (early Rembrandt); Baudiquey, 1984, p.118; Exh. Munich-Amsterdam, 2001-2, no.26, repr. (1636; relates to a Jacob Cats emblem touching on the custom of kissing one’ lover as one crosses a bridge in a cart; perhaps from an album amicorum); Schatborn, 2019, no.521, repr. (c.1647).

PROVENANCE: Elector (Kurfürst) Carl Theodor (1724-1799), Munich.

[1] See Exh. Munich-Amsterdam, 2001-2, no.26, referring to Royalton-Kisch, 1988, p.104 and also to a drawing by Claes Jansz. Visscher in Cambridge, GB (Exh. Munich, 1995-96, no.30, repr.; inv. PD 73-106). Cats first published the emblem in his Spiegel van den ouden en nieuwen Tyt, of 1632, part III, emblem XLII, pp.139ff..

[2] The Van de Venne illustration shows the waggon filled with flowers, the trees in springtime and at least one couple is apparently kissing – not the case with Rembrandt’s drawing.

First posted 17 February 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0470

Subject: A Cottage and Trees by Water

Verso: Mostly laid down, but seems blank

Medium: Pen and brown (iron-gall) ink and brown wash on paper prepared brown; framing lines in pen and brown ink (perhaps a different ink).

210 x 188. Watermark: not visible; chain lines: horizontal, distance apart uncertain.

COMMENTS: The drawing is a rapid and informal sketch, set down fluidly and without hesitation and probably made on the spot, though the location has not been identified (it was probably in the environs of Amsterdam).[1] The sheet, probably once in a sketchbook, has almost certainly been cut down to an unusual square format, probably mostly on the right, bifurcating the cottage.

The technique of iron-gall ink suggests a date c.1638-39 (see under Benesch 0157). This medium was used by Rembrandt quite regularly at the end of the 1630s, but rarely for landscape drawings, of which he seems to have made rather few in these years. Others in the same medium include the equally rapidly executed landscape sketches, Benesch 0462a, Benesch 0471-73 (though their attributions are slightly less secure) and Benesch 0790-91.

Condition: Cut or trimmed both sides; slight tear near lower right corner; some cockling of paper; some fading and acidic attack from the iron-gall ink, but generally good.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1638-39.

COLLECTION: D Weimar, Goethe-Nationalmuseum (Schuch, I, 874/0009 [309/874i]).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.535; Benesch, 1935, p.24; Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.470, repr. (c.1636; compares Benesch 0466 and Benesch 0471-72); Scheidig, 1976, no.40, repr.; Exh. Weimar-Amsterdam, 1999, pp.86-87, repr. (c.1640; compares Benesch 0473 and Benesch 0790; building of a type seen in Amsterdam area); Schatborn, 2019, p.305 and no.486, repr. (c.1640; iron-gall ink; among earliest landscape sketches, made before first landscape etchings; sketchy style suggests done out of doors; cut at right)

PROVENANCE: J.W. von Goethe (L.1087).

[1] In Exh. Amsterdam, 1999, p.86, is is stated that the type of farm (with a "langhuis") was found in the area of Amsterdam.

First posted 2 April 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0471

Subject: Farmhouse Amid a Copse §

Verso: Offset from a similar drawing (not Benesch 0472)

Medium: Pen and brown (iron-gall) ink with brown wash on paper prepared light brown. Inscribed verso in graphite, upper left: “Inv.3220”

132 x 245. Watermark: none;[1] chain lines: 24v.

COMMENTS: Benesch 0471-72 clearly belong together – the paper is the same - and they probably came from a sketchbook. This supposition is supported by the verso of Benesch 471, which bears traces of an offset of a further, similar drawing, now unknown.

Despite the slightly unusual calligraphy in the delineation of much of the foliage, and the generally even pressure of the pen, the overall fluency of style, the lack of corrections and the exactness of the lines receding in perspective in Benesch 0471 all speak for Rembrandt. In the latter drawing, on the right, both the fully looped stroke below and the undulating line to the right of it lend support to the attribution, not least by the comparability of the area of the loop with passages on the left of Benesch 0462 and at the lower centre of the documentary drawing, Benesch 0482, and, for the undulating lines, with the area to the right of Benesch 0465.

The handling of the foliage, which seems somewhat unusual, might be attributed to the fact that the two drawings are among Rembrandt’s earliest studies of landscape; and it should also be observed that, particularly in Benesch 0472, the formula of lines that undulate in clumps of three or four curls returns again, just as it does in Benesch 0463-65 and Benesch 0470. These similarities outweigh the few unusual aspects of these drawings that appear to have influenced the judgment of other writers.[2]

The use of iron-gall ink places the drawings c.1638-39 (see under Benesch 0157).

Condition: Generally good; slightly worn near the top left and lower right corners; the iron-gall ink has only slightly caused acidic penetration in the paper.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1638-39.

COLLECTION: A Vienna, Akademie der Bildenden Künste (L.1628; inv.3220).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, 1935, p.24; Exh. Vienna, 1936; Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.471, repr. (c.1636; belongs with Benesch 0472; compares Benesch 0465 and Benesch 0470); Benesch, 1960, no.22, repr.; [Not in Schatborn, 2019.].

PROVENANCE: Bequest of Abbé Franz de Paula Neumann to the Kaiserliche und Königliche Hofbibliothek, 1816, and transferred to the present repository.[3]

§ NB. Benesch transposed the illustrations of Benesch 0471-72, which may cause some confusion.

[1] The compiler believes there may possibly be an illegible mark near the top centre. There appears to be no mark on the companion drawing, Benesch 0472.

[2] For reasons why, at times, drawings are likely to veer from our expectations, please see the Introduction (under the 'About' tab).

[3] I am grateful to René Schober and Viktoria Cordts for information about Neumann.

First posted 3 April 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0472

Subject: A Row of Trees in an Open Field §

Verso: Blank

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown wash on paper prepared light brown. Inscribed verso in graphite, top, left of centre: “Inv.3219”

140 x 245. Watermark: none; chain lines: 24v.

COMMENTS: See under Benesch 0471.

Condition: Generally good; some stains to lower left; a nick from the top right corner.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1638-39.

COLLECTION: A Vienna, Akademie der Bildenden Künste (inv.3219).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, 1935, p.24; Exh. Vienna, 1936; Benesch, 1947, no.75, repr.; Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.472, repr.; [Not in Schatborn, 2019.].

PROVENANCE: Bequest of Abbé Franz de Paula Neumann to the Kaiserliche und Königliche Hofbibliothek, 1816, and transferred to the present repository.

§ NB. Benesch transposed the illustrations of Benesch 0471-72, which may cause some confusion.

First posted 3 April 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0472A

Subject: Houses Among Trees

Verso: Two Women by a Garden Gate (not by Rembrandt)

Medium: Pen and brown ink (the verso with brown and grey-brown wash). Inscribed, lower right, with the inventory number.

139 x 124. Watermark: none; chain lines: 25v.

COMMENTS: The drawing of Houses Among Trees is on what has traditionally been viewed as the verso of the sheet, as is clear from the stamps on both sides and the handwritten inventory number. The two sides were used at 90 degrees from each other. The sketch on what is described here as the verso (but formerly the recto), depicting Two Women by a Garden Gate, is undistinguished enough to dismiss from Rembrandt’s oeuvre without debate.

The sketch of Houses Among Trees was drawn in three styles: it was largely executed with a fine nib in considerable detail, teasing out the particularities of tree and house and shed with flawless aplomb, with intricate passages of shading, and including the two parallel, diagonal lines that rise from the centre towards the left, perfectly conveying the lie of the land in perspective. The touch is more even than normal for Rembrandt, lacking his customary variety of pressure on the pen. In a second stage, a few broader touches were added in the trees towards the left; finally, some bold, loose strokes were added in a third stage: across the foreground (perhaps indicating a bridge?), adding an indecipherable shape on the right (where the sheet must have been cut) and a background of hills and, perhaps, a promontory, with a bay to the right.

The fine touch in the main, central part of the drawing, especially the scalloped and looped lines for the foliage, resembles that in several drawings: Benesch 0479, Benesch 0795, Benesch 0799 and Benesch 0801 (see Fig.a). For the use of fine diagonal hatching, as seen towards the left, one might compare the similar passage of hatching at the left of Benesch 0797. Because of the difference in scale, an element of doubt might remain were it not for the comparability of the foliage in Rembrandt’s etchings of the earlier 1640s (see Fig.b): there seems to be nothing so analogous in the work of Rembandt’s pupils, perhaps the closest being the drawing of Dordrecht in Chantilly, now generally regarded as the work of Bol (see the detail in Fig.c; Benesch 0802); yet it fails to sustain the same degree of precision and accuracy. Benesch 0472A is probably among Rembrandt’s earlier landscape sketches, given its tight detail, and a date c.1640, as he was beginning his first landscape etchings of note, seems probable.

The heavier-handed, broader lines that rather disfigure the drawing seem to be applied without hesitation, whatever, at times, they may have been intended to represent. In style there is a link, though not a strong one, with Rembrandt’s corrections in Benesch 0476, but some doubt must remain as to whether a later hand scrawled carelessly over the drawing.

Condition: Cut.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt (retouched by a later hand?)

Date: c.1640.

COLLECTION: D Munich, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung (L.620; L.3232; inv.1631).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, 1964, pp.119f., repr. fig.17 (reprinted Benesch, 1970, p.255, repr. fig.222); Exh. Munich, 1966-67, no.78; Benesch, II, 1973, no.472A, repr. fig.561 (c.1637; compares Benesch 0471-72); Munich, 1973, no.563, repr.. [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Elector (Kurfürst) Carl Theodor (1724-1799), Munich (L.620).

First posted 30 April 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0473

Subject: A Farmhouse by a Canal with Trees and Figures

Verso: Standing Figure with Arms Outstretched (only visible through the backing)

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown wash (the verso probably just in pen and brown ink); ruled framing line in pen and brown ink. Inscribed verso, in graphite, upper right: “f1 – 0” and centre: “A” and below this “O. 71”

106 x 228.

COMMENTS: In 1987, the compiler (in his notes) felt inclined to accept the thesis that the drawing was made by a pupil, the one shown seated in Rembrandt’s etching of c.1643-47 that shows the same farmhouse (see Figs a-c; Bartsch 219; NH 201). That figure, who wears a small, goatee beard, is seated in precisely the right location to draw the present view (Benesch 0473).[1]

Furthermore, the compiler believed that several stylistic characteristics of the drawing pointed in favour of an attribution to Ferdinand Bol: (a) the repetitious outlines of the buildings which are reiterated up to three or four times; (b) the rarely-interrupted, looping outlines for the trees and foliage in the middle distance, Bol’s drawings often being characterised by an apparent reluctance to lift his pen; (c) a superficial messiness to the drawing as a whole, when compared with comparable works undoubtedly by Rembrandt (cf. Benesch 0054a, Benesch 0393 and Benesch 0462a-0465). The schematic treatment of the figure and animal to the left, the use of wash in the sky, which is unusual for Rembrandt, and the poor legibility of other details, including the bridge on the right and the lack of clarity in the architectural construction on the far left seemed further to undermine confidence in the attribution.

Into the mix comes Benesch 0816 (Fig.d), which again shows the same farmhouse as Benesch 0473, but in greater detail – and because of what follows, the identical features of the architecture in the two drawings are worth enumerating here: from the left, the stolp (the Dutch word for a bell, describing the taller part of the building) is seen to descend more steeply on the right than on the left; the door in the right wall of it is open in Benesch 0473 and in full view in Benesch 0816; the main door, with its square-cut gable above, is in precisely the same place, with a lower door visible next to it (though only barely visible in Benesch 0473); the slight ‘kink’ in the roof where it becomes marginally lower (above and to the right of the door) is shown in both, as is the top of the post protruding above the building on the right; the two bushes or young trees to the nearer side of the building are repeated, as are the further trees immediately to the right of it; the gate on the right is also repeated; and in the centre of Benesch 0473, there are a few lines that might loosely stand for the two rails spanning the canal which are clearly delineated in Benesch 0816.

Returning to the etching (Fig.a), there are several discrepancies: (a) the trees in the foreground (left of centre) are in a new position and would have partly blocked the view of the draughtsman of Benesch 0473; (b) there is a low, arched, brick entrance into the stolp at the extreme left (see the detail in Fig.c); (c) there is a chimney at the juncture of the long roof and the stolp;[2] (d) the door into the house is placed further to the right, with a small window to the left of it, both details that diverge from the situation in the two drawings; (e) there is no descending kink in the line of the roof above and to the right of the door; (f) the print alone shows a substantial brick gable towards the right end of the wall, topped by a small chimney; (g) there is a wooden-shuttered toilet near the right end of the house; (h) instead of the flat pedimented gable at the right end of the building, seen in Benesch 0816, and the post above it, there is a second recessed gable; (i) there is no gate entrance on the right; (j) there are no tall trees beyond the area where the gate should be; (k) beyond the end of the farmhouse there appears to be a second building and not the type of hay-barn with a roof on stilts of the kind visible in Benesch 0816.

From this long catalogue of eleven significant differences, it seems clear that the building in the etching is not the same one as in the two drawings, even allowing for artist’s licence. This kind of farmhouse was very common in the Amsterdam area, as we know from many other drawings by Rembrandt and his pupils.[3] And so the draughtsman shown in the print becomes irrelevant to our assessment of Benesch 0473: he would have been drawing a different building.

Returning to Benesch 0473, we have already enumerated some characteristics that might suggest an attribution to Ferdinand Bol. Comparisons may be made between the foliage in the central bushes, with their loops and curls as well as spirals, with the foreground trees and bushes, both to the extreme left and right, in Benesch 0848, for which an attribution to Bol was suggest in 1987.[5] The same drawing also includes a small animal (horse) to the right of centre which is comparable to that in the same position in Benesch 0473.

But what might speak for Rembrandt? Three aspects of the drawing: the looping lines in the first low bush immediately to the right of the farmhouse resemble those in the right foreground of Benesch 0465 and, to a lesser extent, in parts of the foliage Benesch 0463-64, which also have some analogies with the trees on the right; the schematically-drawn figure with an animal at the bottom centre margin of the drawing, has some points in common with the figures in Benesch 0465 (the smallest figure to the right) and, on a larger scale, Benesch 0392.

But this is to clutch at straws in comparison with the analogies with Bol. The wash, however, may tell another story. In general it seems to be applied boldly; and in the stolp, the individual strokes of the brush remain visible, as they do again as they run across the foreground and in the gate to the right, which it clarifies with a few deft touches, as well as in the trees to the right, where the tip of the brush adds detail to the forms, and in the sky. Comparisons with this forthright approach may be made, for example, with Benesch 0392 and Benesch 0757. But again, Bol could also employ wash with this degree of freedom, as in his drawing of Hagar and the Angel at the Well on the Way to Shur, now in the Rijksmuseum (inv. RP-T-1930-27; repr. Sumowski 89). And the overall effect of the drawing remains flat and lacking in aerial perspective.

Taking all the above into consideration, it seems that the drawing is not by Rembrandt, but might be by Ferdinand Bol. The resemblance of the wash to some of Rembrandt's work helps explain why the attribution to Rembrandt has generally persisted, in spite of there being much evidence to countermand and so little to support it.

Condition: Generally good; minor stains towards the left edge.

Summary attribution: Ferdinand Bol?

Date: c.1637-40.

COLLECTION: NL Haarlem, Teyler Museum (L.2392; inv. O*55 [formerly R* 23 and O* 71]).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Vosmaer, 1868, p.420; Vosmaer, 1877, p.607; Michel, 1893, p.592; Haarlem, 1904, p.109; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.1332; Kleinmann, 1913, VI, pl.50; Benesch, 1935, p.24; Wimmer, 1935, p.32 (1644?); Muller, 1946, p.142; Exh. Amsterdam, 1951, no.14 (c.1641); Exh. Haarlem, 1951, no.162 (c.1641); Münz, 1952, II, p,82, under no.149; Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.473, repr. fig.533/557 (c.1639; compares landscape painting of 1639, Bredius 448 [not in Corpus/Wetering]); Exh. Rotterdam-Amsterdam, 1956, no.96 (c.1639; wrongly as from Neumann collection); Exh. Washington-New York-Minneapolis-Boston-Cleveland-Chicago, 1958-59, no.62, repr.; Sumowski, 1961, under no.816; Exh. London, 1970, no.23, repr.; Laurentius, 1985, passim., repr. (probably drawn by the student/friend shown drawing the scene in Rembrandt’s etching, Bartsch 291; the same farm shown in Benesch 816); Exh. Washington, 1990, p.86, n.1; Haarlem, 1997, no.125, repr. (c.1640, probably; verso earlier and compared with Benesch 0232, Benesch 0234 and Benesch 0242 [but these are all here dated together with the present drawing c.1638-39]); Royalton-Kisch, 1998.II, p.689 (late 1630s, like other iron-gall ink drawings; both recto and verso drawn at the same time); Schatborn, 2019, no.494, repr. (c.1640).

PROVENANCE: Acquired by the present repository before 1822.

[1] This is a summary of the arguments proposed by Laurentius, 1985.

[2] Laurentius, 1985, describes this as an addition, which though conceivable does not seem to be especially likely. He illustrates this detail, arguing that the lines show it to be added over the edge of the stolp, but this observation is not conclusive, as Rembrandt may simply have drawn it in afterwards while still describing the building as it was.

[3] For information on the type of farmhouse, see Exh. Amsterdam-Paris, 1998–9 and Exh. Washington, 1990.

[4] The drawing was already omitted by Starcky from Exh. Paris, 1988-89.

[5] Royalton-Kisch in 1987 (see ibid., 1992, pp.131-32, repr. fig.36). Since then Ketelesen, in Exh. Dresden, 2004, under no.27, suggested Abraham Furnerius, and Van Tuyll, in Exh. Paris, 2006-7, p.13, suggested Van den Eeckhout.

First posted 7 April 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0474

Subject: The Angel Leaving Tobit and his Son

Medium: Black chalk, with pen and brown ink and brown wash, heightened with white and with a section of the landscape towards the right in black chalk, on yellowish-brown paper.

350 x 530.

COMMENTS: The drawing copies a painting of 1618 by Rembrandt’s teacher, Pieter Lastman (Fig.a).[1] Apart from the trees added at the upper right in black chalk, there are very few deviations from the painting, although two extra camels were added immediately above Tobit’s shoulders.

Once regarded as Lastman’s preparatory study for the painting, which speaks for the drawing’s high quality, the lack of pentimenti makes it more likely that the drawing is a copy or derivation. The section of landscape in black chalk towards the upper right prompted Van Regteren Altena (1948-49) to attribute this area to Rembrandt, as it compares reasonably well with his black chalk landscape drawings. He suggested that Rembrandt might have done this when a pupil of Lastman, while Benesch, who agreed with this idea, felt that stylistically Rembrandt’s additions in black chalk must date from well after his apprenticeship, suggesting c.1637. Subsequently, the notion that the drawing was worked over by Rembrandt was dropped, but without supporting arguments.[2]

Comparisons with most Rembrandt’s black chalk landscape studies with trees (such as Benesch 0812, Benesch 0817 and Benesch 1255-56) is hampered by the fact that they were made from nature, while obviously, the redrawn passage in the present drawing was not. Nonetheless, the idea that Rembrandt was responsible for the re-work remains a possibility in the light of these comparisons. Closer still is the idealised landscape drawing in Frankfurt of 1642, included here as by Rembrandt (perhaps controversially) under the Not in Benesch tab, a detail of which is reproduced here as Fig. b. Clearly an ideal landscape rather than a real view, it seems likely that the trees in this drawing were not drawn directly from nature – and they resemble those in Benesch 0474 sufficiently to admit the likelihood that Rembrandt was indeed responsible for the black chalk additions (provided that one goes along with the attribution of the Frankfurt drawing). The diagonal parallel shading immediately above the added trees also resembles Rembrandt's shading in the upper section of the Frankfurt drawing; and the facture of the trees also resembles the foliage in parts of the pen and iron-gall ink drawing, Benesch 0472.

As well as having an interest in Lastman that expressed itself in the copies Rembrandt made after him in c.1635-37 (Benesch 0446-49) and in other works, Rembrandt owned two albums of drawings by Lastman, as well as a “Tobias”, probably a painting but not impossibly a finished drawing like this, but framed and on the wall of his house, as noted in his 1656 inventory.[3] Benesch 0474, a copy rather than an original by Lastman, is of good quality and, in the heads of Tobit and Tobias, the expressions are as strong or arguably even more convincing than in Lastman’s original painting (Fig.a). Here I will permit myself an unprovable conjecture: although we have no evidence to support such a theory, one cannot completely discount the possibility, remote though it may be, that the copy could have been made by Rembrandt himself when in Lastman’s studio in around 1624-25. After all, many painters set their pupils the task of making drawn copies after their paintings as part of their apprentice-work, as Rembrandt was himself to do, later on.[4] It is also clear that at some stage the drawing was damaged towards the upper right and that the more distant part of the landscape background became fainter. Thus the idea that Rembrandt owned, repaired and retouched the drawing becomes a distinct possibility, one given considerable support by the stylistic evidence.

To summarise, the drawing seems (a) likely to have been retouched by Rembrandt, perhaps in the later 1630s or early 1640s (though possibly around the time of his other copes after Lastman, c.1635-37) and (b) conceivably to have originally been drawn by Rembrandt when a young student in Lastman’s workshop in c.1624-25, before he later repaired and retouched it, a possibility which for the present must remain conjectural for lack of comparative material. But it might explain why this unusual drawing after Lastman, of high quality, has survived: because it is by his most famous pupil.

Condition: Generally good, but damaged and repaired towards the upper right, where part of the landscape background appears to have suffered fading; see further the comments above.

Summary attribution: After Pieter Lastman; retouched by Rembrandt (c.1637-42; and conceivably originally drawn by him when in Lastman’s studio, c.1624).

Date: c.1624 and retouched c.1637-42 in the trees in black chalk (see main comments and Summary attribution).

COLLECTION: NL Amsterdam, Museum het Rembrandthuis.

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Amsterdam, 1931, p.11, no.11; Van Regteren Altena, 1948-49, p.24 and n.14 (attributes chalk landscape to right to Rembrandt, perhaps when an apprentice); Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.474, repr. (preliminary study by Lastman for 1618 painting in Copenhagen; landscape to right added by Rembrandt, c.1637, rather than earlier, as was suggested by Van Regteren Altena, 1948-49); Amsterdam, 1972, no.X (as Benesch, 1954; Rembrandt’s 1656 inventory includes two albums of drawings by Lastman; this drawing probably among them); Amsterdam, 1991, no.11, repr. (after Lastman); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: J.H.J. Mellaert (dealer), by whom donated to the present repository, 1926.

[1] See Freise, 1911, no.42; Seifert, 2011, p.270, repr. fig.234.

[2] See Amsterdam, 1991, no.11: “the style of the additions in black chalk does not necessarily reflect that of Rembrandt”.

[3] Strauss and Van der Meulen, 1979, 1656/12: “Een dito vol schetsen van Pieter Lasman met de pen geteeckent / Een dito van Lasman met root krijt” (folio 36 recto [document/remdoc/e12725]). There was also what was probably a painting, but might possibly have been a pictorial drawing such as Benesch 0474, as noted above: “Een Tobias van Lasman” (folio 30 recto [document/remdoc/e12713]).

[4] Best known are those by or attributed to Ferdinand Bol, for example the two in the British Museum, Sumowski 127x-28x; London, 2010 online, nos.1 and 2 (as Bol), and the Minerva formerly on the art market, Sumowski 87.

First posted 10 April 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0475

Subject: The Finding of Moses (Exodus, II, 5)

Medium: Pen and brown ink; free-hand framing lines in a slightly greyer ink (along the top edge, the line is only towards the right).

175 x 240.

COMMENTS: The drawing was long regarded as a particularly fine example of Rembrandt’s capacity for extreme economy in his drawings: a "brilliant sketch" (genialer Entwurf),[1] “a few lines, wonderful in their suggestion of plasticity, space, movement and expressive force" (een paar lijnen wonderbaar van plastiek, ruimte, handeling en uitdrukking),[2] with “its suggestive succinctness”.[3] Even for a drawing by Rembrandt, it is difficult to name studies in which so much is conveyed by so few lines, perhaps especially in the woman on the right. Among the drawing’s most evident characteristics are (a) the broad, almost painterly width of many of the pen lines, although others are much thinner; (b) the degree to which some outlines are broken or interrupted, as in the arms of the crouching woman; (c) the abbreviation of the feet into loops and lines that meld with the ground below, especially in the woman on the right; (d) the loops describing drapery visible also at both the elbow and to the right of the neck of the tallest figure; (e) the unusual, abstracted abbreviation for the knees and legs of the stretching woman on the left; (f) the abbreviation of the hands and heads, the former either into zigzags to denote individual fingers (the women on the right), or into a hook (the forefinger of the hand reaching out for the basket - see Fig.f) or into an approximate circle (the same figure’s left hand), while the heads veer towards a simple, single outline, especially in the faces, with a few minimal touches for their facial features, with somewhat more elaboration in the hair; (g) as noted above, the overarching economy – near shorthand – of the drawing in which some lines, in the upper halves of the figures, appear highly considered and deliberate, executed in a measured tempo, while in the lower halves they often seem exceptionally liquid, bold and free; and (h) the coherence of the design and interrelationships of the figures, with a strong diagonal armature from the lower left (through the arms of the crouching figure) which, akin to the shank of a ship’s anchor, rises to abut the group of two figures on the right.

In 1915, a connection was recognised between the drawing and a large painting by Ferdinand Bol, now belonging to the Rijksmuseum (Fig.a; on loan to the “Bolzaal” [Bol Room] at the Peace Palace in The Hague). Writers assumed that Bol had later made use of a sketch by his teacher, as no comparable drawings, or drawings of such high quality, had been ascribed to Bol.[4] Datable c.1660-63, the painting formed part of a series that originally decorated a room in a house in Utrecht. The pictures were presumably commissioned by the wealthy widow, Jacoba Lampsins, who had acquired the house in 1657,[5] although the canvases were apparently enlarged to fit the space, so may have been begun earlier.[6]

The relationship with Bol’s painting having been established, it was not long before the drawing was attributed to Bol himself (firstly by Münz, 1924) and regarded as his own preparatory study, rather than a work by Rembrandt that his erstwhile pupil had later consulted.[7] This point of view gained some, though minority traction in its wake.[8] But fifty years later, in the 1970s, it was supported in the main catalogues of Bol’s paintings and drawings by Blankert (1976/1982) and Sumowski (1979), and thereafter became the canonical view.[9] One could say that the gravitational pull of the painting eventually wrested the drawing from its orbit around Rembrandt to a new orbit around his satellite, Bol. Sumowski went so far as to designate the drawing as an “authentic” work by Bol because of its relationship with the painting (without one of his asterisks, marked as an ‘x’, which means that he designated the drawing as “by Bol” rather than “attributed to”); yet at the same time he wrote:

“Because of the significant quality of the sheet, with its subtle East-Asian appearance and particular expressiveness, most connoisseurs have concluded that the pupil based his painting on a sketch by Rembrandt. One is tempted to agree with this opinion, especially in the case of this drawing”, and “Because the ‘Finding of Moses’, as a school piece, is connected with a painting by Bol, he must be considered as the most likely author of the sketch, although drawings of equal quality by him are lacking”.[10]

Cagey indeed – one is surprised that he did not assign an “x” to the drawing. But the relationship with Bol’s painting is clear, the most similar figure being that on the leftof the drawing, with her arms spread wide. In the painting, she is supported on her left by a black maidservant. Pharoah’s daughter is turned more towards the spectator,[11] but otherwise remains comparable; but the profile figure bending forward is eliminated, to be replaced by a small gathering of three nude women. While the addition of the black figure as a support has a logic, it has to be said that the architecture binding the group in the drawing becomes a more flaccid arrangement on the rigfht of Bol’s painting, in which they cohere rather less satisfactorily, both physically and psychologically.

As there are a few examples of Rembrandt’s drawings being used by his pupils for their paintings (e.g., Benesch 0128, used by Christoph Paudiss, and Benesch 1068B, used by Aert de Gelder), it cannot be argued that Bol could not have done the same in this instance. His paintings in any case frequently echo works by Rembrandt. In addition, it should be noted that documents appear to mention a now-unidentified painting of The Finding of Moses by Rembrandt, so that conceivably Bol was influenced not by the drawing, but by a lost Rembrandt painting.[12] This means that we can rely only on stylistic comparisons between Rembrandt’s and Bol’s drawings in order to pass judgment on the attribution of Benesch 0475, taking as a starting point its characteristics as described in the first paragraph above, under the rubric (a)-(h).

After an initial assessment, I mentioned my uncertainty about the Bol attribution to Peter Schatborn, who kindly suggested the following three comparisons to support it:[13]

1. The Three Maries at the Tomb (Fig.b; Sumowski 97). This is a documentary drawing by Bol, being a study for his painting of the Three Maries at the Sepulchre, dated 1644, now in Copenhagen.[14] Although a pictorial drawing, worked up with an atmospheric wash in various tones of brown and some red chalk, the outlines of the figures are often reduced to a minimum as in Benesch 0475. We therefore only have the outlines to compare.

Taking the characteristics of Benesch 0475 listed under (a)-(h) above, (a) the lines are generally less painterly and somewhat more detailed and descriptive; (b) there are fewer interruptions in the outlines though they appear to a degree in the nearer angel; (c) the feet are not abbreviated into loops that meld with the ground in the same way, even in the standing angel; (d) other loops in the outlines are lacking; (e) there is no comparable abbreviation to that employed for the knees of the stretching figure in Benesch 0475; (f) the heads, feet and hands differ, the most comparable being the right hand of the nearer angel, but, like most of the other figures, her fingers are more individualised and different in form, as are the abbreviated hands of the angel on the right; and the heads and faces do not appear especially analogous; (g) the economy of Benesch 0475 is not so apparent, and the contrast in detail between the upper and lower parts of the figures does not materialise so completely; (h) the figures generally do not cohere into an interrelated, interactive group so clearly but appear more separate (compare the two angels with the two figures on the right of Benesch 0475), neither is there such a geometric or architectural bond between them. One might add that, in the Three Maries (Fig.b), there are some stronger outlines even where the light falls, as in the back of the nearer, crouching figure on the left and the nearer angel on the right. Overall, it appears that the two drawings, while not without ingredients in common, do not have sufficient similarities to be regarded as by the same hand.[15]

2. The Angel Appearing to Hagar and Ishmael in the Desert (Fig.c; Sumowski 242x).[16] The drawing is an exemplar of Bol’s often free and liquid touch. Yet it lacks the discipline and reticence of Benesch 0475, in which each move of the pen appears more considered, rather than allowing the pen to run untrammeled; by reticence, we mean the economy of the drawing, increasing what Gombrich referred to as "the beholder’s share”. In the Bol drawing (Fig.c), the pen-lines flow almost unchecked - an impressive achievement, but one that is distinct from the more deliberated style of Benesch 0475. Looking for characteristics that align with those of Benesch 0475 described under (a)-(h) in the first paragraph, despite the fact that both drawings may be described as sketchy, only the abbreviation of the hands bears any ready similarity, and that not close.

3. The Angel Appearing to Hagar and Ishmael in the Desert (Fig.d; Sumowski 256x). This reveals a similar, almost unwieldy freedom to no.2 (Fig.c) and again, only in the hands is there any connection with Benesch 0475: no wide painterly lines as described at (a); little interruption in the outlines as in (b); no closed loops in the figures (c) and (d), although nearly so by Hagar’s knees; no unusual, calligraphic abbreviation comparable to the knees of the kneeling figure in Benesch 0475 noted in (e); one hand, that of the angel, has some connection with those in Benesch 0475 as noted in (f); the figure of Hagar does not have a focus on the upper half of her body rather than the lower (g); and although the composition is lucid, the handling lacks the degree of economy and the architectural coherence of Benesch 0475. The sketch attributed to Bol is set down liquidly and vivaciously, apparently at speed, but the artist seems to have been reluctant to lift his pen from the paper so that the drawing lacks the overall sense of reticent control apparent in the Finding of Moses.

There are other drawings, either by or attributed to Bol, that resemble nos. 1-3 (Figs b-d) but none of secure attribution that are closer to Benesch 0475 – Peter Schatborn’s choice is a good one. But as we have seen, it seems reasonable to conclude that the comparisons never strongly suggest that Benesch 0475 is by the same hand.[17]

Turning to Rembrandt, the following three drawings seem to approach Benesch 0475 as closely any that are widely accepted as Rembrandt’s work. Indeed, the first two are documentary drawings:

1. The Entombment, c.1640 (Fig.e; Benesch 0482), a documentary drawing. This is clearly earlier than Benesch 0475 and exhibits many differences. But it already shows Rembrandt abbreviating figures to an exceptional degree. The feet of those carrying Christ's body are described by a cursive, looped pen-line several times - the characteristic noted in the first paragraph at (c) and (d). The comparison is not persuasive on its own, but these analogies at least provide a link of sorts.

2. The Star of the Kings, c.1645-47 (Figs f-h; Benesch 0736), also a documentary drawing. At the top centre, as well as in the barely sketched figure on the extreme right, there are lines that have something of the broad, painterly quality (a) of some of the lines of Benesch 0475, combined with thinner ones; with regard to quality (b), one cannot say the outlines are often interrupted, but they are occasionally, as at the feet of the children to the right. The pointed right foot of the woman holding a child in the centre resembles the right foot of the tallest figure in Benesch 0475, in which the back foot and drapery of her companion to the right are again comparable; for the loops mentioned at (d) above, we may compare the full loop at the upper left, in the awning above the door (where it abuts another line), those in the taller of the standing figures on the right, which has loops in the nearer shoulder and half-way down the back (see the detail in Fig.g); for (e), the bold abbreviation above the star (see Fig.h) has at the very least some connection with the cursive description of the crouching woman’s knees and legs; for the hands, heads and faces (f), the head of the standing woman holding a child to the right of the star (see Fig.h) is comparable to the heads of the crouching maidservant and also the tallest woman in Benesch 0475, especially in the hair and facial features (in particular the nose and eyebrows); while the hands in Benesch 0475 may be compared with those of the women carrying children in the Star of the Kings, one at the window, the other in the centre of the drawing. Additionally, the anatomy of the left forearm of the baby held up in the window, with its ovoid bulge below the elbow combined with a near-circle for the hand, a formula also used in the smaller child to the right, resembles the left forearm of the crouching woman in Benesch 0475; some of the figures, especially towards the right of the Star of the Kings, are sketched in more fully above the waist than below (cf. the standing, taller man at the right and his companion, and the two children in front of them), in accordance with quality (g), although clearly the drawing is in general less economical; and (h) one could argue that in the Star of the Kings, the overall architectural structure of the design coheres in a more complex manner than in the Finding of Moses. But the many analogies, in the details especially, are nevertheless suggestive, considerably more so than those between the Finding of Moses and drawings by Ferdinand Bol, even if, for some, they may not be regarded as persuasive.

3. Christ Washing the Feet of his Disciples, c.1648-49 (Fig.i; Benesch 0931). For (a) we can observe at least some connection with the painterly lines, visible here beneath Christ and the figure to the right, as well as in the indication of curtaining at the top right; as in the Finding of Moses, they are combined with more delicate touches, and this to a greater degree in Benesch 0931, partly because rather than a frieze of figures across the space, the artist is creating more depth in perspective; for (b), broken outlines appear in the Christ (near his hands and in the nearer arm) and in St Peter on the left (in his right arm and in the centre of his back) as well as in the disciple behind the chair and the figure on the right (especially by his knees); the abbreviation of the feet into loops or lines that meld into the ground (c), though not so forcefully apparent, occurs to some degree in the Christ and the standing apostle to the right; while there is no obvious employment of small loops in the description of the figures (d), in the crouching Christ, the abstract approach in the description of the knees (e) is related to the treatment of the woman to the left of the Finding of Moses; for the treatment of the hands, heads and faces (f), the near-circular right hand of Peter to the left is analogous to Benesch 0475 and the toes of his extended foot are also abbreviated to a zigzag, like the hands of the women on the right of the Finding of Moses; Christ’s hands are also comparable, while his abbreviated facial features resemble those of the bending figure in profile in the Finding of Moses (cf. also the figure towards the right of Benesch 876); the economy (g) is clear, particularly in the group of figures on the right, some of whom are only adumbrated, and they compare with Benesch 0475 further in being more detailed above the waist and sketchier below; and both drawings have a powerful sense of order and coherence (h). Also comparable are the abbreviations near the ears of the figures to the right (cf. the crouching woman in Benesch 0475) and the few touches of parallel shading in the right leg of St Peter on the left, and the stomach of the crouching woman; and behind the chair to the right of centre in (Fig.i) and the basket in the Finding of Moses.

Matches between Rembrandt’s drawings are often not perfect, and in the Introduction (under the ‘About’ tab) we stress the reasons for this and why we should not invariably expect to discern clear-cut answers via stylistic analysis. But that the Finding of Moses drawing approaches Rembrandt considerably more closely than Bol cannot be in doubt. For this reason we return Benesch 0475 to its former attribution. Some further comparisons, which add further support for this conclusion, are listed in a footnote.[18] Bol’s drawings, even those of the same type and period, are markedly more loose or slack and exhibit few close analogies with the judicious, measured discipline and economy of the Finding of Moses.

In the 1640s, Rembrandt’s style became more liquid and often extraordinarily free and bold; in the 1650s, this generally morphs into a spare restraint and delicacy, the breadth and economy being expressed in lines made with a gentler, almost tentative touch. Benesch 0475 seems to belong somewhere between the two, still having the liquidity, but already economical to an exceptional degree. Given the stylistic connections with the Star of the Kings (Figs.f-h) of the mid-1640s, and some relationship also with the documentary drawing of St Jerome in an Italian Landscape of c.1653 (Benesch 0886, as mentioned in footnote 17), which is probably somewhat later, the Finding of Moses, with its almost Renaissance balance in the composition, probably belongs within the period c.1647-52.[19]

A few further remarks: Bol's drawings usually reflect Rembrandt’s style in the years of his apprenticeship from c.1635-40, and not later. The Finding of Moses, however, is in Rembrandt’s style of c.1647-50. It is interesting to compare Bol’s drawings for the Town Hall of 1655-56, thus a little later, which still hark back to Rembrandt's draughtsmanship of the 1630s (eg. Sumowski 110-111 and 115; Exh. Amsterdam, 2017-18, figs. 172-74 [Munich inv.1748-49 and Vienna inv.9554]). If the Finding of Moses were really a study by Bol for his painting of c.1660 (Fig.a), it should similarly (and characteristically) reflect Rembrandt’s earlier style. The pose of the crouching woman in Benesch 475 - nude and with her arms splayed apart rather immodestly as she stretches to retrieve the infant Moses - is highly original in the context of the tradition for representing the Finding of Moses, and this degree of originality is more a hallmark of Rembrandt than Bol. Also of interest is the influence, first noted in the 1940s-50s (see Literature below), of Raphael’s Loggia fresco of the same subject, which would have been known to Rembrandt via engravings, such as those by Sisto Badalocchio, in reverse to Raphael’s fresco, of 1607 (Bartsch XVIII.356.14), Orazio Borgianni, in the original direction, of 1615 (Bartsch, XVI, p.318, no.29), or even – if Rembrandt’s drawing dates from 1649 or later, by Nicolas Chaperon, whose etching, in the same direction, was published in 1649 (Robert-Dumesnil, VI, p.224, no.31). A Raphael school drawing now in Chicago also shows the design in the same direction as the fresco (inv. 1922.2461), as does another in the Victoria and Albert Museum, attributed to Giovanni Francesco Penni, which belonged to Nicolaes Flinck, the son of Rembrandt’s pupil Govert Flinck (Fig.j). It might have been known or even belonged to Rembrandt. Again, Raphael did influence Rembrandt,[20] but has not been invoked as a significant influence on Bol.

Finally, as rather few of the biblical scenes in Benesch’s vols III and V remain widely accepted as by Rembrandt by most authorities, it is no surprise that we have a less than ideal quantity of comparative material. But what evidence we have points firmly in the direction of Rembrandt. Bol’s use of the drawing for his painting suggests that the two artists were still in contact in the 1660s. As they both lived in Amsterdam, and Houbraken relates that fellow-artists were among Rembrandt’s more regular companions in his later years, this should not come as a surprise.[21]

Condition: Time and light-stained and spotted from old fox-marks; torn vertically down the middle and reassembled, with an associated damage at the top centre.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1647-52.

COLLECTION: NL Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum (inv. RP-T-1930-6).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Lippmann, III, 40; Exh. The Hague, 1902-3, no.34; Exh. Leiden, 1903, no.20; Exh. London, 1904, no.131; Exh. Leiden, 1906, no.8; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.1251; Bruel, 1908, pp.445 and 448; Exh. Paris, 1908, no.306; Saxl, 1908, p.345 (c.1635; perhaps a first design for Bredius 496); Schmidt Degener, 1908, p.109, repr.; Hofstede de Groot, 1909, no.33, repr.; Amsterdam, 1911 (Rembrandthuis Guide), p.7; Exh. Amsterdam, 1913, no.6; Teding van Berkhout, 1913, no.3, repr.; Hofstede de Groot, 1915.I, p.87, repr. fig.26 (Rembrandt; used by Bol for his painting in the Peace Palace, The Hague); Exh. Leiden, 1916, no.28 (c.1640); Kronig, 1916-17, p.373 (Rembrandt); Hirschmann, 1917, pp.13-14, repr. fig.6 (c.1638-46); Von Seidlitz, 1917, pp.246 and 252 (c.1640-45); Bredt, 1918, p.60, detail repr.; Kauffmann, 1919, p.55 (c.1658); Meder, 1919, p.11, repr.; Exh. Paris, 1921, no.50; Becker, 1923, no.19, repr. (c.1640); Münz, 1924, p.111, repr. fig.12 (Bol, after 1660); Kauffmann, 1925, p.288 (Münz, 1924, attribution to Bol erroneous); Müller (Hofstede), 1925, p.212 (Rembrandt but used by Bol); Van Regteren Altena, 1925.I, p.371; Valentiner, I, 1925, no.123, repr. (c.1635); Kauffmann, 1926, pp.161 and 173 (c.1640); Van Dyke, 1927, p.50 (Bol); Exh. The Hague, 1930, no.5; Hell, 1930, p.118, n.1 (1630s); Henkel, 1930, p.81 (Bol); Paris, 1933, p.7, under no.1122 (Rembrandt, used by Bol); Benesch, 1935, p.29 (c.1639; school drawing corrected by Rembrandt); Martin, 1935-36, II, p.128, repr. fig.70 (Rembrandt, used by Bol); Amsterdam, 1942, no.49, repr. pl.34 (c.1640; Rembrandt, used by Bol; compares Benesch 0532; not corrected by Rembrandt [pace Benesch, 1935]; perhaps inspired by Raphael); Schinnerer, 1944, repr. fig.44 (c.1635); Weski, 1944, pp.35ff., 40 and 132 (c.1636-37); Landsberger, 1946, repr. fig.48; Von Alten, 1947, p.155, repr. fig.13; Exh. Cappenberg, 1949, no.58, repr. (c.1640); Wallrath, 1949, p.99, repr.; Exh. Rome-Florence, 1951, no.76 (c.1640-45; influence of Raphael); Brière-Misme, 1953, p.28, n.6 (Rembrandt, used by Bol); Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.475, repr. fig.539/566 (c.1635; Bol, for his painting, following Münz, 1924, but head at top corrected by Rembrandt and compared with Madonna’s head in Benesch 0115); Bibeln, 1956, repr. pl.45; Exh. Raleigh, 1956, under no.11 (c.1635); Knuttel, 1956, p.109; Rosenberg, 1956.I, p.69 (Rembrandt; superior to Bol in its suggestive succinctness but used by him for his painting); Sumowski, 1956-57, p.264 (Rembrandt, used by Bol); Valentiner, 1957, p.56 (c.1635; Rembrandt, used by Bol); Haverkamp-Begemann, 1961, p.18 (Rembrandt); Sumowski, 1961, p.7 (Bol, 1640s); Rembrandt-Bijbel, 1962, repr. p.232; Rotermund, 1963, fig.71, repr.; Gantner, 1964, p.82; Stechow, 1964, p.96; Exh. Amsterdam, 1964-65, no.64; Slive, 1965, II, no.373, repr. (c.1635; used by Bol); Sumowski, 1965, p.123, under no.16 (Bol; used this earlier drawing for his painting); Clark, 1966, pp.48, 50 and 213, n.7 (Bol; related to G.F. Penni); Kahr, 1966.I, p.81; Exh. Chicago-Minneapolis-Detroit, 1969-70, no.151, repr. (Bol?); Campbell, 1971, p.69 (Bol; derived from Raphael); Gerszi, 1971, p.105 (Bol, but very close to Rembrandt); Sciolla, 1972, p.64 (Bol); Tsurutani, 1974, p.4 (c.1635; Rembrandt or Bol); Exhibition, New York, 1975, under no.29 (Münz’s attribution to Bol mostly rejected); Bernhard, 1976, II, p.127, repr. (c.1635; school work, corrected by Rembrandt); Blankert, 1976, pp.46 and 145, under no.A49 (Bol); Sumowski, Drawings, I, 1979, no.93, repr. (Bol, for his painting, “although drawings of equal quality by him are lacking”); Exhibition, Paris-Antwerp-London-New York, 1979–80, under no.77 (Bol); Blankert, 1982, under no.9; Schatborn, 1985, p.197, n.10 (noting its inclusion as Bol by Sumowski, 1979, without demur); Eikema Hommes, 2012, p.115, repr. fig.110 (Bol); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]*

PROVENANCE: P. & D. Colnaghi & Co.; Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, The Hague, by whom presented to the present repository in 1906 with a life interest (d.1930).

[1] Kronig, 1916-17, p.373.

[2] Von Seidlitz, 1917, pp.246 and 252.

[3] Rosenberg, 1956.I, p.69.

[4] Proposed by Hofstede de Groot, 1915.I.

[5] For a full treatment of the series, see Eikema Hommes, 2012. Blankert, 1982, no.9, placed the series c.1655. See also Sumowski, Gemälde, I, 1983, no.96.

[6] They may of course never have been intended to be smaller and only been enlarged before they were completed.

[7] Münz, 1924, p.111, repr. fig.12.

[8] In favour of Bol up to the 1970s were (see Literature for more precise references) Van Dyke, 1927; Henkel, 1930 (but returned by him to Rembrandt in Amsterdam, 1942), Benesch, 1935 and 1954/73 (who thought the uppermost head retouched by Rembrandt); Sumowski, 1961 and 1965 (revising his opinion of 1956-57, when he supported the attribution to Rembrandt); Clark, 1966; Campbell, 1971; Gerszi, 1971; Sciolla, 1972.

Among those in favour of retaining the drawing as by Rembrandt were Kauffmann, 1925 and 1926; Müller Hofstede, 1925; Van Regteren Altena, 1925.I; Valentiner, I, 1925; Lugt in Paris, 1933; Martin, 1935-36; Schinnerer, 1944; Weski, 1944; Landsberger, 1946; Von Alten, 1947; Van Regteren Altena again in Exh. Rome-Florence, 1951; Brière-Misme, 1953; Valentiner again in Exh. Raleigh, 1956; Knuttel, 1956; Rosenberg, 1956 (as already noted above); Sumowski, 1956-57 (who changed his mind from 1961); Valentiner (for a third time), 1957; Haverkamp-Begemann, 1961; Rotermund, 1963; Gantner, 1964; Stechow, 1964; Frerichs in Exh. Amsterdam, 1964-65; Slive, 1965.

[9] See under Literature for further details.

[10] Sumowski, Drawings, I, 1979, p.210, no.93.

[11] In the painting, as noted by Schatborn, Bol used for this figure a now lost drawing which must have been made at the same sitting as a drawing by Jacob van Loo, which shows a nude in almost the same pose but seen from a different angle (see Exh. Amsterdam, 2014, no.54, repr.).

[12] The oval painting of the subject in Philadelphia, Bredius 496, is usually associated with the Tugny and Crozat sale in Paris in 1751, lot 167; but not with the earlier sale, c.1716, in Frankfurt of a painting of the subject by Rembrandt from the collection of Johann Mathäus von Merian (1659-1716) of the printmaking dynasty – see Remdoc (http://remdoc.huygens.knaw.nl/#/document/remdoc/e14858).

[13] E-mail to the compiler, 17 April 2020. With thanks to him and to Jan Leja for help with jpegs. Peter Schatborn, who believes the drawing is by Bol, very kindly examined a first draft of this entry in great detail in May 2020.

[14] Statens Museum for Kunst, inv. KMSsp427; Blankert, 1982, no. 17, repr. pl.4; Sumowski, Gemälde, I, 1983, no.83, repr..

[15] The related drawing in Wroclaw focussing on the standing Mary only (inv.8721; Sumowski 98) is arguably closer in style to Benesch 0475, although again considerably less economical (and closer to Fig.b).

[16] In Moscow, 2010, no.61, the drawing is described as formerly attributed to Bol.

[17] Other drawings attributed to Bol that I have compared include the following: 1. Healing of Tobit, Copenhagen (inv. KKS 18007; Benesch 0546; Exh. Copenhagen, 1996, no.10); 2. Joshua and the Angel (sale, London, Christie’s, 4 July 2006, lot 55; Sumowski 90); 3. Jacob’s Dream, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard (inv.1976.3; Sumowski 162x - attributed to Victors by Bevers, 2007, p.55, repr. fig.16); 4. Standing Priest, Wroclaw (Benesch 102; Sumowski 165x); 5. David and Saul (sale, New York, Sotheby’s, 23 January 2001, lot 263; Sumowski 183x); 6. Abraham and the Angels, Amsterdam – perhaps as close as any drawing to Benesch 0475, but still lacking most of the (a)-(h) characteristics (inv. RP-T-1930-1; Sumowski 219x); 7. St Jerome, Munich (inv.1463; Sumowski 243x); 8. Rebecca and Eliezer, Vienna (inv.8758; Sumowski 261x).

[18] Other Rembrandt drawings with comparable elements include 1. Benesch 0115 (Benesch himself, who thought Benesch 0475 was only retouched by Rembrandt in the head of the tallest figure – an assessment that failed to attract adherents - compared the topmost head with the head with that of the Virgin in Benesch 0115; there are also links with the abstraction of the kneeling figure’s knees with those of the woman stretching in Benesch 0475, along with the loops and broken outlines); 2. Benesch 0218 (the abbreviation of the lower part of the figure on the left, and of her feet; 3. Benesch 0382 (the loop to the left and the abbreviation of the hands); 4. Benesch 0567 (the formulation of the knees resembles the stretching figure in Benesch 0475); 5. Benesch 0622a (compare the profile of Jael and the woman on the right of Benesch 0475).

[19] See Saxl, 1923-24, who noted (p.159) that the classicising influence and restraint of Italian Renaissance art becomes more marked in Rembrandt’s art from around 1650. In the case of the reticence of Benesch 0475, one may also compare Rembrandt’s 1652 etching of Christ Disputing with the Doctors (Bartsch 65; NH 267).

[20] The drawing by Penni was already noted as a possible source by Ven Regteren Altena, 1925.I, and Exh. Rome-Florence, 1951. For Raphael’s influence, see further under Benesch 0180, Benesch 0188, Benesch 0348 (also for items relating to Raphael in the 1656 inventory of Rembrandt’s possessions), Benesch 0451 and Benesch 0913. Literature on the topic includes Saxl, 1923-24 (see also n.18) and Clark, 1966.

[21] Houbraken, 1718, p.272: “Hy verkeerde in den herfst van zyn leven wel meest met gemeene luiden, en zulke die de Konst hanteerden” (In the autumn of his life he associated mostly with ordinary people, and those who practised art).

First posted 24 April 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0476

Subject: Joseph Interpreting the Prisoners' Dreams (Genesis, XL)

Medium: Pen and brown ink; ruled framing lines in pen and brown ink.

197 x 190.

COMMENTS: For the subject, which was common in the work of Rembrandt and his pupils, see under Benesch 0080 and compare Benesch 0109-10, Benesch 0423 verso, Benesch 0912 and Benesch 1001.

The drawing was made in two distinct stages: at first, the scene was sketched with a fine nib, with a focus on the three figures, which were all completed. The original pose of that on the right, facing the spectator, suggests a link with Rembrandt’s treatment of the subject in the drawing now in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Fig.a; see further under the ‘Not in Benesch’ tab), which is turn is related to Benesch 0423 verso. In this initial stage, although the figure on the right was turned towards the front, as in the Getty drawing, his legs were more akimbo. In the second stage, the pen was recharged with ink - almost too fully - and the drawing reworked in broad, liquid strokes: the legs of the figure on the left (the baker) were redrawn, raising his further knee; Joseph’s headgear was changed from a beret to a Phrygian cap, a sash was added over his right shoulder, and his left hand, which had previously been at his waist, was raised (as in Benesch 0423 verso) to gesticulate towards the figure on the right (the butler); the butler underwent the most significant alteration, being swivelled round and turned away from the viewer to look at Joseph: bold strokes almost annihilate the first version of this figure above his knees, covering the area in a dark form that resembles the back of a bench or a low wall. He was also given a sash over the nearer shoulder, while his head, now above the first one, was roughed out, with shadows added to the right; finally, the background was elaborated freely, the sweeping lines behind Joseph suggestive of a spiral staircase.

That the first version of the drawing was by Ferdinand Bol, with broad corrections by Rembrandt, was first proposed in 1957.[1] The attribution to Bol appears to be confirmed by several comparisons, including with the Three Marys at the Tomb, now in Darmstadt (Sumowski 173x) and the Hagar and the Angel, now in the Rijksmuseum (inv. RP-T-1930-27; Sumowski 89). All the drawings show the figures drawn in fine, rather uniform lines and in some detail, so that the figures are completed from top to toe. There are links with the fine penwork in Bol’s documentary study of the Holy Family, indented for his etching of 1643 (British Museum, inv. 1836,0811.337; Sumowski 95). The present drawing is likely to have been made during Bol’s apprenticeship, perhaps at the very end of the 1630s, when Rembrandt was also engaged with the subject (see Benesch 423 verso and the related drawing in the J. Paul Getty Museum, both mentioned above), although the liquid touch of Rembrandt’s interventions resembles his drawings of the 1640s. The revised head of the butler on the right may be compared with the head on the extreme right of Rembrandt’s documentary drawing of the Entombment of c.1640 (Benesch 0482), while the new gesture made by Joseph's left hand resembles that in Benesch 0423 verso in style as well as pose.

The engraving of the subject by Lucas van Leyden (Fig.b) has been invoked as an influence on the composition, although the relationship is somewhat generalised.[2] The closest elements are the figures on the right, in the corrected version in the drawing, and the arch in the centre behind.

Condition: Generally good; slight staining especially towards the right.

Summary attribution: Ferdinand Bol, corrected by Rembrandt.

Date: c.1639-40.

COLLECTION: D Dresden, Staatliche Museen Dresden, Kupferstich-Kabinett (L.1647; inv. C1300).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Franke, 1865, Holländisch Schulen, Portf. IV, p.189, no.42; Hofstede de Groot, 1890, p.2, no.10 (late 1630s, according to Von Seidlitz); Woerman, VIII, 1898, p.89, no.289, repr. pl.III; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.201 (Rembrandt, with his own corrections); Wurzbach, 1910, p.416; Neumann, 1918.I, p.86, repr. (as Hofstede de Groot, 1906, but the corrections made much later); Freise, Lilienfeld and Wichmann, 1925, no.5. repr. (late 1630s); Valentiner, I, 1925, no.107, repr. (school work, corrected by Rembrandt in 1630s); Van Guldener, 1947, p.43; Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.476, repr. fig.536/567 (as Valentiner, 1925, but late 1630s; compares Benesch 0423 verso); Sumowski, 1956-57, p.264 (corrections by Rembrandt); Valentiner, 1957, p.56 (Bol, corrected by Rembrandt); Exh. Dresden, 1960, no.61 (school work; corrections by Rembrandt after 1630); Benkendorf, 1960, p.49, repr. (as Exh. Dresden, 1960); Sumowski, 1961, p.7 (refers to opinion of Valentiner, 1957); Tsurutani, 1974, p.3, repr. (Bol, corrected by Rembrandt lare 1630s); Sumowski, Drawings, I, 1979, no.176x, repr. (Bol, corrected by Rembrandt in late 1630s; compares Bol’s Three Marys at the Tomb, Darmstadt, Sumowski 173x); Exh. Dresden, 2004, no.72, repr. (Bol, corrected by Rembrandt; influenced by Lucas van Leyden print of the subject; discussed in context of Hamburg version of the subject by Bol, inv. 22412, Sumowski 101); Exh. Kassel, 2006, pp.9-10, repr. fig.4 (1635-40; Bol corrected by Rembrandt); Exh. Dresden, 2019, no.32, repr. (Bol, corrected by Rembrandt); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: acquired by the present repository before 1756.

[1] Valentiner, 1957, p.56.

[2] See Exh. Dresden, 2004, no.72.

First posted 27 April 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0477

Subject: A Nude Man Kneeling (St John the Baptist)

Verso: Blank except marks/inscriptions

Medium: Pen and brown ink touched with brown wash containing white bodycolour (correcting the nearest leg), with a dab of white in the nearer knee; the brown ink is generally not dark apart from some areas which Rembrandt returned to. Inscribed verso, in pen and brown ink near top centre: “No” (with a curly capital "N" and a superscript “o” contained in its upper loop); and with two short parallel dashes next to it; below this (in a slightly darker ink?) four dots arranged in a square (as on dice).

99 x 92 (slightly irregular). Watermark: none; chain lines: (not measured but laid lines fine, c.29/cm)

COMMENTS: A documentary drawing, used in preparation for Rembrandt’s etching of the Beheading of St John the Baptist of 1640 (see Figs a-b; the subject is from Mark, VI, 21-28). In the etching, Rembrandt adjusted a few details, including the lilt of the head, the addition of extra cloth around the figure's midriff and the tighter angle of the knees. The extremely delicate penwork has an almost unbelievably light touch, for example where the light strikes the leg on the left of the drawing. Equally tentative beginnings are also clear under the right arm and elsewhere. The loops at the right elbow, the pockets of shading and the description of the head, hands and the left foot are among the helpful qualities by which to judge the attribution to Rembrandt of other drawings of the early 1640s.

The figure belongs with those in Benesch 0478-80 and Benesch 0482, a group of drawings which is mainly discussed under Benesch 0478 (qv) and includes variations in the iconography. A slighter sketch of a similar kneeling man, with his executioner, is on Benesch 0482 verso (and of the executioner alone on the recto, qv). These may have been made first, as St John's pose is further removed from the solution in the etching, although they may relate to another subject, as the figure is not bearded and may be hooded or blindfolded. This difference might support the contention that Benesch 0478, 0479 and Benesch 0482 verso may depict the Beheading of Anabaptist Martyrs in Amsterdam in 1559 (see further on this topic under Benesch 0478 and Benesch 0485a). The figure of St John is however similarly shown, in the same direction as the drawing rather than the print, in Benesch 0480 (qv), which appears to be a drawing made by a pupil (Ferdinand Bol) and then perhaps corrected by Rembrandt.

For an earlier treatment of the subject, quite probably by Rembrandt, see Benesch 0101 (and the related etching mentioned there). For the general arrangement of the etching (Figs a-b), Rembrandt appears to have taken his cue from an etching by Frans Crabbe, made approximately 120 years before (Fig.c).[1] The figure of St John is particularly close, but in the reversal of the design in the printing process, Rembrandt’s executioner, right handed in his sketches, became left-handed.[2]

Of approximately the same date is the painting in the Rijksmuseum of Salome with the Head of the Baptist which is usually dated c.1640-45 and sometimes attributed to Rembrandt's pupil, Carel Fabritius (not unreasonably, in my view).[3]

Condition: Paper has turned brownish, though less so at the edges (up to 50mm from the edges), where it must have been clipped and protected by an old mount or frame; the sheet affected by mottling from glue stains down the right side by an old tape, since removed.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt*

Date: c.1640.

COLLECTION: F Bayonne, Musée Bonnat-Helleu (inv.636 [formerly 1442]).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.705 (of St Jerome?); Benesch, 1947, no.108, repr.; Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.477, repr. (c.1640; for the etching; compares Benesch 0478-79 and Benesch 0482 verso; contemporary with Benesch 0480); Exh. Bayonne, 1968-1969, no.2; Exh. Bayonne, 1975, no. 2; Exh. London, 1992, under nos. 35-37, 90, and 96, n.3, repr. p.224, pl.5; Dickey, 1995, p.59, n.52; Dickey, 1996, p.96, n.11; Exh. Amsterdam-London, 2000-2001, p.81, n.1; Rutgers, 2004, p.156 (Benesch 0477-9 and Benesch 0482 show Rembrandt moving figures around and playing with ideas for the etching rather than direct preliminary studies; sees the etching as inspired to some degree by Frans Crabbe’s etching [Hollstein 26]); London, 2010, under nos.32, 33, 34, 117 and Flinck no.9; Royalton-Kisch, 2011, pp.98-99, n.11; Schatborn, 2011, p.314, repr. fig.53; Royalton-Kisch and Schatborn, 2011, no.46, repr. fig.53 (documentary drawing); Schatborn, 2019, no.62, repr..

PROVENANCE: Thomas Hudson (L.2432); Joshua Reynolds (L.2364); William Mayor (L.2799); Seymour Haden (L.1227), where purchased by Léon Bonnat (L.1714), by whom presented to the present repository in 1919.

[1] As noted by Rutgers, 2004. There is also a link with Gerard van Honthorst's painting of the subject in S. Maria della Scale of c.1616-19 (see Judson/Ekkart, 1999, no. 41, repr. fig. 16).

[2] See Boeck, 1953, for Rembrandt’s common disregard of right-handedness in his prints (though Boeck does not include this example).

[3] Inv. SK-A-91. See Brown, 1981, no.R1, repr..

First posted 3 May 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0478

Subject: The Beheading of Prisoners (The Anabaptist Martyrs?)

Verso: Blank

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown wash and later grey wash; ruled framing lines in pen and (slightly paler) brown ink. Later inscriptions (relating to Ophir and Tarshish [sources of gold and wealth for King Solomon]) on the backing sheet: "S3 / De Ophir et Tarsis gf. Buddei hist. eccles. tom... / et Bachienig georg. sacr. tom. 3 ab. initio; and S4 / Vid Fabrit bibl. ant. cap. 16 S8; and on the verso S2 / ... dloi...t eg ex Egypto petiti Cyro et Alir nation.../...iti in s reg. 10-29."[1] and on the mat, with some provenance details.

182 x 134. Watermark: fragment, cross with letters G or C, H and M; chain lines: 26h (16 laid lines per cm).

COMMENTS: The drawing, which has been disfigured by widespread later additions in grey wash, is usually considered in the context of four other drawings which are chiefly discussed here: Benesch 0477, a documentary drawing by Rembrandt in a somewhat different style, related to Rembrandt’s etching of 1640 of the Beheading of the Baptist (see under Benesch 0477, Fig.a, Bartsch 92; NH 183); Benesch 0479-80 and Benesch 0482 (recto [the executioner underlying the bolder drawing of Christ Carried to the Tomb] and verso). All show a kneeling figure and, apart from Benesch 0477, also his sword-wielding executioner (in Benesch 0482 recto, only the executioner appears, sketched under the main, bolder study of Christ Carried to the Tomb). Of these, Benesch 0480 must depict the same subject as the etching, but in Benesch 0478-79, more than one prisoner is meeting his fate. However, in the case of Benesch 0479, it is arguable that the same prisoner is being shown three times, twice immediately before and once after his execution, so could still be St John, not least because the executioner on the far right seems to portray the same man as the one wielding the sword on the left.[2] But in Benesch 0478, the three decapitated heads in the foreground (along with the fourth head, soon to be sliced off) suggest a multiple execution. For this drawing in particular, as also Benesch 0485a (qv), the identification of the subject as the Beheading of the Anabaptist Martyrs in Amsterdam in 1559 is likely: Rembrandt was deeply engaged with members of this sect (Baldinucci goes so far as to say Rembrandt belonged to it, at least later in life, when he painted the Uffizi Self-Portrait),[3] and the stories of their 16th-century martyrs were a current topic in religious and political debates in Amsterdam around 1640.[4]

Because these drawings – especially Benesch 0478-79, and Benesch 0482 recto and verso – show the same (or very similar) figure groups from different angles, it seems likely that the models were arranged in the studio as in a chamber play, with Rembrandt and his pupils seated around to sketch them. The practice was documented by Rembrandt’s pupil, Samuel van Hoogstraten, who may have experienced it when studying with his master.[5] But deciding which of the drawings may be by Rembrandt and which by his pupils seated nearby presents not inconsiderable difficulties. If one places the main victims in these drawings together (Fig.a), the style appears to divide into three distinct groups: 1. Benesch 0477, which with its precise and sometimes detailed approach (in the head, especially) stands somewhat apart; 2. Benesch 0482 verso and Benesch 0479, which are alike in their refined, hair’s- breadth penmanship (Benesch 0479 is more resolved and therefore was probably drawn immediately after Benesch 0482 verso and the executioner on Benesch 0482 recto); and 3., Benesch 0478 and Benesch 0480, resemble each other in their more liquid handling, often with a well-charged pen. At a simplistic level, one might conclude that the drawings are by three different artists, all working at the same time, and that only Benesch 477 is by Rembrandt.

However, there are interconnections between groups 2 and 3: Benesch 0479 from group 2 and Benesch 0478 (the present drawing) from group 3 are close to identical in the description of the headless torso and the decapitated heads, as well as the pockets of hatching around them (see Fig.b): the decapitated head on the lower right of Benesch 0478 appears especially convincing for Rembrandt, the facial features and the scalp drawn with extraordinary delicacy, exactness and economy in a difficult perspective - even its lips and teeth are suggested (see also Fig.f); while the broad handling of the figures towards the right of Benesch 0482 recto (its verso being in group 2) seems close to the executioner in the present drawing (Benesch 0478) from group 3 (see Fig.c).

In Benesch 0482, the forceful power of the recto speaks 100% for Rembrandt, quite apart from the delicacy and refinement of the underlying executioner and two figures on the verso. The latter are stylistically consistent with Benesch 0479; and Benesch 0479, as we have seen, is linked to Benesch 0478 (in the corpse and heads below). Only Benesch 0480 stands more apart – although also of high quality. The background onlookers (see Fig.d) resemble the figures in Benesch 0478-79 (and, as Benesch noted in 1955/73, Benesch 0386), but they lack the expressive force and extreme delicacy, for example, of the figures on the right of Benesch 0479. The remainder of the drawing (Benesch 0480), is handled more liquidly, yet St John himself is clearly based on Benesch 0477 and the related etching, though has yet sweeter, almost sentimental expression. His arms are slightly more raised, however, as they are (in varying degrees) in Benesch 0478-79 and Benesch 0482 verso. For these reasons, Benesch 0480 seems likely to be a pupil’s derivation, albeit of high quality, made at around the same time. There are a few bolder strokes in the executioner in Benesch 0480 that might have been added by Rembrandt as corrections (see the detail illustration of Benesch 0480): in the back of the head, the alignment of the neck (front and back), in the nearer sleeve and the hands, in a line that descends through the stomach, at the hip (adjusting the line of the right buttock) and in both legs. These bolder lines seem more trenchant and confident.

Also of note is the fact that the kneeling figures in Benesch 0478, Benesch 0479 and Benesch 0482 verso are all hooded or blindfolded, covering the eyes, which the figure of St John usually is not; in the two drawings that definitely show the saint (Benesch 0477 and Benesch 0480) his face remains visible (unhooded) and is bearded, as was customary. As mentioned above, therefore, it is clearly arguable that the former three drawings (those with the eyes covered) show another subject. The prisoners in Benesch 0478, Benesch 0479 and Benesch 0482 verso also lack the beards that are normal for a St John the Baptist (though Benesch 0482 verso is not completely clear in this respect: his eyes are drawn in, and the ‘hood’ may either be an afterthought, or the crossbar of the oval form that was widely used for initiating drawings of heads). The fully decapitated heads in Benesch 0478-79 are not hooded, however (perhaps suggesting that the same hood was re-used for them all).

Both Benesch 0477 and Benesch 0482 (especially the verso) are taken to be documentary drawings, because both were supposed to be connected with the etching of the Beheading of St John the Baptist. For Benesch 0477, this seems incontrovertible, but it could well be that the three drawings with hooded figures (Benesch 0478, Benesch 0479 and Benesch 0482 verso) and in which the executioner is seen from a different angle and/or pose than in Rembrandt’s etching, all depict the Beheading of the Anabaptist Martyrs (see Dickey, 1995 and 1996), as already suggested above for Benesch 0478. As well as the difference in the hood and the lack of a beard, there is also a slight difference in the poses of the kneeling figures (see Fig.a): the “St Johns”, Benesch 0477 and Benesch 0480, are similar enough, although the arms are higher in the latter, as they are - to some extent - in Benesch 0478, Benesch 0479, and Benesch 0482 verso. While not undermining the attribution of Benesch 0482, the quality of which would seem unparalleled in a pupil’s works, the connection with the etching, if the drawing does not show St John, is undermined and its “documentary” status is therefore a little insecure (which is why the asterisk denoting documentary status for Benesch 0482 is here placed in brackets).

Another suggestion has been made concerning the second iconography: the Beheading of the Tarquinian Conspirators, proposed by Benesch (1955/73) for both Benesch 0478 and Benesch 0479. In another scene of Execution (Benesch 0485a) the story of the Old Testament Saul was proposed by Benesch (loc. cit.) and Haverkamp-Begemann (1961), but Dickey (1995-96) rejected these identifications and plausibly categorises it as another scene of Mennonite Execution (see further under Benesch 0485a). As so often with the productions of Rembrandt and his workshop, the iconographic problem may not be resolved definitively and no new speculations are added here (only an attempt to illuminate the of the existing ones). It may be that the subject of the Beheading of St John the Baptist emerged from studies of another execution, or vice-versa. Given the interconnectedness of the drawings, Benesch 477-80, Benesch 482 (where the sketch of Christ Carried to the Tomb may have been made later than the studies on the sane sheet for a beheading) and Benesch 0485a were probably all made either at approximately the same time as Benesch 0477 and the related etching of 1640, or possibly a little later (as suggested under Benesch 0482 below, for stylistic reasons).

In two of the drawings, Benesch 0478 and Benesch 0479 (on the left), there is a soldier supporting the victim, though ducking his own head to stay clear of the executioner’s blade. In the case of Benesch 0478, this figure appears flat and insecurely modelled and the wash is applied here without Rembrandt’s customary exactness. A similar result obtains in some of the background figures in Benesch 0480 (see the child at the right of the detail of Benesch 0480 shown in Fig.d, which has much in common with the 'ducking' soldier in Benesch 0478 shown on the right of the same illustration): together these two drawings appear likely to be largely or wholly the work of a pupil in Rembrandt’s studio. In the case of Benesch 0478, the underlying pen description of the executioner in fine lines is retried so often – there are ten attempts at his left shoulder - that it reinforces the notion that a pupil was responsible for much of the initial drawing (see Fig.e). But the broader lines in the executioner and in other parts of Benesch 0478 (especially the legs of the kneeling victim), which are drawn in a slightly darker, less warm-toned ink, and with more verve and confidence, suggest that Rembrandt retouched the drawing in a manner that resembles his touch in Benesch 0482 recto, as well as in other liquidly-drawn Rembrandt studies of the 1640s, for example, the documentary drawings Benesch 0185, Benesch 0188, Benesch 0190 and Benesch 0736 (the seated boy on the left; the dog). For the legs of the prisoner, compare those of Jacob in Benesch 0095, the nearer figure in Benesch 100 verso as well as those of Christ in Benesch 0482 recto.

As for the identity of the pupil, the probable answer is Ferdinand Bol, for whom compare Benesch 0285a and Benesch 0431 – perhaps also Benesch 0527.[6] The corpse at the lower left looks to have been based on that in Benesch 0479 (which is by Rembrandt himself); but for the heads on the right, the quality, as we have seen, might speak for another intervention by Rembrandt, this time in the style he was himself employing in Benesch 0479 (see Figs.b and f; in the latter we juxtapose a comparable head by Bol, but the touch is less varied and refined). The head on the right, especially, with the details of the facial features and the scalp drawn with extreme sensitivity and with the lightest of touches (even conveying the open mouth and teeth within it) and in a difficult perspective, seems close to inseparable from Rembrandt’s own handling of the head in Benesch 0479 and that of the executioner underlying Benesch 0482 recto (see the top of the detail of this drawing at Fig.g).

Two sketches of the same scene by another, weaker pupil are on a sheet in Munich (Fig.h).[7] To judge from the position of the kneeling soldier beyond the victim, this pupil sat slightly to the left of the draughtsman of Benesch 0478. Rembrandt himself, while drawing Benesch 0479, was seated still more to the left, and yet further to the left when making Benesch 0482 verso which, to judge from the position of the victim’s knees as well as the tentative style, may have been drawn first. Another school version in Turin (inv.16448a; Valentiner 280; Sumowski 1276Axx), which may date from c.1650, appears to be a derivation: the victim is drawn from a vantage-point almost 180 degrees from the draftsman of Benesch 0478, while the executioner is seen from the same angle as in Benesch 0482 (see Fig.i; a copy is in the Louvre, inv. RF 4689). Another pupil’s variant (which has also been disfigured by later grey wash) of c.1650 is in Edinburgh (Fig.j).[8] Benesch 0859 shows a kneeling figure posed like the St John in Benesch 0477, Benesch 0478 and Benesch 0480, but is again a later drawing of the 1650s. A similarly posed “executioner” appears as he slaughters an ox in Benesch A18 of c.1635 (see under the ‘Not in Benesch’ tab)[9] and there is a further variant of the Beheading of St John the Baptist by Samuel van Hoogstraten, which seems to take its cue from Benesch 0479 and Benesch 0482 verso.[10]

In summary, as well as the documentary drawing, Benesch 0477 (qv), both Benesch 0479 and Benesch 0482 (recto and verso) appear to be by Rembrandt, and Benesch 0482 may have been drawn on first, or at least before all but Benesch 0477. Benesch 0478 and Benesch 0480 appear to a large extent to be by Ferdinand Bol, though with some boldly drawn corrections that are likely to be by Rembrandt himself, who may also have helped with the heads at the bottom right of Benesch 0478 (which compare very closely with the equivalent head in Benesch 0479).[11] Benesch 0478, Benesch 0479, Benesch 0482 and Benesch 0485a, at least, probably relate to the subject of the Martyrdom of the Anabaptists in Amsterdam in 1559 (on which see further under Benesch 0485a).

Condition: Good (apart from the later grey wash).

Summary attribution: Ferdinand Bol? Retouched by Rembrandt.

Date: c.1640.

COLLECTION: USA New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman collection (inv.1975.1.791).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, 1947, no.109, repr. (c.1640; subject is the Beheading of the Tarquinian Conspirators); Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.478, repr. fig.596/633 (c.1640; connects with St John the Baptist etching [see under Benesch 0477, Fig.a]; also connects with Benesch 0479 and Benesch 0482; may represent the Beheading of the Tarquinian Conspirators); Exh. New York, 1964, p.31; White and Boon, 1969, under no. B92; Volskaya, 1970, pp.88, 93 and 96; Roberts, 1976, pl.39; Konstam, 1977, p.94, repr. fig.35 ([as in Rijksmuseum collection] same scene from another angle in Benesch 0479); Konstam, 1978, pp.24-25, repr. fig.2; Exh. New York, 1979-80, no.31, repr.; Logan, 1980, p.58; Amsterdam, 1985, under no.19, repr. fig.19c (probably by a pupil); Exh. New York, 1985; Mules, 1985, p.18, repr.; Alpers, 1988, p.43, repr. fig.2.16; Exh. Berlin-Amsterdam-London, 1991-92.I, p.74, under no.19, repr. p.77, fig.19e (as Amsterdam, 1985 but credits the British Museum as the owner); Exh. London, 1992, under no.35, repr. fig.35b (rather in the manner of Bol); Dickey, 1995, pp.58-61 and n.52, repr. fig.9 (pupil or copy after Rembrandt; subject is the Beheading of Anabaptist Martyrs); Exh. New York, 1995-96, vol.2, no.73, repr. (school of Rembrandt); Dickey, 1996, p.96, n.11 (as Dickey, 1995); New York, 1999, no.77, repr. (school of Rembrandt; depicts Beheading of Anabaptist Martyrs); Munich inv.1455 by the same hand); Rutgers, 2004, p.156 (relates to Rembrandt’s etchings [see under Benesch 0477, Fig.a]; part of exercise in moving figures around composition, as Benesch 0477, Benesch 0479 and Benesch 0482); London, 2010 (online), under no.32; Exh. Paris-Ajaccio, 2012-14, under no.28 (see n.10 below); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Count A. de Robiano; his sale, Amsterdam, Muller-Mensing, 15-16 June, 1926, lot 453; A.W.M. Mensing; his sale, Amsterdam, Muller-Mensing, 27-29 April, 1937, lot 555; sale, Bern, Kornfeld and Klipstein, 27 May, 1964, lot 245, repr. as frontis., bt Lock Galleries for Robert Lehman, by whom presented to the present repository, 1975.

[1] First transcribed in New York, 1999, no.77. Stephanie Dickey succeeded in Googling the publication referred to (much diminishing the compiler's self-confidence in his Googling skills), identifying it as an eighteenth-century inscription, referring as it does to Johann Franz Budde[us] (1667–1729), Historia ecclesiastica veteris testamenti, 2 vols, Halle, 1715–19 (e-mail to the compiler, 20 June 2020).

[2] This is disputed by Dickey, 1996, who argues in support of her theory that Mennonite martyrs are depicted, that three martyrdoms are shown, as Rembrandt would not show the events in a right/left/centre sequence, which shed describes as uncharacteristic of Rembrandt (but without citing examples). She also notes the affinity to a drawing by Guercino of the rare subject of the Beheading of Sts John and Paul in Rome in c.361-63, now in the Morgan Library (inv. I, 101h-i; online at: http://corsair.themorgan.org/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=140892 [accessed 20 June 2020]). His related painting of the double-martydom of 1637-42 is in the Musée des Augustins, Toulouse (inv.2004 1 53; viewable at https://www.augustins.org/en/les-collections/peintures/xviie/panorama-des-oeuvres [accessed 20 June 2020]). I am grateful to Prof. Dickey for commenting on these entries when in draft (Benesch 0477-485a; e-mail to the compiler, 20 June 2020).

[3] Baldinucci, 1808 ed., p.195. The Uffizi Self-Portrait is Bredius 60; Wetering 322 and thought to have been painted in the last year of Rembrandt’s life (1669). See also Dickey, 1995 and 1996 (and n.4 below).

[4] See Dickey, 1995 and 1996, and in Exh. New York, 1995-96, no.73. As she points out, the drawings that may depict the Anabaptist Martyrdoms belong to the period of Rembrandt’s drawn, etched and painted portraits of the Mennonite teacher, Cornelis Claesz. Anslo (to be discussed under Benesch 0758-59). She also illustrates Jan Luyken's depiction of the Execution of the Mennonite Martyrs Pieter Jansz and his Co-Religionists in Amsterdam on 20 March, 1549, which shows the victims as hooded in a similar way (an illustration to T.J. van Braght, Het Bloedig Tooneel of Martelaers Spiegel der Doopsgesinde of Weereloose Christenen, Amsterdam, 1685, II, p.83 (repr. Dickey, 1995, p.47, fig.3 and 1996, p.85, fig.1).

[5] Van Hoogstraten, 1678, p.192 called this practice a Kamerspel.

[6] I marked my copy of Benesch “Bol?” back in 1986 for the present drawing and the same for Benesch 0527 in the following year. Compare also Benesch 0386, as suggested by Benesch, 1955/73. There are also links to the Angel Appearing to Hagar in the Rijksmuseum.

[7] Munich, 1973, no.1168, inv.1455; ; repr. New York, 1999, fig.77.2.

[8] Edinburgh, National Galleries of Scotland, inv. D 2887, drawn in pen and brown ink with brown and later grey wash, touched with (oxidised) white heightening, 176 x 249. A still weaker school version is in the Draiflessen collection, Mettingen (see Bolten and Folmer-van Oven, 1989, no.82, repr., and https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/297874).

[9] Another variant or copy by a pupil of c.1650 was on the Dutch art market c.2018. It shows the executioner as in the Turin version (fig.i) with the victim in profile to right; the scene is decked out further to the right with around seven onlookers under a portico. Pen and brown ink, brown wash, some black chalk, brown ink framing lines, watermark Strasbourg lily with ‘4WR’ underneath,1 147 x 207 mm (https://www.old-master-drawing.com/home/product/view/13/98.html accessed 16 May 2020).

[10] In the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris (inv. M 1927) - see Exh. Paris-Ajaccio, 2012-14, no.28, repr. (Sumowski 1212x).

[11] As mentioned above, the closest I can find in a drawing usually attributed to Bol is the head of the young Tobias just above the hands in the lower centre of Benesch 0492 - see Fig.f.

First posted 21 May 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0479

Subject: Three Scenes of a Beheading (Anabaptist Martyrs?)

Verso: See inscriptions

Medium: Pen and brown ink, corrected with white; framing lines in pen and brown ink.

Pen and brown ink. Inscribed lower right, in pen and brown ink (possibly by Antonie Rutgers Az., 1695-1778 - see Haarlem, 1997, p.308, and Literature and Provenance below).: “Rembrandt fect:” [the final 't' in superscript]; verso, in graphite: “5” [in a circle]'; “16” [underlined]' and lower left “No.219 [?] /Pf20”.

153 x 226. Watermark: Basel crozier in crowned shield, resembling Voorn 1 (1640) and Tschudin 226 (1637), but with letters 'HD'.; chain lines:

COMMENTS: See under Benesch 0478. In summary, it is there argued that the drawing is by Rembrandt, and that because the executioner on the left and to the right appear to depict the same model, the drawing probably represents the Beheading of St John the Baptist, as Benesch 0477 and the etching for which it is a study (qv). However, the victims here are beardless and one is blindfolded (as in Benesch 0478), so that another subject may have been in view, one plausible suggestion being the Beheading in Amsterdam of Three Anabaptist Martyrs in November 1559, an event that may also have inspired Benesch 0485a (qv; see Dickey, 1995 and 1996).

Rembrandt’s 1640 etching of the Beheading of St John the Baptist was probably made at around the same time (as also the above-mentioned preparatory study for it, Benesch 0477). Also contemporaneous and made or inspired by a joint study of scenes of beheading by Rembrandt and his pupils (based on models posing in the studio) are another drawing by Rembrandt, Benesch 0482 recto (the executioner only is visible beneath the study of Christ Carried to the Tomb) and verso (probably made before Benesch 0479 in which the figures are more resolved), and two further, school drawings, Benesch 0478 and Benesch 0480, that were probably made by Ferdinand Bol, though both were likely corrected and retouched by Rembrandt. In the case of Benesch 0478, Rembrandt probably also added the decapitated heads below, which closely resemble the decapitated head here (in Benesch 0479). Benesch 0478 is the most likely to represent the Beheading of the Anabaptist Martyrs in Amsterdam in 1559, along with Benesch 0485a (qv), but could also have been intended for Benesch 0479.[1]

It has been noted that the right-hand group resembles the three central figures in Rembrandt's earlier red chalk drawing of 'Christ shown to the People' in Dresden (Benesch 0135).[2]

Condition: Probably trimmed along right edge; greyish stains where attached to mount; slight foxing.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1640.

COLLECTION: GB London, British Museum (inv. 1860,0616.130).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Vosmaer, 1877, p.602; Middleton, 1878, p.203, under no.209 (left group resembles the etching; notes the study for the latter, Benesch 0477); Dutuit, IV, 1885, p.86 (an 'Execution'); Seidlitz, 1895/1922, p.82/141, under no.92 (not especially close to the etching); Exh. London, 1899, no.A34; Lippmann, IV, no.83; Kleinmann, IV, no.11; Bell, c.1905, repr.pl.XX; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.892; Wurzbach, 1910, p.417; Hind, 1912/24, under no.171 (follows Seidlitz, 1895, but sees Benesch 0482 as a study for the etching); London, 1915, no.55 (c.1635-40; compares etching); Paris, 1933, p.50, under no.1265 (groups with Benesch 0482 and 0477; notes Turin version, inv. V.280, of which a copy in Louvre); Valentiner, II, 1934, no.543, repr. (c.1640; perhaps depicts the 'Death of St James the Great'); Benesch, 1935, p.30 (1640; compares sketch on verso of Benesch 0482); Benesch, 1935.I, p.264 (resembles etching); Exh. London, 1938, no.55 (c.1635-40); Amsterdam, 1942, p.11, under no.25 (relates to Benesch 0482 verso); Benesch, 1947, p.28, under no.109 (relates to Benesch 0478 and Benesch 0482 verso; subject identified as the Beheading of Tarquinian Conspirators); Münz, 1952, II, p.98, under no.209 (attribution doubtful; Benesch 482 perhaps a study for the British Museum drawing); Benesch, 3, 1955/73. no.479, repr. fig.600/635 (c.1640; compares to Benesch 0477-78 and Benesch 0482 verso; represents Beheading of Tarquinian Conspirators); Exh. London, 1956, p.26, no.2 (follows Benesch, 1947); Benesch, 1959, p.311, repr. fig.5, reprinted 1970, p.214, repr. fig.176 (elaborates on identification as the Beheading of Tarquinian Conspirators); London, 1961, p.22, under no.187 (groups with Benesch 0485a, following Isarlo in 'Arts', 125, 1947); Scheidig, 1962, p.44 and no.43, repr. (successive incidents represented; for the etching; see also text related to n.2 below); Krönig, 1965, pp.102 and 108 (before the etching); Slive, 1965, II, no.532, repr. (c.1640, probably for the etching); Clark, 1966, pp.67-8, repr. fig.59 (for the etching; executioner based on Leonardo's 'Trattato' as illustrated under Poussin's direction, published only in 1651, but Sandrart had a MS copy in Amsterdam in 1637; similar figure in Benesch A18, 'Two Men slaughtering an Ox', Munich); Haverkamp-Begemann, 1966-67, pp.306-7 (perhaps based on Lucas rather than Leonardo and Poussin, pace Clark, 1966); Gerson, 1968, repr. p.465, fig.f (of 'Beheading of Baptist'); Exh. Amsterdam, 1969, no.60 (1640; represents 'Beheading of the Baptist'); Neufeld, 1970, p.177, n.4 (successive incidents represented; for the etching); Exh. Vienna, 1970-71, p.78, under no.126 (relates with other sheets to the etching); Campbell, 1971, p.258 (perhaps inspired by Roman reliefs); Bernhard, 1976, II, repr. p.270; Broos, 1977, p.109 (quoting Clark, 1966); Konstam, 1977, p.94, repr. p.96, fig.34 (the two groups drawn from the same models; group in Benesch 0478 in same pose but seen from the side); Konstam, 1978, p.24, repr. fig.1 (as in 1977); Amsterdam, 1985, pp.42-3, under no.19, repr. p.45, fig.19b (perhaps drawn from models posed in the studio; compares Benesch 482 and 478); Alpers, 1988, repr. fig.2, 17; Exh. Berlin-Amsterdam-London, 1991-2, pp.74-77, repr. fig.19e; Exh. London, 1992, no.35, repr. (c.1640; three moments in the same event); Dickey, 1995, pp.58-60, nn.52-53, repr. fig.8 (Anabaptist martyrdom probably represented; probably owned by Rutgers, a Mennonite); Exh. New York, 1995-6, p.180 under no.73, repr. fig.96; Dickey, 1996, pp.96-98, repr. fig.6 (as Dickey, 1995, adding that, pace Exh. London, 1992, the drawing does not show a sequence of one martyrdom because it would not read from right to left to centre as here); Haarlem, 1997, p.308 (inscription possibly by 'Abraham' Rutgers Az. [i.e. Antonie Rutgers Az.]); New York, 1999, pp.243-6, under no.77, repr. fig.77.1 (“undeniably” by Rembrandt); Rutgers, 2004, p.156 (relates to Rembrandt’s 1640 etching of St John the Baptist [see under Benesch 0477, Fig.a]; part of exercise in moving figures around composition, as Benesch 0477, Benesch 0478 and Benesch 0482); London, 2010 (online), no.32, repr. (c.1640); Schatborn, 2019, no.64, repr. (c.1640).

PROVENANCE: Probably Antonie Rutgers Az.; his sale, Amsterdam, 1 December, 1778, lot 688; 'Een Onthoofding, met zeven Beelden, met de pen getekend', sold to Fouquet; Samuel Woodburn sale, Christie’s, 10th day, 14 June, 1860, lot 1529, bt Tiffin for the present repository.

[1] See Benesch, 1947 and 1955/73, suggested the Execution of the Tarquinian Conspirators (Livy, II, 4); Valentiner, 1934, suggested the Death of St James the Great. It was Dickey, 1995 and 1996, who raised the probability that the Anabaptist martyrs are represented (supported by Haverkamp-Begemann in New York, 1999). She also notes that Antonie Rutgers, probably a previous owner of the drawing, was a prominent Mennonite (quoting Van Eeghen, 1975 and Dudok van Heel, 1982).

[2] Scheidig, 1962. Schatborn, in Amsterdam, 1985 and Amsterdam, 2017, suggests that of the three figures on the right, the leftmost, apparently supporting the victim, could be a priest.

First posted 21 May 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0480

Subject: The Beheading of St John the Baptist

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown and grey wash (in two tones), touched with white heightening (in the executioner's sword and near the lower corners) on paper with a slightly pinkish tone; ruled framing lines in pen and brown ink (some unruled framing lines at lower three edges also). Inscribed verso by C. Ploos van Amstel in pen and brown ink: “h. 6 1/4 / b: 3 3/4 / Rembrand f / geb: Lyderdorp 1696 / gest: Amsterdam 1678” and numbered lower left by another hand: “46”

163 x 255. Watermark: none; chain lines: 25-26h.

COMMENTS: This set piece, pictorial drawing was almost certainly made in c.1640 in the context of Benesch 0477-79 and Benesch 0482 verso (and the slight sketch of an executioner underlying the study for Christ Carried to the Tomb, on the recto) and the related etching by Rembrandt of the The Beheading of St John the Baptist, of 1640 (repr. under Benesch 0477, Fig.a). For the main discussion of the group (including the present drawing), see under Benesch 0478 (qv). In style, Benesch 0480 appears to be closer to Benesch 0478 than to the other three drawings.

In summary, the drawing differs markedly in style from Rembrandt's own works of this period, including Benesch 0477 and Benesch 0479, or such drawings as the Jacob and his Sons (Benesch 0541, dated c.1641 by Schatborn in Amsterdam, 1985, no.17 and in Schatborn, 2019, no.68) or the Christ Carried to the Tomb in the same institution (Benesch 0482 recto, which is also partly discussed under Benesch 0478 because the sheet contains related sketches for a beheading). On the other hand, like Benesch 0478, Benesch 0480 resembles works by Ferdinand Bol and must stand as one of his most accomplished drawings, made near the end of his apprenticeship with Rembrandt, c.1640 or perhaps a little later. A comparison with works such as Benesch 0386 (the figures on the left)[1] and other drawings mentioned under Benesch 0478, all lead to this conclusion. Bol would have been inspired primarily by Rembrandt’s etching of the same subject, but was apparently part of the group of students studying an execution together with Rembrandt at the same time (see under Benesch 0478).

However, some of the boldest strokes of the pen appear to be corrections by Rembrandt (see the detail illustrated here): in the back of the head, the alignment of the neck (front and back), in the nearer sleeve and the hands, in a line that descends through the stomach, at the hip (adjusting the line of the right buttock) and in both legs (see also under Benesch 0478, Fig.g). In style these corrections are close to Rembrandt’s liquid drawings of the 1640s, including Benesch 0482 recto and Benesch 0736.

A copy is in Besançon (inv. D.2645).

Condition: Generally good and fresh; some of the white heightening (lead white) beginning to oxidise; the verso somewhat discoloured apart from near the edges; traces of an old mounting tab.

Summary attribution: Ferdinand Bol, retouched by Rembrandt.

Date: c.1640 (or later?).

COLLECTION: Private Collection.

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Exh. Frankfurt, 1926, no. 358 (end of 1630s); Kauffmann, 1926, p.171; Valentiner, II, 1934, no.279, repr.; Exh. Bern, 1937, no.187; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.480, repr. fig. 601/636 (c.1640; compares Benesch 0386 and the etching [see under Benesch 0477, fig.a]); records attribution to Rembrandt written on the mat by F.A. van Scheltema, 1883, and Bode’s opinion that the drawing is contemporary with the Night Watch of 1642 [Bredius 410; Wetering 190); Sumowski, 1961, p. 8; Sumowski, 1964, p. 33-34; Exh. London, 1992, under no.35 (perhaps Ferdinand Bol); Dickey, 1995, p.59, n.52; Dickey, 1996, p.96, n.11; New York, 1999, under no.77, nn.3 and 16 (by a different hand to Benesch 0478); London, 2010 (online) under no.38; [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Cornelis Ploos van Amstel (his inscriptions, L.3002 and L.3004); Jacob de Vos Jacobszoon (L.1450); probably his sale, Amsterdam, Roos et al, 22-24 May, 1883, bt William Pitcairn Knowles (L.2643); Pieter Langerhuizen (L.2095; nephew of J. de Vos above); sale, Amsterdam, Muller, 15-16 June, 1926, lot 433; Robert von Hirsch, Basel; his sale, London, Sotheby's, 20 June, 1978, lot 40; sale, London, Sotheby’s, 9 April, 1981, lot 94, repr.; John R. Gaines; his sale, New York, Sotheby's, 17 November 1986, lot 18 repr. (as Rembrandt, but with a saleroom notice stating that an alternative attribution to Ferdinand Bol had been proposed [presumably by Peter Schatborn and the present writer]);[2] Alfred Taubman; his sale, New York, Sotheby’s, 27 January, 2016, lot 24 (as Ferdinand Bol), sold for $150,000.

[1] As proposed by Benesch, 1955/73.

[2] In 1986 I first marked my copy of Benesch with a tentative attribution to Bol.

First posted 21 May 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0480a

Subject: The Beheading of St John the Baptist

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown wash. Inscribed lower left in pen and brown ink by a later hand: “Rembrant”

216 x 196.

COMMENTS: The drawing, for the most part insecure in the details as well as the characterisations, is somewhat loosely drawn, although the more hesitant, bitty penwork in the underdrawing of the saint’s corpse, visible lower centre, is more precise. In general, the manner is reminiscent of the "Carel Fabritius" group (for which see Benesch 0500) more than Benesch 0487 (the comparison made by Benesch, 1955/73) and reflects that of Rembrandt in the mid-1640s, as in the Star of the Kings, Benesch 0736. For style, compare Benesch 0506, with its similar combination of thin penlines and thickly applied accents.[1]

The few touches with the reed pen above the spectator at the upper centre seem close to Rembrandt himself in the 1650s, perhjap[s suggestive for the date, which we tentatively place c.1650.

Condition: Generally good; a large water spot defaces the back of the executioner; there is a slight nick in the paper at the top left corner.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date: c.1650.

COLLECTION: USA Worcester, Worcester Art Museum (inv.1956.99).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.480a, repr. (c.1640; relates especially to Benesch 0480, also to Benesch 0477-79 and Benesch 0487); Sadik, 1957, p.26; Krönig, 1965, p.108, nn.7 and 9; Wheelock, 1983, p.294, nn.9-10; Dickey, 1995, p.59, n.52; Dickey, 1996, p.96, n.11; [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Bernard Houthakker (dealer, Amsterdam), from whom purchased by the present repository in 1956.

[1] Cf. also the Adoration of the Shepherds in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (inv. RP-T-1883-A-217; Amsterdam, 1985, no.62, repr.).

First posted 21 May 2020 (when described as School of Rembrandt (Ferdinand Bol??), corrected by Rembrandt) and revised with the current attribution 18 September 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0481

Subject: A Woman Kneeling and Bowing Low

Medium: Pen and brown ink (in two shades, the paler probably drawn with a reed pen) on pale brownish paper.

82 x 86 (arched at top).

COMMENTS: The drawing - known mostly through poor illustrations only until being put online - is close in style to works attributed to Willem Drost, but the quality is more commensurate with Rembrandt’s own drawings of the early 1650s: it partakes of the subtlety and variety of touch seen, for example, in Benesch 0948A and Benesch 0885, and the refined, dryly-applied hatching resembles the shading in Benesch 1043. Drost’s drawings generally lack the extreme delicacy seen here, with harsher results – compare his drawings Benesch 0893, Benesch 0944, Benesch 0955 recto, Benesch 1027, Benesch 1104 and Benesch 1164 (see Fig.a).

A noticeable feature of the drawing is the presence of two tones of brown ink, one darker, apparently applied with a quill pen, and a lighter shade that appears to be drawn with a reed pen. Could it be that the reed pen touches are by Rembrandt correcting Drost? On balance we prefer to assign the drawing entirely to Rembrandt himself, as the comparisons above suggest that that is the correct conclusion. The combination of two tones and of more liquid with dryer strokes is also found in Rembrandt, as in Benesch 0913 and Benesch 1064.

Saxl (1939) followed by Benesch (1955/73) suggested plausibly that the figure could have been intended for a depiction of the Offering of Manoah, although she might also find her place in other iconographies as well.[1]

Condition: Good; a few minor stains; trimmed slightly irregularly (especially top right and lower left).

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1652.

COLLECTION: USA Northampton (Mass.), Smith College Museum of Art (inv. SC 1959.161).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, 1925, p.29 (perhaps a study for the Hundred Guilder Print); Valentiner, I, 1925, no.140, repr. (c.1640); Exh. Frankfurt, 1926, no.359; Saxl, 1939, p.11, n.1 (school of Rembrandt; shows Manoah's wife); Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.481, repr. (c.1640-41; compares for date Benesch 0477; probably for an Offering of Manoah, noting painting of 1641, Bredius 509); Exh. New York-Cambridge, 1960, no.37, repr. pl.31 (c.1640-41; perhaps shows Woman with an Issue of Blood, or the Canaanite Woman); Sumowski, Drawings, V, 1981, under no.1108 (Perhaps shows Ruth from the Old Testament); Corpus, 3, 1989, C83 (by Drost; [see also n.1 below]); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Private collection; their sale (6 Zeichnungen aus Frankfurter Privatbesitz), Frankfurt, Baer, 3 may, 1921, lot 1; Tony Strauss-Negbaur; his sale, Berlin, Cassirer-Helbing, 25-26 November, 1930 [?], lot 82, repr. pl.xx (dated c.1650 by Rosenberg); gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard C. Harrison (Ruth Leonard, class of 1910) to the present repository, 1959.

[1] Benesch dated the drawing c.1641 because of the “dated” painting of the Offering of Manoah in Dresden, which bears a “Rembrandt” signature and date of that year. But the signature is clearly dubious, the painting was convincingly ascribed to Willem Drost by Corpus, 3, no.C83, and there is no connection with Benesch 0481 (but there probably is with Benesch 0976). Other possible subjects for such a submissive figure (two ventured by Haverkamp-Begemann in Exh. New York-Cambridge, 1960, no.37 - see Literature above) are Hagar and the Angel, Christ and the Woman with an Issue of Blood (cf. Benesch 1052), the Canaanite Woman (Matthew, XV, 25) and perhaps even Christ with the Magdalene after the Resurrection (cf. Benesch 0537-38). Sumowski, Drawings, V, 1985, under no.1108, suggested Ruth (for whom see Benesch 0133, Benesch 0162 and Benesch 0175).

First posted 21 May 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0482

Subject: Christ Carried to the Tomb (over a sketch of an executioner) with a Weeping Woman

Verso: An Executioner Beheading a Prisoner

Medium: Pen and brown ink; ruled framing lines in pen and brown ink. Inscribed verso, upper right, by Hofstede de Groot, in graphite: “f. njz.-” ; lower right, in pencil, with the Hofstede de Groot cat. no.: “1274”; upper left (with the sheet turned 90°), in pen and brown ink, “f ”; lower right, possibly in the same hand, in pen and brown ink: “1440 / ”

156 x 201 (the lower left corner made up). Watermark: none; chain lines: 25v.

COMMENTS: The verso and, on the recto, the figure of an executioner that is visible underneath the sketch of Christ Carried to the Tomb, are mainly discussed under Benesch 0478 (the executioner on the recto is visible at the top of the detail repr. under Benesch 0478, Fig.g, second from the left). In summary, together with Benesch 0477-79, they resemble the arrangement of figures in Rembrandt’s etching of the Beheading of St John the Baptist, of 1640 (Bartsch 92; NH 183; repr. under Benesch 0477, Fig.a). The present, fine-line sketches may have been drawn first, as is suggested by their tentative quality and by the fact that the pose of the victim differs (e.g. in the position of the knees) from that in Benesch 0477 and the related etching. It is possible, however, that another beheading was in Rembrandt’s mind when he made the present sketch, as also Benesch 0478-79, as the prisoner is apparently hooded and not bearded (cf. Benesch 0477 and the etching, where – as was customary – St John is neither hooded nor bearded). Thus the connection with the etching is not watertight, somewhat weakening its status as a “documentary” drawing (which is why the asterisk denoting documentary drawings is in this instance placed in brackets under "Summary attribution" below).

All these drawings were probably made from models posed in the studio as they were sketched, from different angles – by Rembrandt and his pupils. Benesch 0478 and Benesch 0480 appear to be the work of Rembrandt’s pupil, Ferdinand Bol, but were corrected by Rembrandt himself. However, while Benesch 0480 also depicts the Beheading of St John the Baptist (and was inspired by Rembrandt’s etching), the subject of the present drawing and of Benesch 0478, which shows three decapitated heads, as also Benesch 0485a (qv), may have been different, likely the Beheading of Anabaptist Martyrs In Amsterdam in 1559.

Given the connection of the executioner on the recto with the 1640 etching, the bolder study of Christ Carried to the Tomb on the recto here, which seems to include the mourner on the left, standing slightly apart (separated by a curtain), must have been drawn later than Rembrandt’s paintings of the Entombment from between c.1633 and 1639: the grisaille, probably of c.1633-34, in Glasgow (Bredius 554; Wetering 114; see under Benesch 0017) and the painting from the Passion series of c.1635-39 commissioned by the Stadholder, Prince Frederick Henry of Orange (Bredius 560; Wetering 162; for the series, see under Benesch 0382, n.4). Indeed, this powerful sketch develops a more imaginative and dynamic concept for the composition, with Christ’s head upturned and lolling backwards towards the viewer, while his feet on the right move further into the picture space in perspective and are higher, as his corpse is carried up into the tomb. This exceptional arrangement may have been inspired by a composition by Rubens (see Fig.a; engraved in c.1640-50 by both Gillis Hendricx and Jan Witdoeck [Hollstein 6] and c.1652 for the Visscher Bible [Schneevoogt 55.397]).[1] But Rembrandt’s sketch was not to bear direct fruit except in drawings: Rembrandt’s later treatments of the related subject of the Entombment in his drawing based on the school of Raphael (Benesch 1208) and his etching of c.1654 (Bartsch 86; NH 284) tend to a more symmetrical, less dynamic and more contemplative arrangement.

The above-mentioned schism in style between this bold sketch and the delicacy of the penmanship in the executioner on the recto and in the figures of the verso suggests that it could be that it was drawn somewhat later. Certainly, the appearance of such a fully-fledged, more liquid style is a significant development away from Rembrandt’s style of c.1639-40 into the kind of handling encountered in such documentary drawings as Benesch 0188, Benesch 0736 and Benesch 0763, all of the mid-1640s, and even with works that are later still, such as Benesch 0887 of c.1650, where the style of hatching is closer than might be expected. Compare also, for example, the figure the left with those in the centre of Benesch A35a of 1644 [discussed under the 'Not in Benesch' tab], in which the diagonal hatching is also at times remarkably similar. Indeed, the style of Benesch 0482 contrasts with most other documentary drawings of the early 1640s, such as Benesch 0500a and Benesch 0759, and a later date would bring the drawing into closer proximity with Rembrandt’s 1645 etching of the subject, in which the composition is, yet again, thought anew in a more reflective mood (Bartsch 84; NH 223). However, while the door should remain open in order to admit such a possibility, the comparable style of the corrections by Rembrandt observed in Benesch 0478 and Benesch 0480 still admits the generally-accepted theory that Benesch 0482 recto also dates from c.1640, the date of the etched Beheading of the Baptist. It may stand, like Benesch 0292 (to some degree), as an adumbration of Rembrandt’s later, more liquid style, with which here, in the heart-rending description in just a few lines of the weeping woman on the left, he reaches for the epic pathos of the mourners of Christ created by such luminaries as Rogier van der Weyden, Mantegna and Michelangelo (see further the end of the entry on Benesch 0520).

Condition: Light foxing throughout; the lower left corner made up, cutting away the lower part of the weeping woman on the recto.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt(*).[2]

Date: c.1641 (the sketch of Christ Carried to the Tomb likely later, c.1645-47).

COLLECTION: NL Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum (L.2228; inv. RP-T-1930-28).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Michel, 1893, p.572; Exh. The Hague, 1902, no.67; Exh. Leiden, 1906, no.39; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no. 1274 (c. 1640; relates to etching, Bartsch 92; NH 183); Exh. Paris, 1908, no.361 (c.1640); Exh. Amsterdam, 1913, no.32; Teding van Berchout, 1913, no.9; Exh. Leiden, 1916, no.27 (1640); Hirschmann, 1917, p.15 (c.1640); Seidlitz, 1917, p.253 (Rembrandt?); Hind, 1923, under no.171; Exh. The Hague, 1930, no.27 (c.1640); Paris, 1933, under no.1265; Valentiner, II, 1934, no.502, repr. (c.1638-40); Benesch, 1935, p.34 (c.1640-41) and p.30 (verso 1640); Oxford, 1938, under no.184; Amsterdam, 1942, nos.48 and 25, repr. pl.6 (c.1639); Münz, 1952, under no.209; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.482, repr. (c.1640-41; relates to Benesch 0483-45; notes Turin and Munich versions [here discussed under Benesch 0478]); Exh. Rotterdam-Amsterdam, 1956, no.82 (c.1639); Sadik, 1957, p.26; Rosenberg, 1959, p.112 (1639); Haverkamp-Begemann, 1961, p.50; Sumowski, 1961, p.8; Krönig, 1965, pp.102 and 106 (1640); Neufeld, 1970, p.178 (verso 1640); Munich, 1973, under no.1377; Sumowski, Drawings, V, 1981, under no.1276Ax (verso); Amsterdam, 1985, no.19, repr. (c.1640-41; compares Benesch 0363; verso not done from life from the group that modelled for Benesch 0478-79, but done from scratch for the etching); Royalton-Kisch, 1990, p.134 (compares Benesch 0190, Benesch 0736 and Benesch 0543); Exh. Berlin-Amsterdam-London, 1991-92.I, no.19, repr.; Exh. London, 1992, under no. 35 (made immediately before Benesch 0479); Dickey, 1995, p.59, n.52 (mentions verso only, as part of the group of martydom drawings [discussed here under Benesch 0478]); Dickey, 1996, p.96, n.11 (as Dickey, 1995); Exh. Vienna, 2004, no.102, repr.; Rutgers, 2004, p.156 (relates to Rembrandt’s 1640 etching of St John the Baptist [see under Benesch 0477, Fig.a]; part of exercise in moving figures around composition, as Benesch 0477, Benesch 0478 and Benesch 0479); Exh. Amsterdam, 2006, pp.79-80 and 88, repr. figs.86 and 73; Exh. Paris, 2006-7, under no.27, repr. fig.42; London, 2010, under no.32; Paris 2010, under no.9; Royalton-Kisch, 2011, pp.98-99, n.11 (documentary drawing); Royalton-Kisch and Schatborn, 2011, no.45, repr. figs.51-52 (documentary drawing); Exh. Paris-Philadelphia-Detroit, 2011-12, pp. 110-11, repr. fig. 4.2; Exh. Glasgow, 2012, pp. 60-61, repr. fig.27; Berlin, 2018, under no. 117, repr. (inspired Benesch 0485); Schatborn, 2019, nos.60-61, repr. (c.1640; as Amsterdam, 1985).

PROVENANCE: Dirk Vis Blokhuyzen (1799-1869); his sale, Rotterdam, Lamme, 23/28 October, 1871 and following days, lot 500, bt S. Lamme, fl.11; Dr August Sträter (L.787); his sale, Stuttgart, Gutekunst, 10/14 May, 1898 and following days, lot 1176 (‘Die Grablegung Christi. Geniale Sepiaskizze. Auf der Rückzeite eine Studie zur Enthaubtung Johannis des Taüfers’), bt Matthey, DM80; Paul Mathey; P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., London, from whom purchased by Dr Cornelis Hofstede de Groot after 1900 (according to his notes in Koninklijk Bibliotheek) by whom presented to the present repository in 1906, with usufruct; transferred in 1930.

[1] See Corpus Rubenianum, VI, under no.71, copy no.1 (the painting here reproduced, from the Porgès, Von Nemès, Herzog and Angelopoulo collections), is the best of the several painted copies and variants listed but the original is unknown. The copy was last seen at a sale, London, Christie’s, 7 December, 2007, lot 116 as “attributed to” Rubens. Schatborn (Amsterdam, 1985, no.19) suggested a link with Dürer’s woodcut from the Small Passion (Bartsch 44) but the similarity is not as close.

[2] Although included as a documentary drawing by Royalton-Kisch and Schatborn, 2011, the connection between the underlying executioner on the recto as well as the figures on the verso, with the 1640 etching of the Beheading of St John the Baptist, is slightly indirect, as noted in the main text above and under Benesch 0478.

First posted 21 May 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0483

Subject: Christ Carried to the Tomb

Medium: Pen and brown ink, touched with white (in the lower centre); some accidental later brown wash across the centre of the sheet.[1]

250 x 184. Watermark: the letters JC (in ligature] with a crown above.

COMMENTS: The composition is related to Benesch 0482 recto (qv), but in the mise-en-scene it also reflects Rembrandt’s rather quieter and more contemplative treatment of the subject in his etching of 1645 of the same subject (Bartsch 84; NH 223). This combination of motifs from different Rembrandt sources suggests a pupil’s work and the attribution to Rembrandt has long been considered unpersuasive.[2] Unusual for Rembrandt would be the profusion of gestural accents which are difficult to read (at the top and to the right especially) and the lack of a point (or points) of focus. Perhaps the closest among Rembrandt’s drawings - although described here only as Rembrandt(?) - is Benesch 0139A of the mid-1650s (see Fig.a), which would seem at least to point to the date of the present drawing and to exclude the idea that it is a much later imitation.[3] In the broad figure-style as well as the bold lines in the background (including the undulating strokes, like the letter M, seen to the right and top left), there are also links to Benesch 0076 (Fig.b), here ascribed tentatively to Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, but this does not convince as by the same hand. But the latter’s style was significantly different after he left Rembrandt’s workshop in or soon after 1640. For these reasons we assign the drawing to the school of Rembrandt but, like Benesch 0139A, retain his own name as a (somewhat remote) possibility.

Condition: Generally good (apart from the brown stain noted under Medium above).

Summary attribution: School of Rembrandt/Rembrandt??

Date: 1650-55?

COLLECTION: D Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Kupferstich-Kabinett (L.1647; inv. C 1967-14).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Hofstede de Groot, 1890, p.8, no.41 (possibly genuine); Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.225 (early); Freise, Lilienfeld and Wichmann, 1925, no.31 (connects with sketches for painted Entombment for 1630s passion series [see under Benesch 0382, n.4]); Valentiner, II, 1934, no.501, repr. (as Freise, Lilienfeld and Wichmann, 1925); Benesch, 1935, p.24; Benesch, 3, 1957/73, no.483, repr. (c.1640-41, thus later than and not related to the passion series painting); Rosenberg, 1959, p.111 (late imitation); Exh. Dresden, 1960, no.17; Haverkamp-Begemann, 1961, p.50; Sumowski, 1961, p.8 (probably Bol, comparing Jacob’s Dream, Besançon, inv.2626 [Sumowski 92]); Exh. Dresden, 2004, no.92, repr. (school or imitator of Rembrandt); Berlin, 2018, under no.117 (later Rembrandt imitator). [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Acquired by the present repository before 1756.

[1] The brown wash is not visible in Benesch’s illustration, so was probably a result of an accident since the 1940s or ‘50s (perhaps coffee). It was certainly there when I studied the drawing in Dresden in early May, 1992.

[2] Beginning with Hofstede de Groot in 1890 (see Literature above). More recently, the harsh illustration in Benesch 1955/73 may not have helped.

[3] As was suggested by Rosenberg, 1959, p.111.

First posted 17 June 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0484

Subject: Christ Carried to the Tomb

Medium: Pen and brown ink, with later rework also in pen and pinkish-brown ink and with pinkish-brown wash; ruled framing lines in pen and brown ink.

194 x 189. Watermark: arms of Basel (cf. Vroom, 1, of c.1640).

COMMENTS: The drawing has been much reworked by a later hand, which created the fore- and background and also added wash – probably all of it - to the figures as well. In colour, the ink s/he employed was slightly pinkish, a departure from Rembrandt that suggests the 18th century. The same hand also reworked other drawings, including Benesch 0533.[1]

In style the drawing is not far from Benesch 0483, but yet more limply slack to a degree which discounts it for Rembrandt, despite a certain boldness. Compare also Benesch 0533 (probably by the same hand and which, as noted above, was reworked by the same, later hand) and Benesch 0536. The liquidity of the handling suggests a later date than has generally been surmised and the drawing might have been sketched by a pupil between c.1645-55. The possibility that the artist was the same as that responsible for Benesch 0483 cannot be fully dismissed, as the composition appears to develop from that drawing.

It is worthy of note that the drawing was already omitted from the catalogue of Rembrandt’s drawings by Hofstede de Groot, 1906.

Condition: A small piece of paper is stuck onto the verso, which also has a few strokes of brown wash

Summary attribution: School of Rembrandt.

Date: c.1650-55?

COLLECTION: NL Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (L.288; inv. MB 187 [PK]).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Rotterdam, 1852, no.756 (school of Rembrandt); Rotterdam, 1869, no.635; Falck, 1927, p.176, repr. fig.9 (copy after Rembrandt by P. Koninck); Paris, 1933, p.50, under no.1266; Benesch, 1935, p.50; Gerson, 1936, p.176, no.ZLXXVII; Benesch, II, 1955/73, no.484, repr. fog.606/640 (c.1640-41; lies between Benesch 0483 and Benesch 0485; Benesch 0533 retouched by the same hand); Rosenberg, 1959, pp.111-112 (by or close to P. Koninck); Haverkamp-Begemann, 1961, p.50; Sumowski, 1961, p.8; Rotterdam, 1969, p.53, repr. pl.108 (P. Koninck); Exh. Chicago-Minneapolis-Detroit, 1969-70, under no.184 (P. Koninck); Sumowski, Drawings, VI, 1982, no.1523xx (attributed to P. Koninck, c.1641-45); Rotterdam, 1988, no.161 (School of Rembrandt, c.1640-50). [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: F.J.O. Boijmans, by whom bequeathed to the present repository in 1847.

[1] As pointed out by Benesch, 1955/73.

First posted 17 June 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0485

Subject: Christ Carried to the Tomb

Medium: Pen and brown ink.

182 x 257. Watermark: Arms of Basel (cf. Laurentius, 301).

COMMENTS: The overall impression made by the drawing has suffered greatly from damage caused by the penetration of water, which has in particular weakened the lines in the central area to the left of Christ’s feet, the whole of the upper centre, encroaching into the topmost, bearded figure of St Joseph of Arimathea and the upper right area (see further under Condition below). As a result, the overall balance and especially the continuity between the two halves of the composition has been critically undermined: simply put, it looks rather a mess. Nevertheless, it remains clear that the composition develops out of Benesch 0482 recto, which as we have seen may date from somewhat later than c.1641, the date usually assigned to it.

Commentators on the drawing are faced with an unusually stark choice, which may be summarised as follows – albeit in rather black-and-white terms: is it a work, so loose, so scrawled, so uncontrolled and slack, so lacking in coherence, that it could only and at best be the work of a pupil? Or is it, on the contrary, of such powerful, liberated expression, so unconventional and free from influence and so lacking in inhibition, almost as if the draughtsman had leapt beyond the sphere of established practice, that it marks a decisive step, not only for Rembrandt, but in the whole history of drawing, anticipating not only the French Romantics of the nineteenth century but also even the free idiosyncrasies explored by artists of the 20th century? If the latter, it can only be the work of a revolutionary, original mind, bringing with it the intimation that only Rembrandt could come into contention. Both responses – thus laid out in their extreme form – have their merits.

Taking into account the interruption to the flow of the composition caused by water damage in the central area, the present writer admits to inclining towards the latter view, bolstered in it in particular by the way two of the protagonists are drawn: the one cradling Christ’s head; and the nearer figure, seen from behind, on the far right. In the first of these, the draughtsmanship is extraordinary and varied, ranging from the attention devoted to the back of his head and, especially, his hair (where water damage has unfortunately occurred), as he turns towards St Joseph of Arimathea, to the almost abstract description of his lower legs and feet, where just a few lines describe the weight-bearing nearer leg and foot as also his right leg stepping up behind him. In between, a predominant series of curving, sabre lines, trailing like kelp seaweed in a moving tide, cohere almost miraculously to evoke the figure’s backward progress, the drift of his clothes, and the incipient turn of his torso. The sense of movement is palpable. In these striated lines there are links to the style of the Prodigal Son himself in Benesch 0519 (see Fig.a), where the topmost, darker lines (which are on top of a quite detailed underdrawing, while here there is none) are drawn as repeating curves in a comparable way, especially in the sleeve but also down his back, like emphatic corrections and clarifications. Here, they are largely set down alla prima.

The second figure, on the extreme right of Benesch 0485, impresses for its unhesitating, bold touch and for the economy of the few lines out of which it is contrived (see the detail illustrations; note the later retouches that have occurred near the neck, illustrated separately, as described under Condition). There are connections here with his counterpart towards the right of Benesch 0482 – note the looped description of the calf – only on this occasion, the figure is tauter, more robust and more sparingly evoked. Indeed, even among Rembrandt’s generally-accepted drawings, few figures can rival this one either for its robust strength or for its intimations of the modern era. Importantly, as an adjunct to this, it seems impossible to separate the style in which it is drawn from the second figure from the left of the composition, slightly shorter than the first, which is described with a wholly analogous touch, whether in the circle for the head or the more emphatic lines below (Fig.b): thus the drawing must be by the same hand in its entirety. The style here is close to the lower centre of Benesch 0482 recto (and, especially on the left, with the lower part of the child in Benesch 0189).

Other links to Rembrandt’s own drawings are also suggestive: the method of shading, near-vertically, around the head of St Joseph of Arimathea, an unusual technique for Rembrandt, let alone for his pupils, yet it resembles the approach in the shadowing behind the two standing men towards the right of the Star of the Kings (Benesch 0736 – see Fig.c, through which we also draw attention to the similarity between St Joseph of Arimathea’s outstretched left arm and hand, the latter with its almost cauliflower anatomy, with the left hand of the Old Testament Joseph in Benesch 0423 verso). The diagonal shading immediately above the outstretched arm of St Joseph of Arimathea is also close to Rembrandt, its rhythms and spacing the same as they are, for example, at the lower left of the Healing of Tobit, now at Cleveland (Benesch 0547) or the shading near the centre of Benesch A035 (see Fig.d; cf. also the shading by the chair in the pen study for the etched Portrait of Jan Six, Benesch 0767). There are further stylistic connections – such as the figure on the right with the outlines of that on the left of Benesch 0190, or the figures at the lower left with the weeping woman on the left of Benesch 0482 recto, but they add little to what we have already demonstrated: that links to Rembrandt’s own drawings are stronger than has been recently admitted.[1]

Thus might run the case for the defence of the drawing as by Rembrandt, a combination of stylistic congruences and the expressive force of so much of the draughtsmanship, which remain appreciable despite the poor condition of the sheet. Even the distant horseman on the left, his long lance beside him (St Longinus after his conversion?) is made readily legible. But in recent decades, the prosecution has gained the upper hand: taking cognisance of the drawing’s loose liquidity and interpreting that as slackness or weakness, and with their confidence undermined by the often rudimentary details (and perhaps also by the drawing’s damaged condition), since 1927 the attribution has been called into question no less than nine times, designating it either as a copy or the work of a follower, four writers having suggested the name of Philips Koninck (see Literature below). But while it is true that Koninck’s drawings can display a broad, liquid touch, the only specific analogies are with drawings that should only tentatively be ascribed to him, and the attribution to him has been rightly refuted.[2] Among the closest in style is the sketch, in this case attributed to Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, of the Presentation in the Temple, now in Edinburgh (see Fig.e), with figures related to a painting by Van den Eeckhout in Dresden (Sumowski, Gemälde, II, no. 435 repr.).[3] But it has to be said that the style of the drawing is not only highly unlike the many drawings that may securely be attributed to Van den Eeckhout, but also not especially close to the drawing under discussion, either, as is demonstrated by the juxtaposition of the two drawings here. Furthermore, in composition it relates to another drawing that is generally agreed to be by Rembrandt, Benesch 0486, undermining its connection with Van den Eeckhout yet further.

In summary, the compiler's inclination is strongly in favour of the attribution of the drawing to Rembrandt, much encouraged by the significant analogies enumerated above with Rembrandt’s other works (see Figs.a, c and d). They point to a date between c.1642-47, which makes c.1645 a rational designation, the year of his significantly different treatment of the subject in his etching (Bartsch 84; NH 223). And as the above assessment above should clarify, there cannot be any irrefutable evidence that the drawing is the work of a pupil or follower. As an artist who seems to have woken up every day chiefly excited by the thought of returning to the ‘chez soi’ of his studio, we should accept that at times an unusually experimental – or even failed – experiment should occasionally emerge from it; equally we should not expect a smooth consistency in his style at any one period, as is proven by the very documentary drawings on which so much reliance is placed (see further on this topic in the Introduction, under the ‘About’ tab). That the drawing was made at speed is revealed, for example, by the way the ink does not always discharge itself fully from the pen as intended, as, partly, in the legs of the figure on the right and in some of the hatched shading below Christ and elsewhere. As a demonstration of an artist’s ability to set down a complex composition at speed, the drawing is impressive, with certain stylistic qualities and individual passages that are far more readily comparable to Rembrandt’s own works than to those of his pupils and followers; and some figures – the two on the right especially, as discussed above – rival his achievements at the height of his powers. Thus, in my view, the case should rest with Rembrandt: the vast majority of the visual evidence points in this direction. Yes, some evidence points towards a follower, but not much. Perhaps Ferdinand Bol omes the closest, in drawings such as his (or what appears to be his) drawing of the Return of the Prodigal Son (Benesch, 1973 ed., A40A; Sumowski 206x), but overall the drawing lacks the strengths and connections with Rembrandt that we have enumerated here. Unless or until those who argue otherwise can provide comparisons that surpass the weight of those made above in their proximity and clarity, this is the view that the compiler will adhere to and that should, logically, endure. And for those who disagree, he can hope that this catalogue entry, while it may not have solved the problem for them, may at least have illuminated it.

Compare also Benesch 0485a (qv), which is clearly a development of a similar compositional idea; and from many comparable passages (cf. the heads at the lower left here and the heads in the window there), certainly by the same hand. But because of the controversy surrounding the attribution of that drawing also, it has not been invoked here as a comparison in support of the attribution to Rembrandt.

Condition: Damaged by water in much of the central area and again to the right of St Joseph of Arimathea, in whose right shoulder there is a repair; further water damage to the upper right, especially in the corner itself but more generally as well; the figure on the right has been retouched in the area near his neck in a warmer brown ink; in addition, somewhat faded.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1642-47.

COLLECTION: D Berlin, Staatliche Museen Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett (inv.14720).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Dehmel and Pfister, 1920, no.XII (depicts the Good Samaritan); Exh. Frankfurt, 1924, no.50; Falck, 1927, p.176 (copy after Rembrandt); Valentiner, II, 1934, no.503 repr. and under no.501 (c.1638-40; perhaps doubtful and reminiscent of P. Koninck); Berliner Museen, LII, 1931, pp.110-11; Lugt, 1932 (perhaps autograph); Weski, 1942, pp.86-89 and 97 (doubtful); Amsterdam, 1942, under no.48 (study for painted Entombment of 1639, Bredius 560; Wetering 162); Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.485, repr. (c.1640-41; relates to Benesch 0481-82); Exh. Berlin, 1956, no.79 (c.1640); Rosenberg, 1959, p.112 (perhaps related to 1639 Munich Entombment painting, Bredius 560; Wetering 162); Haverkamp-Begemann, 1961, p.50; Sumowski, 1961, p.8 (doubtful); Exh. Chicago-Minneapolis-Detroit, 1969, under no.184 (reminiscent of P. Koninck [as Valentiner, 1934]); Sumowski, Drawings, VI, 1982, no.1524xx, repr. and under no.1525xx (tentatively attributed to P. Koninck; same hand as Benesch 0495); Exh. Paris-Ajaccio, 2012-14, under no.30 (P. Koninck); Berlin, 2018, no.177, repr. (c.1648; school of Rembrandt but not P. Koninck, and not by the same hand as Benesch 0484 [qv, which had also been attributed to him]; compares Benesch 0543); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Godin-Dehesel (according to Noll sale catalogue); Johannes Noll; his sale, Frankfurt, Prestel, 7-8 October, 1912, lot 177; Charles de Burlet, Berlin, from whom purchased by the present repository.

[1] Perhaps worthy of mention for comparison are also : the fingers of the man just beyond Christ’s toes, which compare with those of the boy on the left of Benesch 0519 and with the Berlin Self-Portrait, Benesch 0432; the shading and the figure, reminiscent of Christ’s central bearer in Benesch 0485, of St Joseph in Benesch 0620A; and several passages in Benesch A35A [see under the ‘Not in Benesch’ tab], perhaps especially the head of the man in the background, holding up a painting, and the faces to the left of Christ in Benesch 0485.

[2] By Bevers (Berlin, 2018, no.177 – see Literature above).

[3] The drawing is mentioned again under Benesch 0139A, n.1. Peter Schatborn brought it to my attention when we discussed Benesch 0483 (e-mail to the author, 2 June 2020).

First posted 17 June 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0485a

Subject: Scene of Execution: Anabaptist Martyrs of Amsterdam (?)

Medium: Pen and brown ink.

199 x 274. Chain lines: 24-28h; laid lines: 21/cm.

COMMENTS: The composition develops from the Christ Carried to the Tomb in the Rijksmuseum (Benesch 0482 recto), even though the subject is not the same. The stylistic links with that drawing are also clear (see Fig.a): the tempo of the pen as it creates the silhouettes of the figures is almost identical, with dark patches of extra-liquid ink almost interrupting the flow of the outlines; also close are the loop-described calves of the receding figures on the right (see also in Fig.a). The head of the man on the extreme right of Benesch 0482 recto also compares with the figure who turns his head as he climbs the stairs. The shading in the lower centre, beneath the carcass, as well as elsewhere would be hard to distinguish in touch from the equivalent passage of hatching beneath the Christ in Benesch 0482 recto, while the legs and feet of the figure on the extreme right is a match for the same limbs in the lower centre of the Rijksmuseum’s drawing.

In its ambition as a multi-figure composition, with a dozen figures (including the decapitated man) across the lower half, the still-hanging victim at the top left, three heads at the window, and a suggestion of more onlookers at the lower left, the design reflects something of the complexity of the Night Watch of 1642, work on which may well have overlapped with the drawing. Another link is provided by the child to the left of centre in both works, behind and between the main group in the centre and a separate figure to the left. Here, the child is running, and reminiscent in its pose to the girl chasing a goose in Benesch 0234.

There are many other stylistic analogies with Rembrandt. The gestural draughtsmanship at the lower left, suggesting figures and drapery has links with the lower section of Benesch 0567, while the general characteristics of both the figures and the shading have links with Benesch 0540. The arm of Mars in Benesch 0540, protruding from the net at the lower left, is inseparable from the style of the arm of the central soldier, carrying the corpse, in Benesch 0485a. Drawings by Ferdinand Bol, probably the only other artist in Rembrandt’s studio who might come into contention for the drawing, are less close.[1] His grouping lacks the variety seen here, nor does he convey expressions as convincingly, while here, for example, the nonchalant indifference to the violence of the act just committed on the faces of the central executioners and soldiers is palpable, and contrasted with the concern apparent on the faces at the window, readable despite the fact that they are so sketchily drawn - in Bol's drawings there are no good parallels for this.

The subject is probably the Execution of Three Anabaptist Martyrs in Amsterdam in 1559, which was described in T.J. van Braeght’s “Het Bloedig tooneel of Martelaers Spiegel der doops-gesinde of weereloose Christenen”, first published in Dordrecht in 1660: “…but they were hanged in the prison [which one calls the Steen] in a place where the other prisoners [of whom there were then many] could see through the windows of their prison cells” ( ... maer zijn in de gevangenis [diemen den Steen noemt] onthalst, op een plaetse daer d'andere gevangenen [die daer toen veel waren] door de vensters van hun gevangenplaetsen sien konden).[2] This may relate the iconography to other drawings that could show Anabaptist martys, Benesch 0478, Benesch 0479 and Benesch 0482 verso (and the executioner visible beneath the sketch of Christ Carried to the Tomb on the recto). These drawings appear to date from the earlier to mid-1640s, when Rembrandt was painting the portrait of the leader of the Waterlander sect of the Mennonite Anabaptists, Claes Cornelisz. Anslo, and when he knew anabaptists including Hendrick Uylenburgh, Govert Flinck, Jacob Backer and Samuel van Hoogstraten.[3] It has been pointed out that the central group resembles that in the pupil's drawing Benesch 0518b (now acribed to the "Carel Fabritius" group, for which see Benesch 0500).[4]

Condition: To the right of centre the arm and the severed head it holds have been re-drawn, perhaps by the artist; a few stains and foxmarks; nicks in the extreme edges of the sheet at the top and the lower left.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1642-45.

COLLECTION: GB London, Courtauld Institute of Art (Seilern Collection, inv. D.1978.PG.187).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Isarlo, 1947, repr. front page; Seilern, III, no.187, repr., and Corrigenda, p.59; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.485a, repr. (c.1640-41; develops into Benesch 0518a-b; related to Benesch 0485, with affinities to Benesch 0736, as well as Benesch 0733-35; style also related to Benesch 0493 and Benesch 0495); Haverkamp-Begemann, 1961, p.50 (identifies subject as The Bodies of Saul and his Sons taken down from the Wall of Beth-Shan [I Samuel, XXXI, 10-12]); Sumowski, Drawings, III, 1980, under no.809xx; Exh. London, 1983, no.12, repr.; Rotterdam, 1988, under no.78 ("attributed to Rembrandt"; compares main figure group to Good Samaritan, Benesch 0518b); Dickey, 1995, pp.58 and 60, nn.52 and 53 (probably shows Anabaptist Martyrdom in a prison yard; iconography inconsistent with subjects from story of Saul and his sons and Tarquinian Conspirators, pace, respectively, Haverkamp-Begemann, 1961 and Benesch, 1955/73); Dickey, 1996, pp.96-97, and n.13, repr. fig.7 (as Dickey, 1995); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: D’Anglade, Marseille; Count Antoine Seilern, by whom bequeathed to the present repository in 1978.

[1] Representative examples of Bol’s drawings are repr. Exh. Los Angeles, 2009-10, pp.80-101, including, inter alia, Bol’s Messenger of God Appearing to Joshua (ex Boerner, Düsseldorf, Sumowski 90); the Annunciation (Oslo, inv.NG.K&H.B.15591; Sumowski 180x); Seated Woman (Berlin, inv. KdZ 18533; Sumowski 168x); Esau and Jacob (Amsterdam Museum, inv. TA 10285; Benesch 0564) and the Holy Family in an Interior (Darmstadt, inv. AE 592; Sumowski 195x). Bol’s drawings seem less direct and succinct, and the hatching less energised.

[2] Quoted from Dickey, 1995, p.61.

[3] Dickey, 1995, p.56 and 1996, p.95.

[4] Suggested by Giltaij in Rotterdam, 1988, under no.78.

First posted 17 June 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0486

Subject: Sketch for The Presentation of the Christ Child to Simeon in the Temple (Luke, II, 25-33)

Medium: Pen and brown ink, touched with corrections in white bodycolour; ruled framing lines in pen and brown ink; the upper left area has been torn off and re-joined. Inscribed (now only faintly), lower right, in graphite: “Rembrand”; inscribed verso, upper lft corner, in graphite: “n 5”(?) and upper right, in pen and brown ink: “f 2 – 10” and, in graphite: “5”; lower left, in graphite: “210” and “///” and lower right: “166”

180 x 191.

COMMENTS: The torn-off section at the upper left of the drawing has generally been described as an addition, but the chain and laid lines in the paper reveal that it was re-joined. The pen slips with interruptions across the divide, so the sheet must have been torn and re-joined before the drawing was made. Benesch 0511, of the same subject, seems to have suffered a similar damage.[1]

Overall, the style of the drawing is generally somewhat harsh and bitty compared with what we usually associate with Rembrandt: only the dividing line in the centre of the Virgin’s robe and its back profile are drawn with the customary flow of Rembrandt’s penmanship. Elsewhere the lines are often interrupted and occasionally unclear or even infelicitous. For example, Joseph’s hands appear to be holding an object but his gesture is obscure and his face – as also the Virgin’s – somewhat expressionless; the emphasis given to his right leg and foot is unexpected; the horizontal hatching to the right of Simeon, by his left foot, seems scratchy, while the vertical shading in his leg adds nothing to the description of the underlying form. Here and in many other passages the handling appears heavy and unsubtle. Yet in the description of the face of the aged Simeon, juxtaposed with that of the new-born Christ, Rembrandt’s strength of characterisation is displayed at its most poignant, forcing any misgivings concerning the attribution to evaporate. This conclusion is supported by a few analogies with other documentary or generally-accepted Rembrandt drawings: the unfinished profile head at the top right, with the eyebrow sketched in a single arc, and the tousled hair (as also of Joseph in the centre) resemble the head on Benesch 0246 verso and the second head down in Benesch 0226. The openwork lines in the kneeling Simeon, especially near his right leg, have links to the sick woman sketched on the right of the documentary drawing, Benesch 0183, while the overall hardness of line is encountered again, at least to a degree, in Benesch A009 (on which see under the Not in Benesch tab), in which the vertical shading to the right of the centre of the sheet resembles the above-mentioned passage on Simeon's left leg.

The subject, always popular, was treated by Rembrandt and his pupils in many paintings and etchings by him, and drawings attributed to him, which range in date from c.1628-1669.[2] The closest links are with his etching of c.1639 (see Fig.a) in which the Simeon is similar, though with the Christ child now held in reverse, with his head nearer the spectator and seen from behind, while echoes of the Virgin and Joseph remain – in reverse – in the figures behind him. Although the stylistic comparisons above would suggest a date in the early 1640s, the possibility that the drawing played a part in the evolution of the print cannot be excluded and we therefore place it c.1639-41 in order to allow for that chance. But as the alterations to the child in the drawing might be seen as a later improvement, allowing for its face to be seen, it could still be that the drawing is later than the etching.

Condition: As noted above, the upper left area has been torn off and re-joined; some stains and spots.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1639-41.

COLLECTION: NL Amsterdam, Amsterdam Museum (inv. A 10282).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Amsterdam, 1863, no.166; Gram, 1863, p.340; Vosmaer, 1868, p.506 (wrongly states was etched by M. Pool – see n.2 below); Gower, 1875, p.126; Vosmaer, 1877, p.588 (as Vosmaer, 1868); Dutuit, 1885, pp.91-92; Michel, 1893, p.591; Eigen Haard, 1898, p.596, repr.; Kleinmann, III, 10; Lippmann, III, 84; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.1216; 10 Teekeningen (2nd series), The Hague, 1910, series B, unnumbered and unpaginated; Wurzbach, 1910, p.415; Valentiner, I, 1924, no.313, repr. (c.1640); Exh. Amsterdam, 1932, p.49; Van Regteren Altena, 1932, p.23; Anon., 1934, no.66, repr.; Benesch, 1935, p.35; Stechow, 1940, p.371; Van Gelder, 1946, pp.25 and 29, repr.; Exh. Basel, 1948, no.15 (c.1640); Kool, 1950(?), p.46, no.28, repr.; Exh. Amsterdam, 1951, no.3; Van Gelder, 1953, pp.205 and 209; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.486, repr. fig.604/645 (c.1640-41; compares for style Benesch 0482; connected with the etching, Bartsch 42; NH); Exh. Cologne-Bremen, 1955, no.63; Haverkamp-Begemann, 1956, pp.89-90, no.101 (c.1640); Pigler, 1956, I, p.247; Exh. Rotterdam-Amsterdam, 1956, no.101 (c.1640); Exh. Warsaw, 1956, no.11, repr. fig.7; Sumowski, 1958, no.12; Exh. Washington-New York-Minneapolis-Boston-Cleveland-Chicago, 1958–59, no.63, repr.; Exh.Belgrade-Zagreb, 1960, no.61, repr.; Exh. Jerusalem, 1960, no.61, repr.; Exh. Budapest, 1962, no.61; Exh. Amsterdam, 1963, no.28; De Fremery, 1964, pp.54-67, repr. fig.7; Exh. Amsterdam, 1964-65, no.90; Slive, II, 1965, no.420, repr fig.III, 84 (c.1640); Haak, 1968, p.167, repr. fig.262 (c.1640-41); Muller, 1968.II, p.136, repr. (c.1640-41); Pigler, I, 1974, p.248; Bernhard, 1976, p.283, repr.; Amsterdam, 1981, no.8, repr. (mid-1640s to early 1650s; compares Benesch 0540; compares the also torn sheet, Benesch 0511, which probably by a pupil; Rembrandt fond of the subject, including early painting in Hamburg, Bredius 535, and late painting in Stockholm, Bredius 600, as well as three etchings and several drawings); Schatborn, 2019, no.74, repr. (c.1641).

PROVENANCE: Probably C. Ploos van Amstel, his sale,, 1800, p.44, lot G20 (“Simeon in den Tempel, liggende geknield en houdend het kind Jesus in de Armen, waarby Maria, en Joseph, benevens nog eenige Beelden zig vertoonen; krachtig mit de Pen en Roet, door Rembrand”), bt Roos, f.95; J. A. Jolles; his sale, Amsterdam, 17 November, 1848, lot 199, bt Brodgeest, f.72; Baartz; his sale, 1860, lot 226, bt Lamme, f.6; C.J. Fodor, by whom bequeathed to the present repository in 1860.

[1] As noted in Amsterdam, 1981, under no.8 (see Literature above).

[2] The following paintings: 1. Hamburg, Bredius 535; Wetering 16, of c.1628; 2. The Hague, Bredius 543; Wetering 47, dated 1631; 3. Stockholm, Bredius 600; Wetering 324 of 1669. Etchings: 1. Dated 1630 (Bartsch 51; NH 54); 2. c.1639, Bartsch 49; NH 184; 3. c.1654, Bartsch 50; NH 285. Drawings (in Benesch): Benesch 0486 (the present drawing), 0511 (already mentioned above), 0575, 0588, 0589, 0986, 0970, 1032, 1033, 1057, A099 and C086. An etching after Benesch 0986 was made by Matthijs Pool (1676-1732) in his series, the Verscheyde Gedachten or Plusieurs Pensées.., after Rembrandt (Bartsch-Claussin 1797-1828, II, p.166, no.67). Vosmaer, 1868 and 1877 (see Literature above), wrongly stated that Pool had made an etching after Benesch 0486.

First posted 23 June 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0487

Subject: The Triumph of Mordechai (Esther, VI, 7-12)

Medium: Pen (the thicker lines in reed pen) and brown ink on paper prepared lightly in brown, touched with white at the upper centre (on top of the monument); behind Mordechai, a gate added in graphite by a later hand. Inscribed verso in graphite, lower left: “'117”; on mat in graphite, centre right: ”kat 117” and lower right: “8718” and “32”

189 x 262. Watermark: none; chain lines: 24h; laid lines: 15-16/cm.

COMMENTS: This exceptionally spirited drawing was made in two distinct stages, the first with a quill-pen that produced the thinner lines for the horseman (Mordechai) and his mount, a few lines in the figures around him, including Haman walking in front of him, and much of the initial lay-in of the background architecture. The second stage, using a reed pen with a thicker nib, elaborated and extended the drawing into a wide composition in a broad sweep, employing a rapid, vivacious touch. This results in a different style, as energised as anything found in Rembrandt: a strongly accented flurry of figures appears to enter from the left, two others appear at a window at the upper right, while below them the figure of Haman in front of the horse was worked up and a few more figures added at the lower right, one of them kneeling in the foreground and seen from behind.

This second stage, keyed up with a rhythmic energy, impresses for its verve, animation and unhesitating confidence, lending the drawing a modernist character that was rarely matched in figure-drawing before the twentieth century (or even before the dancing calligraphy of a late 1940s mural by Jackson Pollock). The style is unprecedented, even for Rembrandt, prefigured or comparable only to a minor degree in his sketches after Leonardo’s Last Supper, of 1635 (Benesch 0443-45) or by the documentary, chalk drawing of the Baptism of the Eunuch of c.1641 (Benesch 0013). A final touch was applied in white bodycolour (now partly discoloured) to obliterate the bust atop the monument in the centre. This motif resembles the obelisk in the 1633-34 grisailles of Christ before Pilate (Bredius 546; Wetering 112, and the related etching) and St John the Baptist Preaching (Bredius 555; Wetering 110), both of c.1633-34, a motif again visible in two drawings related to the latter, Benesch 0139A and Benesch 0969.

The two main stages of drawing are so fully integrated and inter-dependent, especially where they combine in the architecture in the centre and to the right, as also in the figure of Haman, that the sketch seems unlikely to be by two different hands or to have been made at different dates, which might otherwise be tempting suppositions.

Traditionally, the sketch has been regarded as a work by Rembrandt of around 1640-41 and as a preparatory study for his celebrated etching of the Triumph of Mordechai of c.1641 (see Fig.a, illustrating the etching as printed, on the left, and in reverse, on the right, as it would have appeared on Rembrandt’s copper plate). But this view has not persisted into our own century, although its rejection from Rembrandt’s oeuvre and transfer to Carel Fabritius (with a question mark) has not been subjected to critical analysis in the literature. This will be attempted here, beginning with its relationship to the etching.

As printed (Fig.a, left), only the architecture on the right, with the couple on a balcony (thought to represent Ahasuerus and Esther), remains unreversed. The domed building retains its central position, but in the drawing is partly obscured by the above-mentioned monument in front of it, and in the print, Mordechai obscures its left edge and the right is impinged on by one of the spectators. The print adds an arch across the centre and substantially more of the palatial architecture on the left. But in all other respects, the print reverses the composition of the drawing, as might be expected of a preparatory sketch (see Fig.a, to the right). The mounted Mordechai, in the print, is less elevated than the figures surrounding him, whereas in the drawing he forms the apex of an arc of figures across the foreground. Haman, walking in front, is placed in the print within the span of the horse, with his arms more openly spread. The headgear worn by both main protagonists has been altered, with Mordechai now in a large beret rather than a turban and Haman sporting a high turban instead of a cap.

There is nothing in these changes to suggest that the drawing is a derivation from the print. Quite the contrary, and combined with the raw energy of the drawing, they seem to point to the old canonical view: that this is Rembrandt’s preparatory study for his etching rather than a pupil’s later variant. Such highly charged draughtsmanship is uncharacteristic of school works that take their cue from Rembrandt’s own productions; and the arguments in favour of returning the drawing to Rembrandt are apparently rendered yet more compelling for yet another, significant reason: the relationship between the drawing, the etching and the painting by Pieter Lastman of 1617 that inspired it (see Fig.b).[1]

The drawing seems to be a half-way house between the two: it brings Haman to our side of the horse, but not yet in the position he assumes in the etching; and the horse in the drawing, with its pointy nose and less pure profile, resembles Lastman’s design more than Rembrandt’s print. Lastman uses the Pantheon in Rome in the background, reflected in the drawing and etching by the similarly domed structure; but where Lastman shows the portico, crowned by its medieval bell tower (demolished under Pope Urban VIII), in the drawing they are dispensed with and replaced by the tall monument, comparable in its position to the Fontana del Pantheon in front of the building, which was then a more modest affair than the one we know today – and to the one substituted by Lastman. (It assumed its taller, present-day form, complete with Egyptian obelisk, only in 1711.)[2] Thus the drawing clearly stands between Lastman’s painting and Rembrandt's etching.

The logic of the drawing’s place between these two works seems irrefutable. Examining the style, however, and comparing it to works by both Rembrandt and his pupils poses considerable challenges. The style is unusual for Rembrandt, but to clutch at straws, one might suggest that the small, swooning figure in the centre (under the monument), with its squared off face, drawn mostly with the quill, approaches such drawings as Benesch 0506 and two school drawings, also in the Rijksmuseum, all now associated with Carel Fabritius: the Adoration of the Shepherds and the Liberation of St Peter (Amsterdam, 1985, nos.62-63; inv. RP-T-A-217 and RP-T-1930-31).[3] These are also marked by thicker, bolder strokes, but lack the lively character of those so energetically added here with the reed pen especially on the left. The faces, none of which individualise the characters in their various psychological predicaments, also suggest that the draughtsman was not Rembrandt himself. Among the nearest by him is Benesch 0139A, in which the figures on the extreme left, as well as the one standing towards the right and the one seated below him, have their counterparts here and also in Benesch 0969; but neither comparison fully convinces that Benesch 0487 is by the same hand. The same may be said for comparisons with Benesch 0518 recto, Benesch 0518b, Benesch 0521, Benesch 0531 and Benesch 0534: the calligraphic effect is not the same, lacking the unbridled, rhythmic display we encounter here. Could this have been among the material that provided a model for these pupils’ works? Also worthy of comparison are certain later drawings by Rembrandt, including the documentary sheets, Benesch 0886 (Hamburg, St Jerome) and Benesch 1175 (Amsterdam Museum, the Anatomy Lesson of Dr Deijman), as well as the never-doubted, inscribed sheet, Benesch 1169 (British Museum, Child Learning to Walk), but they relate to one another more directly than to Benesch 0487.

Cataloguers are thus left with a conflict between, on the one hand, the weight to assign the probability that the drawing is Rembrandt’s preparation for the etching, which as we have observed seems extremely likely (twixt the Lastman and the etching) and on the other the credence to give the stylistic and also the technical evidence, which suggest, albeit not wholly persuasively, a possibly later date than the etching and perhaps even another artist, namely Carel Fabritius. It remains difficult to place the drawing style at such an early moment in Rembrandt’s own development as a draughtsman. In addition, Rembrandt’s first use of the reed pen seems otherwise to have occurred only in c.1646, in the documentary sketch for the etched Portrait of Sylvius (Benesch 0763) and in general it only appears later still, from around 1650 onwards.

The compiler is persuaded that although the drawing’s place in the development of the etching (Fig.a), and the wholly extraordinary power of its execution, speak loudly for Rembrandt,[4] the analogies with the style of the "Carel Fabritius" group (for which see under Benesch 0500) are stronger still. If by him, a drawing of this breadth and confidence is likely to have been a late work, made in c.1650-54, based on the Lastman painting and Rembrandt's etching. The attribution to Fabritius is not new.[5] But its date as a Rembrandt, in the early 1640s, was retained, even though the idea that he would burst onto the scene, c.1641, fully-fledged and capable of producing such forceful work that anticipates Rembrandt's reed pen technique as well as his etching, seemed improbable. While there are difficulties with the theory that later on, he would create a drawing that lay so clearly on the road between the Lastman painting and Rembrandt's etching, the style and technique persuasively belongs to a later period, and to the “Carel Fabritius” group. This despite the arguments presented in the Introduction (see the ‘About’ tab), where it is pointed out that even the documentary drawings exhibit inconsistencies and surprises, so that we should expect other surprises to have emerged from Rembrandt’s hand.

One can sympathise with Jacob Rosenberg, who wrote so memorably of the drawing in 1959 that it is worth presenting his text again here (see Literature below): “Here we have, I believe with Benesch, a real preparatory sketch for the etching, and it seems significant that the deviations from the latter are considerable. This is the drawing that may have induced Benesch to retain the Munich group, because of the very broad sketchiness that it shows in the foreground figures. But here we have convincing gradations and also a remarkable distinctness in the salient points of the composition. Also, the use of two different pens (quill and reed) makes full sense. The reed pen came second and brought in stronger accents, reinforcing the spatial effect and the drama of representation. Lugt did not accept this drawing (see Lugt 1266 [= Benesch 0533]) and added it to the group by an anonymous pupil to whom he also ascribes Benesch 483 and 534. It is understandable that he came to relate the broad foreground character of Benesch 0487 to the equally broad sketchiness of the two doubtful Dresden ones [Benesch 0483 and Benesch 0534]. But there is a difference, as I pointed out above. The problem, then, is: where exactly to draw the borderline in this type of preparatory sketch, between the “genuine” and the "apocryphal" ones? I am in sympathy with Lugt's reluctance to go too far in accepting any kind of loose and coarse breadth as by Rembrandt, but I believe that the Lemberg [now Wroclaw] drawing, through its convincing integration of broader and finer accents and through its free yet meaningful relationships to the etching, can be retained for the master and gives a clue to of his fugitive manner in such sketches.” Earlier, on p.110, Rosenberg groups the drawing with other preparatory works: “…these drawings are by no means messy. In their unusual sketchiness they show a well-articulated organization, as well as Rembrandt’s high artistic economy.[…] They vary in the degree of execution, yet never lack organization or gradation, not even in the sketches of the utmost brevity.” Rosenberg’s special pleading is fully comprehensible; but the style and technique speak for the “Carel Fabritius” group strongly enough to overcome his arguments; and from the name of such a formidable painter, an astonishing drawing such as this should not surprise us.

The subject became popular in the wake of Lastman’s painting and Rembrandt’s print and examples are known by (or attributed to) many of Rembrandt’s followers and near-contemporaries, including Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (see also Benesch 0001), Claes Moeyaert, Abraham van den Hecken, and Jacob de Wet.[6]

Condition: Good.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date: c.1650-54.

COLLECTION: P Wroclaw, Ossolineum (old inv. no. 8705).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, 1947, no.119, repr.; Münz, 1952, under no.178 (not Rembrandt); Benesch, 3, 1955, no.487, repr. (c.1640-41, for the etching, Bartsch 40; NH 185); Regteren Altena, 1955, p.409 (compares Benesch A93 in British Museum, inv. 1900,1221.2); Exh. Warsaw, 1956; Rosenberg, 1959, pp.110 and 112 (Rembrandt; two pens used; seems surely to rehearse the etching [Bartsch 40; NH 185] – see further the end of the main text above); Sumowski, 1961, p.8 (school work); White and Boon, 1969, under B.4); Sumowski, Drawings, I, 1979, under no.218x; Exh. Braunschweig, 1981; Sumowski, Drawings, VIII, 1984, under no.1847x (in the context of a drawing by Maes, as problematic); Amsterdam, 1985, under no.62, n.9 (pupil based on the etching, possibly Carel Fabritius); Exh. Kansas, 1993 (rough paper caused interruptions to the lines); Perlove, 1993, pp. 38-60, repr. fig 4; Exh. Wroclaw 1998, no.35, repr. (Rembrandt?; c.1640-41; mentions that Schatborn rejected the drawing as Rembrandt on the basis of a photograph); Exh. Warsaw, 2006, no.31, repr. (Carel Fabritius, 1640s); Weimar, 2011, under no.33 (quotes Sumowski, 1961); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Prince Henryk Lubomirski; transferred by him in 1823 to the Lubomirski Museum, formerly in Lwow (Lviv; inv. 8705).

[1] Lucas van Leyden’s engraving of the subject of 1515 (Bartsch 32) also inspired Rembrandt – and Lastman before him. Rembrandt borrowed from it the motif of a man doffing his cap towards the right of his etching (as noted in Exh. Amsterdam-London, 2000-2001, under no.44). The Lastman is repr. Exh. Hamburg, 2006, no.28 and Seifert, 2011, fig.132.

[2] There is a print by Giovanni Battista Falda of the fountain from his series of 1691 on the “Le Fontane di Roma” (Bartsch, XXI, p.240, nos.5-35; Illustrated Bartsch 4725.005-037).

[3] For these three drawings see Amsterdam, 1985, nos.61-63, repr. (inv. RP-T-1930-15; RP-T-A-217 and RP-T-1930-31), and more recently at www.Rijksmuseum.nl.

[4] It has been noted that in the rare cases that preparatory drawings for etchings by Rembrandt exist, the resulting prints tend to be among his most highly finished works, as is clearly also true in the present case (Exh. Amsterdam-London, 2000-2001, pp.67, 75 and 77).

[5] On Fabritius as a draughtsman, see under Benesch 0500 and Schatborn, 2006.I, which extends ideas mooted in his Exh. Amsterdam, 1985 catalogue mentioned above. Benesch 0487 is not included in the 2006 article, although Schatborn had mentioned its possible attribution to Fabritius in Amsterdam, 1985, under no.62, n.9, doubtless a source for the attribution to Fabritius mentioned in Exh. Wroclaw, 2006, no.31.

[6] See https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images#query=Triumph+of+Mordecai (accessed 29 June 2020).

First posted 30 June 2020 (as Rembrandt [Carel Fabritius??]); Reworked and posted 27 October 2010.

Benesch 0488

Subject: The Baptism by St Philip of the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts, VIII, 26-39)

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown wash. Inscribed in pen and brown ink at the top right by Bonnat: “63”

174 x 260.

COMMENTS: For the subject, which became popular in the northern Netherlands in the seventeenth century, see under Benesch 0013.

Like that drawing, the present work has been associated with Rembrandt’s etching of the subject of 1641 (Fig.a) and was for long considered as a preparatory study for the print.[1] This is no longer given credence and the drawing, which has the appearance of a work of art made for its own sake rather than a preliminary sketch, has long been consigned to Rembrandt’s school.[2] Yet the quality Is outstanding, with a near-flawless performance, without corrections, in both pen and brush. To left and right, the foreground is depicted with a more emphatic touch, also employed in the two horsemen on the extreme right. Otherwise the penlines are drawn mostly with an even pressure, including some delicate shading, for example in the further hills above St Philip’s head and on the right, as well as in the upper part of the carriage (in what might be called parallel curves). The figure style, for example in the boy in the centre and the dog between him and the kneeling eunuch, is somewhat mannered, including here a circle for an ear and another for the animal’s eye, while the faces of the saint and the attendant above the carriage-wheel and the nearer horseman are simplified to their geometric essentials, and not much differentiated in character or expression.

In all these characteristics, there are links with a small group of pen and ink drawings that has been associated (initially by Peter Schatborn in Amsterdam, 1985) with Carel Fabritius. (As this is the first of the ‘Fabritius’ group of drawings that we have encountered, the explanation and discussion is somewhat extended but see further under Benesch 0500 for a list of drawings attributed to Fabritius.) Perhaps especially in the landscape to the left, with the long trails of lines in calligraphic movement, the style may be compared with Benesch 0497 (qv) while the figures have much in common with the drawing of the Adoration of the Shepherds in the Rijksmuseum, which has also been attributed to Fabritius (see Fig.b):[3] in the cow to the left, the same round eye, the simplified geometry of the faces, the almost dancing, lilting lines in the figures and the plethora of parallel hatching applied at many different angles.

The general arrangement of the composition reflects Rembrandt’s print to a degree, especially if comparing the etching in reverse (as here illustrated in Fig.a): the horseman and carriage to the right, the youthful manservant bridging the gap between them and the main group of the eunuch kneeling before St Philip. Perhaps the even outlines of the drawing reflect something of the printed medium, especially in the landscape. Compare also the background with Benesch 0496, Benesch 0497A (not least in the right foreground), Benesch 0502a (especially to the right), Benesch 0549 and Benesch 0556 (the sweeping lines and wash on the left; the lower left scrub like that on the lower right of Benesch 0488, while the figures resemble those in Benesch 0491 (particularly on the right), Benesch 0498, Benesch 0501, Benesch 0505 (which also has links in the landscape background on the right), Benesch 0506, Benesch 0512-15 (the latter with the curved parallels), Benesch 0523, Benesch 0531, Benesch 0545, Benesch 0551, Benesch 0583, Benesch 0593-94, and Benesch 0596.

Thus a whole raft of drawings in Benesch’s volume 3 join together with Benesch 0488 in style and personality. Whether the artist was Carel Fabritius can only be stated with some caution, however, for reasons that are mainly discussed under Benesch 0500 (the hub of Fabritius attributions hitherto). Dating these works is also problematic. Benesch 0500 has been linked to a painting by Fabritius of 1654, the last year of his life, and the somewhat classicising balance and quiet mood of Benesch 0488 also suggests a date at least approaching 1650. If by Fabritius, whose apprenticeship to Rembrandt occurred in the early 1640s, a date c.1645-50 seems probable, as the figures in his earliest paintings reflect Rembrandt’s more energised figure style of the earlier 1630s. On the other hand, many of the drawings mentioned here are more liquidly handled and could be later, from the 1650s, as discussed in the individual entries. The delicacy of Benesch 0488 also suggests that it might be earlier than that.

See also the discussion under Benesch 0538 and, under the ‘Not in Benesch’ tab, the drawing in black chalk of a Crying Boy, probably of the mid-1640s, and the drawings there grouped with it.

Condition: Generally good; some general discolouration; foxmarks, mostly in the sky, where there is also a slightly dark horizontal band, possibly caused by adhesive on a tape on the verso.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date: c.1645-50.

COLLECTION: F Paris, Musée du Louvre (L.1886a; MS inventory, vol. 20, p. 267; inv. no. RF 4691).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.703 (c.1641; preparatory to etching, Bartsch 98); Paris, 1933, no.1144 (c.1638-41; otherwise as Hofstede de Groot, 1906); Valentiner, II, 1934, no.537, repr. (c.1638; relates to Benesch 0515); Benesch, 1935, p.35; Münz, 1952, under no.211 (Flinck); Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.488, repr. (c.1640-41; otherwise as Lugt in Paris, 1933; summary style compared with Benesch 0483; landscape background compared with Benesch 0496-99 and Benesch 0515); Sumowski, Drawings, I, 1979, under nos.206x, 215x, 258x (as Rembrandt); Sumowski, Drawings, VI, 1982, under no.1526xx (as Rembrandt); Exh. Amsterdam, 2014, under nos 17 and 18, repr. fig.17b (C. Fabritius); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]; Exh. Leiden-Oxford, 2019-20, p.291, n.11 (by Rembrandt and preparatory to the etching).

PROVENANCE: Léon Bonnat (L.1714), by whom given to the present repository in 1919.

[1] First suggested by Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.703 (see Literature).

[2] The drawing was omitted from Exh. Paris, 1988-89, a significant fall from grace.

[3] The idea first suggested by Schatborn in Amsterdam, 1985, no.62 and reiterated in Schatborn, 2006.1, pp.130-31, repr. fig.2, and again in Exh. Amsterdam, 2014, no.16, repr.. In the last-named publication, the present drawing was included in the group of drawings attributed to Fabritius (see Literature above).

First posted 6 July 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0489

Subject: The Holy Family(?)

Medium: Pen and brown ink, touched with brown wash and perhaps rubbed with the finger, top centre.

135 x 194.

COMMENTS: The apocryphal Book of Tobit in the bible was often illustrated by Rembrandt and his pupils throughout his career.[1] Yet although the drawing has been identified as representing Tobit and Anna, the presence of the cradle on the right must throw this suggestion into some doubt. The Holy Family has been suggested (although the Virgin looks a little too old; and is the Joseph reading from the bible or holding the child?),[2] not least because the composition has elements in common with Rembrandt’s paintings of them from 1645 and 1646 (in St Petersburg and Kassel; Bredius 570 and 572; Wetering 198 and 209), as might also Abraham and Sarah, Zacharias and Elisabeth and Joachim and Anna.[3]

The present drawing is not without its qualities: the lines are mostly deft and not repeated, the perspective lines in the ceiling and floor are unhesitating, as are the rungs of the ladder, the cupboards with chattels on top, and the windows. In both figures, however, as well as in the basket above them, there is an idiosyncrasy: curled lines predominate, often ending in hooks. Although drawn fluently and without duplication, the grip on the forms is not incisive – rather, the lines have a decorative effect – and the facial expressions appear rudimentary. The woman appears to be engaged in handiwork, but the object to the right of her is not clearly either a loom or distaff (might it be a linen press?).

In some respects these qualities connect with Ferdinand Bol’s drawing-style, as in his Nathan Exhorting David (Windsor; Sumowski 134x), the Departure of the Prodigal Son (Paris, Fondation Custodia; Sumowski 251x) and his Eliezer and Rebecca at the Well (Vienna; Sumowski 261x). Yet comparisons with his work are not wholly convincing. The unity and fluency of what we see here – not least in the background – departs significantly from the style of such interiors as the Tobias in the House of Raguel (Sumowski 184x) or the Holy Family (Darmstadt; Sumowski 195x). The figure of the old woman relates in style to the Virgin in the Holy Family in the Carpenter’s Workshop, in the Abrams collection (see under the Not in Benesch tab, c.1635-38). For these reasons, an attribution to Bol is suggested here, though with some hesitation as the analogies are far from compelling.

The drawing is also not simple to date. The relationship between the two figures partly echoes the double portrait of Cornelis Claesz. Anslo and his wife, Aeltje Schouten, now in Berlin and dated 1641 (Bredius 409; Wetering 103), but this kind of complete composition in a drawing with so little wash seems more characteristic of Rembrandt and his school from after the mid-1640s, despite the fact that the looping pen-lines described above already appear in Rembrandt’s sketches of the late 1630s (e.g. Benesch 0219, lower left, and Benesch 0222).

As well as the delicate touches of parallel shading seen between and around the figures and by the basket, for example, there is bolder shading both at the top centre and below the virgin, under the cupboard and near the cradle. Much of this appears more confident and strident than the rest of the drawing, and the thought that Rembrandt improved his student’s work becomes a possibility.

Condition: Somewhat spotted and stained.

Summary attribution: Ferdinand Bol? [Possibly retouched by Rembrandt?]

Date: c.1645-50?

COLLECTION: D Konstanz, Städtische Wessenberg-Galerie (inv.32/57).[4]

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, 1935, p.35; Exh. Konstanz, 1951, no.115; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.489, repr. (c.1640-41; compares Benesch 0488; recalls Louvre Scholar in an Interior with a Winding Staircase, Bredius 431; Wetering 86; notes perspective lines in floor, comparing Benesch 0390 and Benesch 0545); Tümpel, 1969, pp.127-28, repr. fig.11 (Holy Family); Exh. Konstanz-Heidelberg-Linz, 2000-2001, pp.72-73, repr. (Rembrandt; iconography uncertain - see above text related to n.2); Exh. Konstanz, 2018; [Not in Schatborn, 2019.].

PROVENANCE: Thomas Lawrence (L.2445); Samuel Woodburn; R.P. Roupell (L.2234); Edward Habich (L.862) his sale, Stuttgart, Gutekunst, 27-29 April, 1899, lot 534; Wilhelm Brandes, by whom bequeathed to the present repository, 1907.

[1] See Held, 1969 and 1980.

[2] See Tümpel, 1969, pp.127-28.

[3] Suggested in Exh. Konstanz-Heidelberg-Linz, 2000-2001, p.72.

[4] I am grateful to Franziska Deinhammer for providing details concerning the provenance and literature of the four drawings in Konstanz that were catalogued by Benesch as by Rembrandt, and for providing photographs.

First posted 21 July 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0490

Subject: Dido Founding Carthage: The Cutting of the Ox-Hide

Medium: Pen and brown (iron-gall) ink with brown wah.

200 x 285.

COMMENTS: We can only speculate as to why this rare iconography was chosen for the drawing. According to Timaeus, Dido founded Carthage after purchasing an ox-hide and buying the land that she said could be circumscribed by it for a small sum. She then had the hide cut into thin strips and claimed a much larger area on which the new city was built, later the centre of the Carthaginian Empire.[1]

In style the drawing is in general delicately drawn in fine pen-lines, though with some bolder outlines for the figures and vegetation in the left foreground and in the figures to the right. In parts there is a blotchiness caused by the acidic action of the iron-gall ink. There are few revisions or pentimenti, but there are a few aspects of the drawing that have long raised the suspicion that the drawing is not by Rembrandt himself: one might mention in particular the somewhat squat and flat rendering of the figure on Dido’s right and the somewhat vacuous facial expressions throughout.

Iron-gall ink was chiefly employed by Rembrandt in c.1638-39 (see under Benesch 0157), and the most probable attribution is to one of Rembrandt’s most talented pupils of around that time. Although there are some stylistic connections with drawings by Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (cf. Benesch 0147), in which the geometrical approach is yet greater, it seems to the compiler that Ferdinand Bol is more likely to have been the draughtsman. One might compare the following: the Vertumnus and Pomona, of c.1640 (Benesch 0165; Rotterdam, 1988, no.43 as Bol) and Benesch 0537 (Amsterdam, 1985, under no.22, repr. fig.22b). The somewhat blotched appearance of the foliage at the lower centre-left, which is rather solidly outlined, is also reminiscent of drawings attributed to Bol, for example on the left of the Abraham and the Angels in the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam (inv. R69; Sumowski 235x; Rotterdam, 1988, no.42).

The main objection might be that the delicacy of the present drawing, and the artist’s ability to sustain and control such a pictorially complete composition, is somewhat uncustomary for Bol. Benesch 0488, here assigned to "Carel Fabritius?", reflects these two qualities, but in other respects (especially the blotchiness) seems further away. Also giving pause for thought is the similarity of the thinly penned landscape with the backgound of Benesch 0801 (see Fig.a).

Benesch (1955/73) recorded a copy (170 x 240) in the collection of Janos Scholz.

Condition: Generally good, with some minor staining and some acidic action from the iron-gall ink has eaten into the paper and exaggerated the width of the thicker lines in particular.

Summary attribution: Ferdinand Bol?

Date: c.1639?

COLLECTION: USA Private Collection.

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.490, repr. (c.1640-41; possibly shows Solomon and Sheba but perhaps a scene from ancient history; compares Benesch 0489 and landscape with Benesch 0497); Sumowski, 1961, p.9 (by Horst?); Tümpel, 1969, pp.128-29, repr. fig.12 (identifies subject); Feinblatt, 1971, passim (as Tümpel, 1969; notes similarity with motifs in a fresco of the subject formerly attributed to Veronese - repr. as from the Villa Giusti, Magnadola de Cessalto, near Treviso);[3] Sumowski, III, 1980, under no.809xx (Rembrandt); Sumowski, Drawings, VI, 1982, under no.1537x (Rembrandt); Golahny, 1998, pp.39-48 (on iconography); Golahny, 2003, pp.160-163, repr. fig.44 (Rembrandt studio; suggests story known to Rembrandt from J.L. Gottfried, Historische Chronica, oder, Beschreibung der fürhnembsten Geschichten..., Frankfurt, vol. I, 1630, with illustrations by Matthäus Merian); Campbell, 2010, no.596. [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: J. D. Böhm (L.271); A. Beurdeley (L. 421); his sale, Paris, Georges Petit, June 8-10, 1920, lot 276, repr.; London, Sotheby’s, 27 March 27, I969, lot 94, repr., bt for Norton Simon Inc. Museum of Art (on long-term loan to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art);[4] part-exchanged 30 December, 1977, with E.V. Thaw (dealer), by whom sold to Leonardo Mondadori, 1977; by descent.

[1] Tümpel, 1969 and Feinblatt, 1971, illustrate some possible antecedents (see Literature).

[3] I have not been able to ascertain which Villa Giusti this might be.

[4] According to Feinblatt, 1971, p.39. I am grateful to Gloria Williams of the Norton Simon Museum for clarifying the provenance and for the reference in Campbell, 2010.

First posted 30 July 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0491

Subject: Eliezer and Rebecca at the Well (Genesis, XXIV, 15-22)

Verso: Laid down on old mat

Medium: Pen and dark brown ink on light brown paper; freehand framing line below.

184 x 289. Watermark: none visible; chain lines: 21h.

COMMENTS: For another version of the subject, see Benesch 0503.

The style is entirely compatible with Benesch 0488 (qv): the rather solid outlines of the figures, a characteristic also of the trees in the background, and the description of the foreground foliage, are particularly close (see Fig.a). The two drawings were presumably made at around the same time, probably by Carel Fabritius (see further under Benesch 0488).

A variant, made mostly using iron-gall ink, is in Paris (Fig.b; Fondation Custodia, inv.9629) and appears to be by the same hand. The style of the Paris version is in places somewhat looser or sketchier, while the composition somewhat more complex and arguably less successful: the centre of the sheet is dominated by a large parasol above the camel-rider and the group of the figures to the right is less fully integrated into the design. It may be that the artist reprised the composition in order to improve on and simplify his first attempt. To achieve this he also omitted the animals in the left foreground and shifted the background mountain to the centre, creating a more symmetrical design.

Like Benesch 0488, this is a fully-fledged composition, drawn for the most part with the evenness of an etching (albeit with a second 'bite' for much of the foreground, where the lines are thicker). The design is influenced by Pieter Lastman.[1] The motif of a pissing horse became something of a stock-in-trade in seventeenth-century Dutch prinmaking (also cows), but was already featured in Hans Baldung Grien's woodcuts of Wild Horses in 1534.[2] A related but probably later painting of the Rembrandt school, long attributed to Barent Fabritius and formerly in the Chrysler Museum of Art, was based on the left section of the Paris drawing, as it includes the figure to Rebecca's right as well as the animals in the left foreground, together with the high hills behind the main protagonists (Fig.c). This connection is one of the stumbling-blocks to accepting the attribution to Carel Fabritius; yet the style of the drawings in the "Carel Fabritius" group is not easily related to the work of his brother Barent, either. A copy after another variant of the subject, with Eliezer seen from behind, is in the Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt,[4] and a copy of the Paris version was in the L. Lepingle collection.[5]

Condition: Good; a few brown stains in the sky.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date: c.1641-45.

COLLECTION: GB Edinburgh, National Galleries of Scotland (inv. D 1338).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.491, repr. (c.1640-42; compares Benesch 0488 and Benesch 0497 and relates figure studies, Benesch 0660 – especially the man riding a camel – and Benesch 0732; the [now] Paris, Fondation Custodia drawing a partial copy); Sumowski, 1956/57, p.9 (by Horst [according to Edinburgh, 1961, Sumowski later recanted and thought the drawing by Rembrandt]); Edinburgh, 1961, no.32; Exh. London, 1966, no.54; Broos, 1975-76, p.217, repr. fig.19 (Rembrandt; borrowings from Lastman); Exh. Edinburgh, 1976, no.67; Edinburgh, 1985, p.65 (Rembrandt); Exh. Washington-Fort Worth, 1990-91, no.75; Paris, 2010, under no.77; Seiffert, 2011, p.230, repr. fig.257; Exh. Edinburgh, 2013 (no catalogue, as attrib. to C. Fabritius); Exh. Amsterdam, 2014, no.18, repr. (Fabritius; improves on version in Paris; Lastman influence – see n.1 below); [Not in Schatborn, 2019].

PROVENANCE: David Laing; his bequest to the Royal Scottish Academy (L.2188); transferred to the present repository in 1910.

[1] See Broos, 1975-76, p.217 (and then Paris, 2010, under no.77 and Exh. Amsterdam, 2014, no.18), where it is pointed out that the raised knee of central rider is based on a figure in Lastman’s Coriolanus in Dublin of 1625 (a drawing made by Lastman for this figure is in Hanover, repr. Broos, 1975-76, fig.18). As Exh. Amsterdam, 2014 suggests, the horse in the Paris version was inspired by Rembrandt’s Concord of State of c.1637 (Bredius 476; Wetering 153); and parasols were a feature of a number of Lastman’s paintings, including his 1623 painting of the Baptism of the Eunuch (Karlsruhe) and his 1619 Odysseus and Nausicaa in Munich [Seiffert, 2011, figs 37 and 81]).

[2] Bartsch 58; Hollstein 240 (for an impression in the British Museum, see: https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1852-0612-111 (accessed 1 August 2020).

[3] See Sumowski, Gemälde, IV, 1983, no.1959; sold by the Chrysler Museum of Art (New York, Sotheby's, 22 January, 2004, lot 5, repr., as Attributed to Constantijn van Renesse).

[4] Inv. AE 660; Benesch C30; see https://rkd.nl/explore/images/216893 (accessed 1 August 2020).

[5] Sold Brussels, Vandekindere, 24-25 May, 1994, lot 445 (in 2000 with Jan de Maere). For the collector, see L.1731.

First posted 1 August 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0492

Subject: The Angel Departing from Tobit and his Family (Book of Tobit, XII, 21-22).

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown wash.

142 x 125.

COMMENTS: An early copy (Fig.a; Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence) reveals the extent of the losses suffered by the present drawing: not only has the top been reduced, but a full half of the drawing has been cut away from the right, showing the angel rising aloft above animals and with a landscape beyond. The tip of the angel’s right wing remains on the Amsterdam drawing, at the upper right. Somewhat intriguingly, the Rhode Island sheet is made up of two pieces of paper, the division of which coincides with the right edge of the Amsterdam drawing.[1]

While the Rijksmuseum sketch has been connected with Rembrandt’s etching of the subject of 1641 (Fig.b),[2] it bears the hallmarks of a pupil’s variation. While the old Tobit is recognisably derived from the print, the remainder of the composition is more marked by differences than similarities. Stylistically, the penmanship is generally loose and slack, lacking a grasp of form to a degree that precludes the former attribution of the drawing to Rembrandt, although in the two figures in profile to right in the lower centre (Tobit and Tobias), there is a moment of crisper draughtsmanship, which extends to their hands (see the detail reproduced). Rembrandt’s authorship was already doubted by Hofstede de Groot in 1906 (his no.1166) and an attribution to Ferdinand Bol appears likely, as has long been surmised.[3] The lack of precision is characteristic of many drawings by him – cf., for example, the figure of the baker on the left of the Joseph Telling the dreams of the Prisoners (see Fig.c).[4] The style also relates to the sketch of Annunciation, now in Oslo (inv. NG. K&H.B.15591; Sumowski 180x), which may, however, be earlier.[5] Our drawing is likely to date from around the same time as Rembrandt’s 1641 etching (Fig.b), or from slightly later.

Rembrandt’s interest in the apocryphal Book of Tobit has long been recognised and his pupils often also illustrated episodes from it, usually, as here, inspired by works by their teacher.[6] In a painting that depends on Rembrandt’s 1637 panel in the Louvre, which could be by Bol, the angel is turned towards the viewer, in this respect coming closer to our drawing.[7]

Condition: Cut (see under Comments above); otherwise good.

Summary attribution: Ferdinand Bol.

Date: c.1641-45?

COLLECTION: NL Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum (inv. RP-T-1901-A-4527; http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.28455).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.1166 (doubtful; for or after the etching); Freise, Lilienfeld and Wichmann, 1912/1921, no.10; Kauffmann, 1918, pp.41 and 46, repr. fig.12; Valentiner, 256; Benesch, 1935, p.36; Amsterdam, 1942, no.100 (pupil’s work, reminiscent of Bol); Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.492, repr. (Rembrandt, c.1641; notes copy in Providence [vide infra and n.1 below], which reveals the connection with Rembrandt’s etching of 1641, Bartsch 43; NH 189); Sumowski, I, 1979, no.204x, repr. and under 245x (Ferdinand Bol); [Not in Schatborn, 2019].

PROVENANCE: William Mitchell; W. Pitcairn Knowles; purchased by the present repository, April 1901.

[1] As noted by Benesch, 1954/73 (see Literature). I am grateful to Jan Howard and Denise Bastien for providing an illustration and details of the RISD drawing. In style it seems close to works of the "Carel Fabritius" group, for which see under Benesch 0500.

[2] The etching echoes the design of Rembrandt’s earlier painting of the subject in the Louvre of 1637 (Bredius 503; Wetering 150), particularly in the angel.

[3] See Literature (Amsterdam, 1942, no.100; Sumowski, 1979, no.204x).

[4] Hamburg, Kunsthalle, inv.22412 (Sumowski 101, where dated in the later 1640s; Exh. Los Angeles, 2009, pp.96-97, repr fig.11a as from c.1640; Hamburg, 2011, no.122, repr.).

[5] Exh. Los Angeles, 2009-10, no.8.2, repr., where it is dated c.1636-40.

[6] See Held, 1969 and 1980.

[7] Corpus, 3, A 121, copy 2, repr. fig.10; Exh. Amsterdam, 2017-18, no.53, as attributed to Bol.

First posted 3 August 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0493

Subject: The Death of Jacob (Genesis, XLIX, 29 – L, 14)

Medium: Pen and brown ink and brown wash, heightened with white.

231 x 353.

COMMENTS: Jacob, surrounded by his sons, breathes his last, and Joseph “fell upon his father's face, and wept upon him, and kissed him”.

This impressive drawing has received little attention in the recent Rembrandt literature. It is true that it presents many challenges. After allowing for the condition (see under Condition below), which exaggerates the whites and has turned the browns paler, first impressions still strike many notes that seem discordant for Rembrandt. Indeed, doubts arose about the attribution with the drawing’s first publication in 1927 and it has since thrice been regarded as a copy by Philips Koninck after a lost Rembrandt.[1] The idea may have originated with the possible mention of the drawing with this attribution in the Vienna sale of 1872 (see Provenance), but does not stand up to analysis. Another possibility was mooted (by Gerson, 1936), that the figures on the left of the curtained bedpost may have been added by Koninck to a drawing by his teacher; but the homogeneity of the whole argues against the idea, even if the scale of these figures stands somewhat apart (as does the over-large size of the standing figure on the right, seen from behind).

The exceptionally loose style and the broadly-brushed chiaroscuro, which lead to a superficially messy result, are uncharacteristic of Rembrandt as are also the many subsidiary figures with their less-than-convincing facial expressions. There are reminiscences here of Ferdinand Bol’s approach and the figures have been compared with those to the right of Benesch 0480 (see Fig.a, which illustrates the Death of Jacob between details from both sides of the drawing).[2] But the analogies are not fully persuasive and an attribution to Bol can only be tentatively supported by analogies to his more certain works, especially in such elaborate compositions (for example, his study of Three Maries at the Tomb, which is related to Bol's painting of 1644 in Copenhagen - see Fig. b).[3] The bolder style employed here is closer to some of Bol’s simpler, one-to-two-figure drawings, such as those illustrated to the right and left of Fig.c: the Seated Woman in an Interior (Berlin, inv. KdZ 18533; Sumowski 168x) and Benesch 0167, a documentary drawing by Bol.[4]

Although neither an attribution to Bol nor Rembrandt can be convincingly sustained, there are passages that seem closer to the master than his pupil: the face of Jacob is characterised with a profundity that is encountered nowhere else in Bol’s works on paper (see the detail);[5] and when the drawing is juxtaposed with details from a documentary sketch by Rembrandt, Benesch 0188 now in Berlin, related to the Hundred Guilder Print, there is cause to draw breath: the heads on the extreme right of our drawing seem especially close to those on the left of the Berlin sketch (see Fig.d) and there are analogies in the figures with raised arms in both works. The comparison begs the question as to whether Rembrandt, as well as producing complete composition studies of exceptional refinement, which are often worked up over lightly penned initial indications, might also have made broadly-brushed designs, laid down alla prima and in a more painterly manner as here? But on balance this is not a leap that can be made in the present case; and analogies with such drawings as Benesch 0512a assist in discounting the idea. There are also some areas or individual figures that appear to be derived from Rembrandt: the composition reflects his etching of the Death of the Virgin (see Fig.e for a detail, in reverse: the Virgin and the Disciple - St Peter - closest to her must have inspired the Jacob and Joseph here), while the man standing in the centre of the group on the left, with his hands joined, harks back to the St. Joseph of Arimathea in Benesch 0485. Such borrowings from Rembrandt's work are characteristic of the productions his pupils.

Benesch mentions a “weak, late” copy in Braunschweig and another formerly with Charles Sedelmeyer (Paris).

Condition: See the main text above (Comments): the drawing appears to have suffered from a chemical reaction: the whites have become more powerfully bright, as can happen, for example, when lead white, having oxidised into lead sulfide, is rejuvenated using hydrogen peroxide, which converts the lead sulfide into lead sulfate, which is whiter than the original lead white; or was an attempt once made to bleach the sheet of paper? The black and white photograph (from Benesch, 3, 1955) is also included here as it clarifies the penwork, not least in the figure of Jacob.

Summary attribution: School of Rembrandt (Ferdinand Bol?).

Date: c.1641-45.

COLLECTION: CA Montreal, Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal (inv.1909.590; William John and Agnes Learmont bequest).[6]

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Exh. Montreal, 1909-10, no.596; Falck, 1927, p.178 (copy after Rembrandt by P. Koninck); Hind, 1933-34, no.15, repr. (compares with Death of the Virgin etching [vide supra]);[7] Valentiner, II, 1934, p.xlii, repr. fig.42 (P. Koninck?); Benesch, 1935, p.35; Gerson, 1936, p.150, no..Z120 (as Falck, 1927, but the left group invented and added by Koninck); Exh. Montreal, 1953, no.125; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.493, repr. (c.1640-42; notes two copies; “one of Rembrandt’s most monumental creations of about 1640-41”; follows Hind’s comparison with Death of the Virgin etching and adds the etched Presentation in the Temple, Bartsch 49; compares Benesch 0480, Benesch 0485 and Benesch 0487 and central group of Benesch 0495); Benesch, 1960, no.35, repr.; Montreal, 1960, p.191, repr. p.67; Exh. Montreal, 1962, no.238, repr. p.141, pl.LXII; Turner, 1962, pp.32 and 35, repr.; Robinson, 1967, p.188, n.55 (relates design to copy by Bol [Sumowski 146; also repr. Corpus, 3, p.97, fig.8] after Rembrandt Lamentation in National Gallery, London, Bredius 565; Wetering 113); Exh. Montreal, 1979; Sumowski, Drawings, I, 1979, under no.194x; Sumowski, Drawings , IV, 1981, under no.838x and p.1876, under no.2 (as Rembrandt; has been mistakenly attributed to Carel Fabritius); and under no.967x (“supposedly a work by Rembrandt); Sumowski, Drawings, VI, 1982, under no.1371x (“might be by Rembrandt” and 1525xx (Rembrandt); Exh. Montreal, 1986-87; Exh. Montreal, 2003; Exh. Montreal, 2005; Germain, 2007, p.50, repr. p.256; Amore and Mashberg, 2011, p.107; Exh. Montreal, 2012. [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Cornelis Ploos van Amstel?; possibly his sale, 3 March, 1800, Kunstboek G.44; possibly sale, Vienna, Koller, 5 February, 1872, lot 224 (as Koninck); Baron de Beurnonville?; his sale, Paris, 16-19 February, 1885, lot 206?; Frank R. Heaton (dealer?); William John Learmont and Agnes Learmont, by whom bequeathed to the present repository, 1909.

[1] See Literature above (Falck, 1927; Valentiner, 1934; Gerson, 1936).

[2] Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.493.

[3] Compare also, for example, The Liberation of St Peter (Sumowski 87) as well as the Three Maries at the Tomb in Fig.b (Sumowski 97; see also under Benesch 0475, fig.b).

[4] One could add the Annunciation, now in Oslo (inv.NG.K&G.B.15591; Sumowski 180x). Jacob’s hands are also not unlike Benesch 0285a and Benesch 0380 (and less close to Benesch 0281A).

[5] In Bol's paintings, however, one might particularly compare David in Bol's painting of David's Charge to Solomon, of 1643, now in Dublin (inv. NGI.47), repr. Sluijter, 2015, fig. VII-5.

[6] In 1964, the drawing was stolen, but recovered in 1969 - see Amore and Mashberg, 2011, p.107. I am grateful to Hilliard T. Goldfarb and Claudine Nicol for their help checking the provenance and providing exhibition history and some literature.

[7] Hind recorded that in a letter to him, Bredius accepted that the drawing was by Rembrandt and identified the subject as the Death of Abraham.

First posted 9 August 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0494

Subject: Potiphar's Wife Accusing Joseph (Genesis, xxxix, 11-19)

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown wash; ruled framing line in another, less faded pen and brown ink.

189 x 215. Watermark: Basel staff in a crowned shield with letters WHM below; chain lines: 26-27h.

COMMENTS: Although not much discussed since Benesch’s catalogue, this is a drawing of quality, perhaps especially in the depiction of Potiphar, as he listens to his wife’s accusation. She, in turn, gestures towards Joseph’s cloak which the latter had failed to retrieve prior to fleeing the scene when she attempted to seduce him – she now tells her husband that Joseph attempted to sleep with her. The undertones of lust in the story are emphasised by the sculpted figures on the bedstead, a faun (pointing to his horns to suggest cuckoldry) and a second figure, variously interpreted as a nymph or (less probably) as another faun, whose left hand holds its right elbow. Comparable bedstead symbolism was employed by Rembrandt in his celebrated painting of Danaë, now in St Petersburg of 1636-c.1643, in which the bed is decorated by a sculpted Eros (Bredius 474, Wetering 149).[1]

In style, the drawing is confident and fluent if somewhat tame and even, and reminiscent of Benesch 0236 (qv), which has a closely comparable watermark and has similarly suffered, perhaps by being immersed in water. For the same reasons as that drawing, the present work seems likely to be by Ferdinand Bol, and in its simplified outlines and neat, generally even touch, there are also stylistic links with Benesch 0661 and to other drawings attributed to Bol.[2] Of note are the reminiscences of Rembrandt’s sketches of Saskia in bed, as also the probable pentimento in the wife’s right arm.[3]

The story of Potiphar occupied Rembrandt on several occasions, from his etching of 1634 (Bartsch 39; NH 128), which shows the raw moment of the attempted seduction, to his painting in Berlin of 1655, in which the subject is ostensibly the same as in our drawing but with the unexpected (and biblically unauthorised) presence of Joseph in the room (Bredius 524; Wetering 237; a studio version is in Washington, Bredius 523; Corpus, 5, 23). See also the later, school drawings, Benesch 0623 and Benesch 0958 recto (the latter connected with the Washington painting).

Condition: Much faded (may have been washed); stained by an old attachment on the back around the edges; a small hole above lower right corner.

Summary attribution: Ferdinand Bol?

Date: c.1642-48.

COLLECTION: USA New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art (inv.53.203).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Waldmann, 1908, pp.436-37, repr. (1640s; symbolic figures in the bed-post, along the lines of St Petersburg Danaë [on which Comments above]); Valentiner, I, 1929, no.106, repr.; Panofsky, 1933, p.215, repr. fig.27 (Rembrandt workshop; otherwise as Waldmann, 1908 and compares Braunschweig painting by Bol of Jacob, Rachel and Laban); Benesch, 1935, p.38; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.494, repr. fig.616/652 (c.1640-42; disputes Panofsky’s interpretation – both bedpost statues are fauns; compares Benesch 0493, Benesch 0495 and Benesch 0661); The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 1954, xiii, 1954, no.1, p.22; Exh. Cambridge-New York, 1960, no.38, repr. pl.32 (c.1640-42; notes pentimento in the wife’s right arm and compares to Rembrandt’s sketches of Saskia in bed); Robinson, 1977, p.645 (Rembrandt mixes genre and history); Sumowski, vi, 1982, under no.1537x; [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Grand Duke of Oldenburg; Grossherzogliches Museum, Oldenburg; presented by Dr. F. H. Hirschland to the present repository, 1953.

[1] See Literature above (Waldmann, 1908; Panofsky, 1933; and Benesch, 1955 – who thought both figures were fauns). The painting inspired many imitations by Rembrandt’s followers, often with the subject changed.

[2] See Exh. Amsterdam, 2014, no.11, where Benesch 0661 is ascribed to Heijman Dullaert. For Bol, compare also, for nexample, Benesch 0524 and Benesch 0544.

[3] As noted in Exh. New York-Cambridge, 1960, no.38; the pentimento is conceivably a loosely hanging, right sleeve.

First posted 13 August 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0495

Subject: Christ Among his Disciples

Verso: Laid down

Medium: Pen and the tip of the brush in brown ink, with brown and later grey wash; traces of framing lines in black chalk at top and to right. Inscribed lower left in pen and brown ink: “Rembrandt” and on the verso of the mat in black chalk: “34926”

198 x 260.

COMMENTS: Like Benesch 0089, in which the general arrangement of the figures is similar, the subject is slightly uncertain. Christ and ten of his disciples are visible, none of them definitely identifiable as Judas, but the strong shadows might suggest a nocturnal moment (again, as Benesch 0089), with Christ on the Mount of Olives a distinct possibility and the omission of at least one disciple a mistake in both drawings.

The drawing is much faded and reworked and an idea of its original balance is retained in old black and white photographs (Fig.a, from Benesch, 1955) and in an undistinguished but fairly early copy in the Louvre (Fig.b). The comparisons suggest that Benesch 0495 was probably framed and exposed to light for a long time; and that the fading has worked unevenly to produce a far more disjointed image than was originally the case. In general, the lines were darker throughout than they are now. Later retouches in grey disfigure many areas as well: the front side of the disciple standing on the left to a considerable degree, the shadows in Christ’s beard, his midriff, in his left leg and at his feet, with a blob of shadow in front of his right calf, as well as at the lower right and above the standing figure behind Christ; and with a lighter touch (not visible in the photographs) much of the periphery of the drawing.

A considerable amount of ink has been spilled concerning the drawing’s attribution, including several attempts to assign the drawing wholly or in part to Philips Koninck (see Literature below). The results have not been convincing and any comparisons with Koninck’s own drawings tend to dispel the idea (see Fig.c), even if we attempt to understand how Koninck might have drawn – possibly much closer to Rembrandt – while he was studying in the latter’s studio, probably in around 1640-42.[1] Koninck’s strongly individual personality was probably marked from the start, with his boxy and rectilinear stylistic instincts and usually superficial characterisations, and any resemblance here is at best superficial, confined to the trailing outlines of the much-retouched figure standing on the left. This has led some commentators to suggest that it was added by Koninck and that the remainder of the drawing is by another hand, possibly Rembrandt’s (see Literature below). A close examination of this figure reveals many later additions by the poorly skilled grey wash interventionist, who tried to render it more complete: the grey wash in the lower robe and some touches with the tip of the brush are all later and were not repeated in the Louvre copy (Fig.b). These additions completely undermine the quality of this figure, but the darker touches of brown ink in his cranium, collar and elsewhere cannot be separated from those found in many other parts of the drawing, further suggesting that, apart from the grey additions, a single artist was responsible for the whole work.

Overall the drawing exhibits an exceptional variety of touch, ranging from the fine detail of the faces of the figures immediately to the left of the tree, one standing and one seated, via some more liquid touches – as in the body of the same, seated figure, and in the Christ – through to the broad and energetic, almost painterly shadows in the tree above, which exhibit a wholly extraordinary verve and confidence that is wholly unlike the draughtsmanship of any of Rembrandt’s pupils, including Koninck.

For Rembrandt himself, apart from the self-evident, bravura power of the drawing, speak a number of characteristic passages. Two documentary drawings of the mid-to-later 1640s, the Berlin Study for the Hundred Guilder Print and the London Star of the Kings (Benesch 0188 and Benesch 0736; see Figs d-e), and one from c.1653, the Hamburg St Jerome (Benesch 0886; see Fig.f), suffice to demonstrate his authorship. The more finely touched figures to Christ’s right, in the centre of Benesch 0495, exhibit a unity of style with the sick woman in the Berlin sketch, with its varied handling, from freely turning loops and curls to stronger lines firming up the forms as work progresses (Fig.d). The passages of diagonal shading are also suggestively similar. With Benesch 0736, the congruities relate more to (a) the strong outlines with “dropped” lines in the figure to the left of Benesch 0495,[2] which resemble those in the children at the right of the Star of the Kings, with (b) the hair of the larger child also being close to the darker heads to the lower left and right of the Paris drawing, (c) the darker touches in the midriffs of the men standing to the right, which are close to those in Christ’s left arm (see also the centre of Fig.e) and (d) the shading around the profiles of the figures, often in pockets of near vertical hatching, in our drawing on the right and in the Star of the Kings around the children and the same two men at the right (see especially on the right of Fig.e). In Benesch 0495, the handling is slightly looser and, in the foreground, takes on something of the character of the Hamburg drawing, especially in the foreground below and the tree above (see Fig.f).[3]

By splitting hairs, deviations can often be found between drawings by the same hand; but in the drawings of such an adventurously experimental artist as Rembrandt, they are to be expected. Overall, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that Philips Koninck or another hand was responsible, as the illustrations will, hopefully, demonstrate to all but the most obdurate observers. As anyone with wide experience of practising drawing will know – and most art-historians do not qualify – it is not an activity that is experienced in some form of uninterrupted, consistent continuum of style; rather, by its very nature creative and adventurous, one that is often likely to be as haphazard and unpredictable as attempting a new recipe or sight-reading a new piece of music. This is stressed in the introduction to this catalogue. Certainly, we can all appreciate the unusual character of the drawing; but its de-attribution is not required in order to explain its appearance satisfactorily. The connections with Rembrandt’s own works are strong, the drawing is vastly richer in its characterisations and varied in its touch than anything by his pupils, from the needlepoint description of the seated disciple at the centre left to the 'twentieth-century' breadth of the figures seated on the right; and the fact that a slight connection may be made with the work of a pupil, in this case Philips Koninck, is hardly cause for the widespread discombobulation it has engendered, particularly in the face of such a remarkable masterpiece of drawing. In yet further support of the attribution to Rembrandt, another comparison may be invoked: with Benesch 0190 (Fig.f), with its similar use of strong lines and dark, liquid touches over a lighter underdrawing, the heavier lines in particular having the same character in the figure on the left as they do in the Christ in the present drawing.[4]

Condition: A vertical tear runs about one third of the way along the sheet, left of centre; the inks appear to have faded at different rates, as suggested also by the copy in the Louvre (Fig.b); some parts of the drawing were worked up by a later hand, sometimes in grey (see further above).[5]

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date: c.1646-50.

COLLECTION: F Paris, École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (L.829; inv. PC 34.926; L.479).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Exh. Paris, 1879, no.359; Chennevières, 1880, p.64; Dutuit, 1885, iii, p.94; Exh. Paris, 1908, no.489; Marcheix, 1909, pp.257-64; Lavallée, 1917, pp.280-83; Valentiner, I, 1924, no.362, repr. (copy after Rembrandt, perhaps by P. Koninck); Kauffmann, 1926, pp.157-58 and p.175, n.3; Lavallée and Delacre, 1927, repr. pl.23 (thicker lines in reed pen); Falck, 1927, p.178 (P. Koninck after Rembrandt); Paris, 1933, under nos. 1132 and 1263 (neither Rembrandt nor Koninck; compares Benesch 0543, Benesch 0661 and other works); Gerson, 1926, no.Z150 (P. Koninck); Paris, 1950, no.479, repr. pl.liv (as Paris, 1933); Benesch, 1955/73, II, no.496, repr. fig.619/653 (c.1640-42; Rembrandt retouched by P. Koninck; compares Benesch 0493-94, Benesch 0543 and Benesch 0661); Exh. Paris, 1955, no.57; Drost, 1957, pp.174 and 204ff. (as Benesch, 1955/73); Rotermund, 1958, p.58, repr. pl.4; Sumowski, 1958, p.194; Rosenberg, 1959, p.112 (as Benesch, 1955/73); Sumowski, 1961, p.9 (perhaps an early drawing by S. van Hoogstraten); Sumowski, 1963, p.208, under no.35 (debateable attribution to P. Koninck); Exh. Chcago-Minneapolis-Detroit, 1969-70, no.184 (P. Koninck?); New Haven, 1970, under no.184, repr. p.262 (by one hand; P. Koninck?); Schatborn, 1975-76, p.36 (P. Koninck, after Rembrandt); Sumowski, Drawings, IV, 1981, under no.967x (possibly early P. Koninck); Exh. Paris-Malibu-Hamburg, 1981-82, no.70, repr. (P. Koninck); Sumowski, Drawings, VI, 1982, no.1525xx, repr. (P. Koninck?); Brugerolles, 1984, no.190; Exh. Paris-Ajaccio, 2012-14, no.30, repr. (P. Koninck); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.].

PROVENANCE: Sylvestre; sale, Paris, 4-6 December, 1861, lot 156, f.51; Jules Boilly; sale, Paris, Delbergue-Cormant, 19-20 March, 1869, lot 29, f.120; Alfred Armand, by whom presented to Prosper Valton, by whose widow given to the present repository in 1908.

[1] Paris, 2010, no.105, where dated c.1662 on the basis of a comparison with the Haarlem drawing of Three nuns (Sumowski 1338), which is dated 1662. Sumowski 1399x placed the Paris drawing in the late 1650s.

[2] Compare this figure also with that on the right of Benesch 0547.

[3] The tree, the figure seen from behind and the overall compositional style and atmosphere may be compared with the small painting of 1646, of Abraham and the Angels (Bredius 515; Wetering 508).

[4] For the thicker lines in Benesch 0495, and also the figures on the right, compare also Benesch 0667.

[5] Some further drawings disfigured by later grey wash additions are listed under Benesch 0434.

First posted 18 August 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0496

Subject: Landscape with Tobias and the Angel (Apocrypha, Tobit, X)

Medium: Pen (reed pen) and brown ink with brown wash. Inscribed verso by an early hand in pen and brown ink with a poetic fragment: “ick kom door jupijns last / ick kom uyt ‘t heemels troon alleen om U te /te be [inserted above] / groeten / U door last van Godt jupijn en buyghgh [sic] mij voor de vee[r] / van U O, / a / al schijndt het in 't begin dat het seer quaet zal gaan / soo kan men door goe re[dener] en malkander noch Verstaan”; above this, in graphite (upside down): “fl 10 Rembrant”

155 x 208.

COMMENTS: For Rembrandt’s interest in the Apocryphal Book of Tobit, see Benesch 0492. But in this case, the style, with its thick lines, pockets of hatching and, especially towards the left, its looping, uninterrupted curls is inseparable from several drawings now thought to be by Carel Fabritius. To judge from its breadth, which undermines any Rembrandtesque suggestion of perspectival depth, the drawing could well be a late work from the final years of the artist’s career, c.1650-54, although such dense vegetation is also a feature of his paintings of the mid- or later 1640s, such as the Mercury, Argus and Io, now in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which has been placed c.1645-47 (though not necessarily accurately).[1] See under Benesch 0488 and especially Benesch 0500 for attributions to Fabritius.

Condition: Somewhat light-struck but generally good.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date: c.1650-54.

COLLECTION: NL Private Collection: John and Marine Fentener van Vlissingen (inv.2010/03).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.496, repr. fig.617/661; Sumowski, 1961, p.9, no.496 (attributed to Bol; compares drawing in Düsseldorf); Sumowski, Drawings, I, 1979, under nos.215x and 258x (as Rembrandt, rejecting Sumowski, 1961); [was planned to be included in Sumowski, Drawings, vol.11, as attributed to Ferdinand Bol]; Exh. Amsterdam-Paris, 2015-16, no.44, repr.; [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Mme V...; her sale, Paris, Drouot (René Hémard), 25 March, 1925, lot 97, repr. as Rembrandt; Seymour de Ricci; private collection, Paris; sale, Paris, Drouot, Étude Beaussant-Lefèvre, 10 June, 2009, lot 11, repr. as Ferdinand Bol, €21,000; Bob P. Habolt (dealer; repr. his catalogue, 2012, fig.661); from whom purchased by the present owners in 2010.

[1] In Exh. The Hague-Schwerin, 2004-5, no.5 (as pointed out in Exh. Amsterdam-Paris-Laren, 2015-16, no.44). For the painting, see also Sumowski, Gemälde, V, 1990, no. 2072, repr..

First posted 24 August 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0497

Subject: Tobias with the Angel Cleaning the Fish

Verso: Blank

Medium: Pen and brown ink (with possibly some iron-gall ink in the mix), corrected with white (the ink along left lower edge looks greyer, perhaps because of white mixed in here). Inscribed in graphite, top centre: “W” [to match a similarly placed “W” on the mat]; on the mat in graphite, top centre: “W”; centre right: “kat 103”; lower right: “8712” and “13” and “19”

169 x 278. Watermark: foolscap with five-(?)pointed collar, 3 balls; the bells on the cap itself rather small; chain lines: 24h; 14-15 laid lines/cm.

COMMENTS: For Rembrandt’s interest in the Apocryphal Book of Tobit, see under Benesch 0492. But as with Benesch 0496, the style here places the sheet firmly in the “Carel Fabritius group” of drawings that seem likely to be by this artist, although no signed or related – documentary – drawings by him have yet been identified. The nib here is finer than in Benesch 0496, though with a few similarly broad touches at the lower left margin, in the angel and at the lower right corner. Elsewhere the touch is rather even in pressure and tempo, resembling the lines of an etching (recalling Benesch 0488), and generally confined to outlines, with little shading and no wash. A few fairly heavy touches of white bodycolour have been used to correct some overly heavy touches, mostly below in the centre and lower left. The saw-tooth flourish for vegetation immediately below the fish resembles that in the foliage to the left of the tower in Benesch 0496 and the handling of the landscape and trees is close to Benesch 0491, Benesch 0505 and to the right of Benesch 0515, which also contains similar areas of parallel shading.

The subject was also treated in other drawings and paintings, including Benesch 0582, a school work of c.1650, Benesch 0933, which is by Willem Drost and probably dates from the early 1650s, and in a painting thought to be of the same period by Rembrandt's pupil, Gerrit Horst.[1] These works could be suggestive for the date of Benesch 0497, which appears broad and bold enough to be a mature work by Fabritius. The elegance and height of the angel, however, is also reminiscent of Fabritius’s earlier painting of Hagar and the Angel, now in the Leiden Collection, New York, which has been dated c.1645.[2] Unless or until there is a foothold to the chronology of the drawings attributed to Fabritius, dating them will remain problematic.

Condition: Good; the white bodycolour has partly oxidised.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date: c.1650-52?

COLLECTION: P Wroclaw, Ossolineum (old inv. 8712).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.497, repr. (c.1640-42; compares Benesch 0488, Benesch 0496, Benesch 0512, Benesch 0513 and Benesch 0514, and the distant scenery to Benesch 0792-93); Sumowski, Drawings, I, 1979, under no.258x (Rembrandt); Exh. Wroclaw 1998, no.14 (as C. Fabritius?); Exh. Warsaw, 2006, no.32 (C. Fabritius, 1640s); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Prince Henryk Lubomirski; transferred by him in 1823 to the Lubomirski Museum, formerly in Lwow (Lviv; inv. 8712).

[1] See Sumowski, Gemälde, II, 1984, no. 916, repr.; Exh. Kingston, 2008-9, no.91, repr..

[2] Exh. The Hague-Schwerin, 2004-5, no.2; Duparc, 2006, p.88.

First posted 25 August 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0497A

Subject: Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath (1 Kings, XVII, 10-11)

Verso: Laid down – probably blank (inspected in transmitted light)

Medium: Pen (reed pen) and brown ink with brown and grey wash, and some white bodycolour; traces of ruled framing lines in pen and light brown ink.

198 x 295. Watermark: none visible; chain lines: 26h.

COMMENTS: The drawing is presumably meant to depict the moment of the prophet Elijah’s first encounter with the widow of Zarephath.

In style the drawing conforms in style closely to the Carel Fabritius group (see especially under Benesch 0488 and Benesch 0500 for the group), including Benesch 0497. In the present case there is also, at the lower right, a stylistic link with a detail of the underpainting, as revealed by infra-red reflectography, of a canvas by Fabritius, the Hagar and the Angel now in the Leiden Collection, New York (see Fig.a).[1] The painting has been tentatively dated c.1643-45 but the drawing may be somewhat later, c.1645-50, given its exceptionally confident breadth of handling. Both display a comparable ‘handwriting’ in the description of foliage (in the drawing at the lower right) with firm, solid, broad and flat outlines in an idiosyncratic calligraphy. This connection, not previously published, provides one of the strongest reasons for associating the “Fabritius group” of drawings with this artist.[2]

Condition: Overall discoloured pale brownish.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date: c.1650?

COLLECTION: Private Collection.[3]

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, 3, 1973, no.497A, repr. fig.659 (1640-42; identifies subject; compares Benesch 0496-97, Benesch 0498, Benesch 0502a-0505); Sumowski, Drawings, I, 1979, under no.206x (Rembrandt); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Private collection in Northern France since 1740 (according to Benesch, VI, 1957/73); Basel, private collection; Mrs G. Korner.

[1] The infra-red image first published by Duparc, 2006, p.84, fig.13.

[2] The compiler's annotated copy of Benesch shows, however, that the attribution to Fabritius was made on 1 December 1987, before the infra-red image in Fig.a was made.

[3] The original seen by the compiler through Christie’s, 8 March 2004. I am grateful to Christie's for the photograph.

First posted 26 August 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0498

Subject: Hagar and Ishmael with the Angel in the Desert (Genesis, XXI, 15-18)

Verso: See inscriptions

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown wash in two tones on paper that appears slightly pinkish brown; ruled framing lines in pen and brown ink (with, in addition, freehand lines bordering much of the lower and right edges). Inscribed verso, lower centre, in graphite: “21946 [the inventory number] / G. Flinck / (Rembrandt? / Prof. Woerman).” ; lower right in pen and brown ink: “G R” [?]

179 x 186. Watermark: none; chain lines: 23h; 13/14 laid lines/cm..

COMMENTS: For the subject, see under Benesch 0524. In style the drawing conforms entirely with the “Carel Fabritius group” (see under Benesch 0488 and Benesch 0500; cf. for style also Benesch 0497 and Benesch 0505): the strong outlines and bold calligraphy (especially in the foliage at the upper right) are entirely characteristic (cf. the foliage clinging to the tree at the lower left of Benesch 0497A). Allowing for the change from a pen to a brush, the calligraphy resembles the brushwork at the lower left of Carel Fabritius’ painting of Mercury and Argus, now in Los Angeles, which is thought to date from c.1645-47 (see Fig.a).[1] Like the comparison made with the underpaint of another painting by Carel Fabritius under Benesch 0497A (there Fig.a), this provides new and significant support to the theory that these drawings are indeed by Carel Fabritius.[2]

That the style in the tree to the left reflects Rembrandt’s is clearly revealed by a comparison with the tree on the left of Rembrandt’s etching, Six’s Bridge, of 1645, which is suggestive for the date of the present drawing (see Fig.b).

The story of Hagar occupied Rembrandt’s teacher, Pieter Lastman (see under Benesch 0447), as well as Rembrandt many times, and his example was followed in turn by his own pupils (see, for example, the illustrations of Ferdinand Bol’s drawings under Benesch 0475).[3] Other drawings and paintings by or attributed to Carel Fabritius also treat the story of Hagar (see, for example, Benesch 0496, Benesch 0549 and under Benesch 0497A).

Condition: Generally good; a spot of white towards the lower left is a restoration.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date: c.1645-50?

COLLECTION: D Hamburg, Kunsthalle (L.1328; inv.21946).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Valentiner, I, 1925, no.31, repr.; Van Dyke, 1927, p.50 (F. Bol); Falck, 1927, p.178 (P. Koninck?); Gerson, 1936, p.172, no.Z LII (not P. Koninck); Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.498, repr. fig.621/655 (c.1640-42; compares especially Benesch 0497); Von Moltke, 1965, no.D2 (Flinck; related to 1642 painting in Kiev, Museum of the Academy of Sciences, inv. 324); Exh. Hamburg, 1967, no.73, repr. fig.64 (Rembrandt); Exh. Nice, 1995, no.20; Sumowski, Drawings, I, 1979, no.258x (Ferdinand Bol); Exh. Paris, 1988-89, under no.88; Exh. Hamburg, 1994-95, no.18, repr. (F. Bol); Exh. Bremen, 2000–2001, pp.24-29, no.4, repr. (F. Bol); Exh. Dresden, 2004, no.4, repr. (Bol; inspired by Lastman painting now in Los Angeles); Hamburg, 2011, pp.125-6, no.12 (F. Bol? c.1645-49; records Jan Leja’s doubts of this attribution in an e-mail of 2009 based on comparison with Bol’s drawing of Hagar at the Well, now in Amsterdam, inv. RP-T-1930-27); Exh. Amsterdam, 2012, no.13, repr. (F. Bol?); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.].

PROVENANCE: W. A. Verbrugge; his sale, The Hague, 27 September and following days, 1831, lot D11 (as Govert Flinck), bt G.E. Harzen (L.1244), by whom bequeathed in 1863 to the Städtische Galerie, Hamburg, from which transferred to the present repository (which opened in 1869) in 1868.

[1] See Exh. The Hague-Schwerin, 2004-5, no.5, repr..

[2] Schatborn, 1996, p.133, uses this detail of the painting to compare other drawings in the “Carel Fabritius” group.

[3] See Van de Kamp, 1994, p.30.

First posted 28 August 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0499

Subject: The Dismissal of Hagar (Genesis, XXI, 14)

Verso: Laid down but apparently blank as largely visible through backing paper

Medium: Pen and brown ink; ruled framing lines in pen and paler ink (which occasionally spill onto the backing sheet, which appears to be early). Inscribed on backing paper, in graphite: "No2 L [?] 37" and "18/17".

157 x 137. Watermark: none visible; chain lines horizontal, distance apart uncertain.

COMMENTS: For the subject, see Benesch 0524. Like Benesch 0498, we again encounter a characteristic drawing from the “Carel Fabritius group” with a subject taken from the story of Hagar. In style the drawing is perhaps especially close both to Benesch 0488 (in the trees and in the figures - cf. Ishmael’s somewhat geometric left arm and the left arm of the Eunuch) and to the figures on the right of the Eliezer and Rebecca at the Well in the Fondation Custodia, Paris (see Fig.a for both comparisons; the latter drawing is also reproduced in connection with Benesch 0491). The outlines in all three drawings are little interrupted – thus somewhat solid – with many heavier touches and copious shading.

Condition: Generally good; some restored foxmarks remain with halos formed by the solution employed (mostly in the sky) and some touches of 'white' seem also to be part of a restoration.[1]

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date: c.1645-50?

COLLECTION: USA Washington, National Gallery of Art (Widener Collection; inv.1942.9.659).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Valentiner, I, 1924, no.19, repr.; Hamann, 1936, p.543, repr. fig.102 (school of Rembrandt; typical only of late Rembrandt that the figures are cut off below); Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.499, repr. (c.1640-42; compares figures in Benesch 0503, the landscape with Benesch 0496-97 and Benesch 0498); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.].

PROVENANCE: Marsden J. Perry (Lugt 1880); P. Carew (according to Benesch); J. E. Widener, by whom bequeathed to the present repository in 1942.

[1] My notes state that the drawing was cleaned and remounted at the Fogg Art Museum in 1966-67 (probably from files in Washington).

First posted 29 August 2020.

 

 

Benesch 0500

Subject: Christ Among the Doctors

Medium: Pen and dark brown ink with brown and grey wash and some white bodycolour (partly oxidised).

220 x 295.

COMMENTS: Peter Schatborn was the first to propose the attribution of a number of drawings, some included in Benesch’s 1955 volume, others not, to the short-lives Carel Fabritius (1622-1654), who was Rembrandt's pupil in the early 1640s, or possibly somewhat later.[1] That there was a distinct stylistic group of drawings was largely already recognised by Benesch who, however, retained the attribution of many of them to Rembrandt.[2] Schatborn’s conclusion was based on the keen observation that in one of Fabritius’ paintings, The Sentry, of 1654, now in Schwerin (see Fig.a), the artist had described the detail of a sculpted relief of St Anthony above the gateway in a manner resembling an act of drawing – albeit using the tip of the brush and oil paint rather than a pen and ink – in a style that he regarded as comparable to the hand of the scribe at the lower left of the present drawing (see the relevant details in Fig.a, with a detail of the hands in the fictive relief at the top right and of the scribe and his hand at the lower right). Later, Schatborn further suggested (Schatborn, 2006, p.135) that the strong, scalloped outlines in the collar of the scribe in Benesch 0500 could also be related to the collar in Fabritius' painted Self-Portrait now in Rotterdam, but because of the difference in scale the comparison seems less persuasive.

The connection with the hand is also not entirely convincing: the scribe’s fingers, which are themselves uncharacteristic of drawings in the “Fabritius group”, are less geometrical in their construction than the series of pointed cones in the fingers of the fictive relief, where they resemble a mechanical hand (see Fig.a, upper right and lower right). In the drawing, their proportions are different and the line across the top of the hand probably describes the end of a sleeve, whereas in the painting the same line describes the back of the hand.[3] In fact the style of the hand in the relief is closer to the hands in the black chalk sketch of a Crying Boy (the details shown centre right in Fig.a; the drawing described under the ‘Not in Benesch’ tab and there assigned to Fabritius, c.1645-50). But significantly, in these details and elsewhere in Benesch 0500, the artist employs a firm and rather unvariegated, unremitting outline and it is above all this characteristic, both in the fictive relief and throughout the present drawing (and many others in the group), that makes the observation telling and renders the attribution probable. Many drawings in the group include grey as well as brown wash, a rare combination in Rembrandt's own drawings, and also characteristic are the rather squat proportions of many of the figures; some of them are characterised fully and persuasively, but the majority appear schematic, not to say rudimentary, in this respect.

Assigning these drawings a date is difficult. They clearly reflect Rembrandt’s works of the 1640s, when Fabritius was his pupil, or soon after (cf. Benesch 0709 of c.1646), and are mostly - though not all - of a quality commensurate with Fabritius’ reputation as an artist (reflected in the fact that many were so long attributed to Rembrandt). In the present case, the balance of the composition and the four different sources of light are well controlled, and some of the characterisations, such as the two more fully realised, bearded faces in the group of learned men to the right, are impressive; the multi-figured groups reflect the two paintings by Rembrandt from his Passion Series that were completed in or around 1646, the Adoration of the Shepherds and the Circumcision.[4] Yet, hitherto, the only direct connections between the drawings in the group and paintings by Carel Fabritius is with the style of the fictive relief in a painting made at the very end of his short life, in 1654, and with the handling of the paint or underpaint in two of his canvases (see under Benesch 0497A, Benesch 0498 and Benesch 0506). The connections fall short of what is required to confirm the hypothesis (and there are therefore no 'documentary' drawings to form a core for the group, though Benesch 0500 is used in this catalogue as a point of departure) but for the first of these reasons - the connection with the Schwerin picture of 1654 - we have preferred to date many of the drawings in the period c.1650-54. There are exceptions, where the more delicate and deliberate draughtsmanship appears to belong to an earlier period in the artist’s development (as, for example, Benesch 0488, Benesch 0515, Benesch 0538 and the above-mentioned Crying Boy). Benesch 0505 (qv) seems to reflect a drawing by Rembrandt of the earlier 1650s, providing another possible confirmation that the drawings, if by him, are mostly late works from c.1650-54, as does the case of Benesch 0950 which, if by Rembrandt, seems unlikely to date from before the mid-1650s (but it could, perhaps, be a late work by Fabritius). Hopefully a more direct relationship between one of Fabritius’ paintings and a clearly preparatory sketch will eventually come to light; but at present, the only clear connection is with a painting that does not appear to be by Fabritius, as noted under Benesch 0491, which is slightly troubling. Another possible argument against the attribution is provided by Benesch 0511a (qv), which might be contemporaneous with a Rembrandt etching of 1656, two years after Fabritius' death.

Overall, however, the attribution of the drawings in the group to Carel Fabritius has much to recommend it. But it must be said that in quality they are somewhat variable and perhaps, with time, the group may be perceived as including works by the hand of more than one artist.

A copy is in the Albertina.[5]

Condition: Good; the lead white partly oxidised.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date: c.1650-54?

COLLECTION: CH Winterthur, Oskar Reinhart Collection “Am Römerholz” (inv.1932.2).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Mellaart, 1926, repr. pl.5; Benesch, 1935, p.35; Exh. Bern, 1937, no.194; Exh. Bern, 1939-40, no.178; Exh. Zürich, 1940-41, no.107, repr. pl.II; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no. 500, repr. (c.1640-42; interior taken from Amsterdam synagogues; compares Benesch 0488, Benesch 0501-8 and Benesch 0512; ‘masterly handling of chiaroscuro …[with] four different sources of light suggested by reserving the paper ground or by […] white bodycolour); Exh. Winterthur, 1955, no.174; Sumowski, 1958, p.193, under no.28; Sumowski, 1961, p.9, no.500; Winterthur, 1975, pp.66 and 354, repr. fig.19; SP, under no.1094; Sumowski, Drawings, I, 1979, under no.206x (Rembrandt); Sumowski, Gemälde, III, 1983, p.1644, under no. 1094; Amsterdam, 1985, under no.63, repr. figs.63a and with detail repr. p.139 (C. Fabritius?; connects with Schwerin painting – see Comments above – and especially with drawings now in Amsterdam of the Messenger Presenting Saul’s Crown to David, Benesch 0506; inv.RP-T-1930-15, and the Liberation of St Peter, Sumowski 220x as Bol, inv. RP-T-1930-31); Exh. Paris, 1988-89, under no.76; Winterthur, 1993, p.36, repr.; Winterthur, 2003, pp.214-216, no.33, repr. (as Amsterdam, 1985); Exh. The Hague-Schwerin, 2004-5, repr. p.69, fig.62 (as an example of attributions to C. Fabritius); Schatborn, 2006, pp.130, 133-35, repr. fig.4 (as Amsterdam, 1985 but also compares the ruff of the scribe, lower left, with the collar in Fabritius’ Self-Portrait painting in Rotterdam [Exh. The Hague-Schwerin, 2004-5, no.7); Exh. Los Angeles, 2009-10, pp.138-39, repr. figs.20a-b (as Amsterdam, 1985); Exh. Amsterdam, 2014, under no.15, repr. fig. 15a and detail fig. 15c (as Amsterdam, 1985); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.].

PROVENANCE: J.-D. Lempereur (L.1740); Prinz Algoutinsky-Dolgurov, Paris; J.H.J. Mellaart (dealer – see Literature)?; O. Reinhart.

[1] For the date of Fabritius' apprenticeship, see Exh. The Hague-Schwerin, 2004-5, p.17, which suggests the years c.1641-43. But one drawing, Benesch 0709, if by him, suggests that there was direct contact with Rembrandt c.1646. For Schatborn's attribution, see Amsterdam, 1985, nos.61-66, which includes a discussion of the present drawing under no.63. Since describing this group, of seven drawings, many other drawings have been associated with the “Fabritius group”. In the present catalogue, the following drawings are or might be ascribed to Fabritius, with varying degrees of caution (this list is still work in progress and may change and expand, or even contract; it is noticeable that many represent subjects from Christ's Passion - perhaps the artist was planning a series on the subject): Benesch 0074a; 0212, 0214, 0311, 0412, 0480a, 0487, 0488, 0491, 0496, 0497, 0497A, 0498, 0499, 0500, 0501, 0502, 0502a, 0503, 0504, 0505, 0506, 0507, 0508, 0509, 0510, 0511a, 0512, 0513, 0514, 0515, 0518 recto; 0518a, 0518b, 0523, 0525, 0528 (perhaps an early work?), 0531, 0533, 0538, 0545, 0549, 0550, 0551, 0556, 0562, 0574, 0583, 0589, 0593, 0594, 0596, 0610, 0612, 0613, 0679, 0709 (perhaps only retouched by Fabritius), 0791-93 (perhaps), 0940 (perhaps), 950 (??), 1065; the Crying Boy (under the ‘Not in Benesch’ tab, discussed above, where it is illustrated with two further drawings that come in contention). Other drawings attributed to him, or that might be (some of which could possibly be by Barend Fabritius) include, in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (all findable online using the inventory numbers), The Adoration of the Shepherds (inv. RP-T-1883-A-217), the Liberation of St Peter (a copy, inv. RP-T-1930-31), Isaac Blessing Jacob (probably a copy; inv. RP-T-1886-A-629; another version in Berlin), An Elderly Couple Handing out Goods to Children (with on the verso a Sketch of a Drill and Barrel, inv. RP-T-1881-A-115); in the Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig, Christ Among the Doctors (inv. inv./cat.nr N.I. 3006 b; viewable at https://rkd.nl/explore/images/28369 [accessed 9 September, 2020]); in the British Museum, London (all findable online using the inventory numbers), Joseph Waiting on his Fellow-Prisoners (inv. Oo,9.101), The Prodigal Son Among the Swine (probably a copy; inv. T,14.24, formerly FAWK,5213.24), The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds (perhaps a copy; inv. SL,5237.61, formerly A,22.61), The Infant Moses Brought to Pharaoh's Daughter (inv.1933,1014.25; was formerly attributed to Barend Fabritius); New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jacob and Rachel (inv.06.1042.10), Christ Among the Doctors (perhaps a copy; Lehmann collection, inv.1975.1.786); Paris, Fondation Custodia (see under Benesch 0491, Fig.b); Paris, Louvre, Benesch A52, inv.22935, Seated Man (inv.RF 29026, HdG 783, Paris, 1988, no.286, Exh. Dijon, 2003-2004, no.63), and perhaps Benesch A49 (inv. 22882), Benesch A50 (inv. 23001) and Benesch A51 (inv.22996); on the art market: Tobias Taking Leave of Raguel (sale, London, Sotheby's, 4 July, 2012, lot 102; Sumowski 216x); Jacob and Rachel (sale, London, Christies', 3 July, 2012, lot 51); The Departure of the Young Tobias (sale, New York, Christie's, 2015, lot 54); Abraham and the Angels (sale, New York, Christie's, 28 January, 2020, lot 49 [cf. the Rijksmuseum drawing mentioned above, RP-T-1881-A-115]); Peasants Gathered Outside a Hovel (sale, London, Sotheby’s, 29 July, 2020, lot 215, repr. [the present writer’s attribution, later confirmed by e-mail by Peter Schatborn and Holm Bevers]).

[2] Sumowski, Drawings, I, 1979, ascribed some of these drawings to Ferdinand Bol, whose name had occasionally been suggested earlier.

[3] In an email to the compiler on 20 July 2020, Peter Schatborn wrote: “The comparison of the hand [in Benesch 500a] with the hands I mentioned […] is not completely correct, as on the Schwerin painting you see two fingers and at the right a shorter, shaded thumb, and a shaded finger at the left, and on the Winterthur drawing you see at the right of the hand a shorter thumb and three fingers, the most left one shorter and somewhat shaded”.

[4] For the series, see under Benesch 0382, n.4; the two paintings referred to here are, respectively, Bredius 574; Wetering 2011a; and Wetering 211b (not in Bredius). Because of the resemblances to Rembrandt it is tempting to surmise that another Rembrandt prototype may lie behind the present work.

[5] Inv. 8791 (as mentioned by Benesch, with earlier literature; viewable online at: https://sammlungenonline.albertina.at/#/query/265f4c56-53a5-4181-9193-3d91543ffe8e [accessed 30 August 2020]).

First posted 31 August 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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