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CATALOGUE Benesch 477- (in progress)

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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. These 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, speaks for another intervention by Rembrandt, this time in the style he was himself employing in Benesch 0479 (see Figs.b and f). 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 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]
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 must also have added the heads at the bottom right of Benesch 0478 (which compare very closely with the equivalent head in Benesch 0479). 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, III, 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 (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. [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.
[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).
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, III, 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, III, 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 right 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 Ferdinand Bol (cf. Benesch 0480) but could be a work of a slightly later date by another pupil, as the style also resembles that of Benesch 0483-84 more than anything certainly by Bol or his master (and 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.
However, the description of the arch above on the left in rapid-fire, unhesitating penlines that convey the correct perspective precisely merits another look: the quality here is suddenly extraordinary and the lines drawn so fast that the nib outran the ink in the parallel lines in the upper right section of the arch. The style in this area is again reminiscent of Benesch 0736 – compare the fully looping line at the top left with that in the awning towards the top left of Star of the Kings (see the detail illustrated) – but at a more hurried moment. This leap in the draughtsman’s capacity strongly suggests that the architectural elements of the drawing were deftly amplified at the upper left by Rembrandt. The freely drawn framing lines at the left and across the top also appear to belong to this development by Rembrandt, who may have added the dab of wash, rubbed with the finger, at the upper left, and a few touches with the reed pen above the upper onlooker sporting a feather and also at the lower right.
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: School of Rembrandt (Ferdinand Bol??), corrected by Rembrandt.
Date: c.1644-46.
COLLECTION: USA Worcester, Worcester Art Museum (inv.1956.99).
FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, III, 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.
First posted 21 May 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, III, 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, III, 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, III, 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 are 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.
Given 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, 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. Indeed, the style 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 Roger van der Weyden, Mantegna and Michelangelo.
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, III, 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, III, 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.
There are occasions when a cataloguer of all Rembrandt’s drawings will be reduced, at least to a degree, to a dependence on their own instinct. In this case his 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).
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, III, 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 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 girl 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, she is running, and reminiscent in her pose of 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, Javob Backer and Samuel van Hoogstraten.[3]
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, III, 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.; 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.
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, III, 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 uncalculated 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 the 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, which is 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 substantial extra, 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. The mounted Mordechai, in the print, is less elevated than the figures surrounding him, whereas in the drawing he forms the high point 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 point entirely 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 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 is a half-way house between the two: it brings Haman in front 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 (later demolished under Pope Urban VIII), in the drawing they are dispensed with and replaced by a 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 the one substituted by Lastman – assuming its taller, present-day form, complete with Egyptian obelisk, only in 1711.[2] Thus the drawing is clearly intermediary, between the Lastman 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 so unusual, 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 the two related school drawings, also in the Rijksmuseum and 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 with nothing of the character of those so energetically added here with the reed pen. The faces, none of which individualise the characters in their various psychological predicaments, might also suggest that the draughtsman was not Rembrandt himself. Among the nearest 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, which may 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 sees 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 -- it remains difficult to place the drawing style at such an early moment in Rembrandt’s 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 only appears later still, from around 1650 onwards.
The compiler is persuaded that the drawing’s place in the development of the etching (Fig.a), combined with the wholly extraordinary power of its execution, speak loudly for Rembrandt.[4] Others will disagree on grounds of style, preferring an attribution to Carel Fabritius, although there is little by way of concrete evidence to support such a theory.[5] The idea that he would burst onto the scene, fully-fledged and capable of producing such forceful work, is improbable; or that later on, he would create a drawing that lay so clearly on the road between the Lastman painting and Rembrandt's etching. It is far more likely that the pupils' drawings, like those mentioned above, which are in any way reminiscent of the present sketch, took their inspiration from Rembrandt - what could be more natural? The only further ripostes are explained above and in the Introduction (see the ‘About’ tab), which points out that even the documentary drawings exhibit inconsistencies and surprises, so that we should expect other surprises to have emerged from Rembrandt’s studio. As Rosenberg wrote so memorably in 1959 (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 533]) 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 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.”
The subject became popular in the wake of Lastman’s painting and Rembrandt’s print and examples are known by (or attributed to) 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: Rembrandt.
Date: c.1640-41.
COLLECTION: P Wroclaw, Ossolineum (old inv. no. 8705).
FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, 1947, no.119, repr.; Münz, 1952, under no.178 (not Rembrandt); Benesch, III, 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 cae (Exh. Amsterdam-London, 2000-2001, pp.67, 75 and 77).
[5] On Fabritius as a draughtsman, see Schatborn, 2006.I, which extends ideas mooted in his Exh. Amsterdam, 1985 catalogue mentioned above. Benesch 0487 is not mentioned there, but the attribution to Fabritius mentioned in Exh. Wroclaw, 2006, no.31, was almost certainly suggested by him.
[6] See https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images#query=Triumph+of+Mordecai (accessed 29 June 2020).
First posted 30 June 2020.

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.
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 extended.) 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 (here illustrated as printed and also in reverse – see Fig.a), especially if comparing the etching in reverse (on the right of 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 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, III, 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.

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