a revision of Otto Benesch's catalogue raisonné

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CATALOGUE Benesch 477- (in progress)


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Abbreviations: the bibliographical abbreviations refer to the literature listed under the Bibliography tab. It should be assumed that the authors quoted regarded the drawings referred to as by Rembrandt unless otherwise stated.


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'See, Benesch [number], [date of catalogue entry] (accessed [date])'. For example: See, Benesch 152, 2 June 2013 (accessed 12 March 2018).


Benesch 0477

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

Verso: Blank except marks/inscriptions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary attribution: Rembrandt*

Date:  c.1640.

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

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

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

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

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

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

First posted 3 May 2020.


Benesch 0478

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

Verso: Blank

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary attribution: Ferdinand Bol? Retouched by Rembrandt.

Date:  c.1640.

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

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

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

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

[2] This is disputed by Dickey, 1996, who argues in support of her theory that Mennonite martyrs are depicted, that three martyrdoms are shown, as Rembrandt would not show the events in a right/left/centre sequence, which shed describes as uncharacteristic of Rembrandt (but without citing examples). She also notes the affinity to a drawing by Guercino of the rare subject of the Beheading of Sts John and Paul in Rome in c.361-63, now in the Morgan Library (inv. I, 101h-i; online at: [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 [accessed 20 June 2020]). I am grateful to Prof. Dickey for commenting on these entries when in draft (Benesch 0477-485a; e-mail to the compiler, 20 June 2020).

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

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

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

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

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

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

[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 ( accessed 16 May 2020).

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

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

First posted 21 May 2020.


Benesch 0479

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

Verso: See inscriptions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date:  c.1640.

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

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

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

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

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

First posted 21 May 2020.


Benesch 0480

Subject:  The Beheading of St John the Baptist

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

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

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

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

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

A copy is in Besançon (inv. D.2645).

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

Summary attribution: Ferdinand Bol, retouched by Rembrandt.

Date:  c.1640 (or later?).

COLLECTION: Private Collection.

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

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

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

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

First posted 21 May 2020.


Benesch 0480a

Subject:  The Beheading of St John the Baptist

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

216 x 196.

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

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

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

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1650.

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

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

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

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

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


Benesch 0481

Subject:  A Woman Kneeling and Bowing Low

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

82 x 86 (arched at top).

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

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

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

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

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date:  c.1652.

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

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

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

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

First posted 21 May 2020.


Benesch 0482

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

Verso: An Executioner Beheading a Prisoner

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

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

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

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

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

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. Compare also, for example, the figure the left with those in the centre of Benesch A35a of 1644 [discussed under the 'Not in Benesch' tab], in whixch the diagonal hatching is also at times remarkably similar. Indeed, the style of Benesch 0482 contrasts with most other documentary drawings of the early 1640s, such as Benesch 0500a and Benesch 0759, and a later date would bring the drawing into closer proximity with Rembrandt’s 1645 etching of the subject, in which the composition is, yet again, thought anew in a more reflective mood (Bartsch 84; NH 223). However, while the door should remain open in order to admit such a possibility, the comparable style of the corrections by Rembrandt observed in Benesch 0478 and Benesch 0480 still admits the generally-accepted theory that Benesch 0482 recto also dates from c.1640, the date of the etched Beheading of the Baptist. It may stand, like Benesch 0292 (to some degree), as an adumbration of Rembrandt’s later, more liquid style, with which here, in the heart-rending description in just a few lines of the weeping woman on the left, he reaches for the epic pathos of the mourners of Christ created by such luminaries as Rogier van der Weyden, Mantegna and Michelangelo.

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

Summary attribution: Rembrandt(*).[2]

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

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

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

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

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

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

First posted 21 May 2020.


Benesch 0483

Subject:  Christ Carried to the Tomb

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

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

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

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

Summary attribution: School of Rembrandt/Rembrandt??

Date:  1650-55?

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

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

PROVENANCE: Acquired by the present repository before 1756.

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

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

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

First posted 17 June 2020.


Benesch 0484

Subject:  Christ Carried to the Tomb

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary attribution: School of Rembrandt.

Date:  c.1650-55?

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

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

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

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

First posted 17 June 2020.


Benesch 0485

Subject:  Christ Carried to the Tomb

Medium: Pen and brown ink.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date:  c.1642-47.

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

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

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

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

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

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

First posted 17 June 2020.


Benesch 0485a

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

Medium: Pen and brown ink.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date:  c.1642-45.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First posted 17 June 2020.


Benesch 0486

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

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

180 x 191.

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

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

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

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

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date:  c.1639-41.

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

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

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

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

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

First posted 23 June 2020.


Benesch 0487

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Condition: Good.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1650-54.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[6] See (accessed 29 June 2020).

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


Benesch 0488

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

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

174 x 260.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date: c.1645-50.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

First posted 6 July 2020.


Benesch 0489

Subject:  The Holy Family(?)

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

135 x 194.

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

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

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

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

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

Condition: Somewhat spotted and stained.

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

Date:  c.1645-50?

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

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

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

[1] See Held, 1969 and 1980.

[2] See Tümpel, 1969, pp.127-28.

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

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

First posted 21 July 2020.


Benesch 0490

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

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

200 x 285.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary attribution: Ferdinand Bol?

Date:  c.1639?

COLLECTION: USA Private Collection.

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

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

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

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

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

First posted 30 July 2020.


Benesch 0491

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

Verso: Laid down on old mat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1641-45.

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

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

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

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

[2] Bartsch 58; Hollstein 240 (for an impression in the British Museum, see: (accessed 1 August 2020).

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

[4]  Inv. AE 660; Benesch C30; see (accessed 1 August 2020).

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

First posted 1 August 2020.


Benesch 0492

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

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown wash.

142 x 125.

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

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

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

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

Summary attribution: Ferdinand Bol.

Date:  c.1641-45?

COLLECTION: NL Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum (inv. RP-T-1901-A-4527;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[6] See Held, 1969 and 1980.

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

First posted 3 August 2020.


Benesch 0493

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

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

231 x 353.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Date:  c.1641-45.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First posted 9 August 2020.


Benesch 0494

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary attribution: Ferdinand Bol?

Date:  c.1642-48.

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

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

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

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

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

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

First posted 13 August 2020.


Benesch 0495

Subject:  Christ Among his Disciples

Verso: Laid down

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

198 x 260.

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

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

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

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

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

By splitting hairs, deviations can often be found between drawings by the same hand; but in the drawings of such an adventurously experimental artist as Rembrandt, they are to be expected. Overall, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that Philips Koninck or another hand was responsible, as the illustrations will, hopefully, demonstrate to all but the most obdurate observers. As anyone with wide experience of practising drawing will know – and most art-historians do not qualify – it is not an activity that is experienced in some form of uninterrupted, consistent continuum of style; rather, by its very nature creative and adventurous, one that is often likely to be as haphazard and unpredictable as attempting a new recipe or sight-reading a new piece of music. This is stressed in the introduction to this catalogue. Certainly, we can all appreciate the unusual character of the drawing; but its de-attribution is not required in order to explain its appearance satisfactorily. The connections with Rembrandt’s own works are strong, the drawing is vastly richer in its characterisations and varied in its touch than anything by his pupils, from the needlepoint description of the seated disciple at the centre left to the 'twentieth-century' breadth of the figures seated on the right; and the fact that a slight connection may be made with the work of a pupil, in this case Philips Koninck, is hardly cause for the widespread discombobulation it has engendered, particularly in the face of such a remarkable masterpiece of drawing. In yet further support of the attribution to Rembrandt, another comparison may be invoked: with Benesch 0190 (Fig.f), with its similar use of strong lines and dark, liquid touches over a lighter underdrawing, the heavier lines in particular having the same character in the figure on the left as they do in the Christ in the present drawing.[3]

Condition: A vertical tear runs about one third of the way along the sheet, left of centre; the inks appear to have faded at different rates, as suggested also by the copy in the Louvre (Fig.b); some parts of the drawing were worked up by a later hand, sometimes in grey (see further above).[4]

Summary attribution: Rembrandt.

Date:  c.1648-52.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First posted 18 August 2020.


Benesch 0496

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

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

155 x 208.

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

Condition: Somewhat light-struck but generally good.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1650-54.

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

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

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

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

First posted 24 August 2020.


Benesch 0497

Subject:  Tobias with the Angel Cleaning the Fish

Verso: Blank

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

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

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

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

Condition: Good; the white bodycolour has partly oxidised.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1650-52?

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

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

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

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

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

First posted 25 August 2020.


Benesch 0497A

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

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

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

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

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

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

Condition: Overall discoloured pale brownish.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1650?

COLLECTION: Private Collection.[3]

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

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

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

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

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

First posted 26 August 2020.


Benesch 0498

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

Verso: See inscriptions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1645-50?

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

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

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

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

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

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

First posted 28 August 2020.


Benesch 0499

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1645-50?

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

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

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

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

First posted 29 August 2020.


Benesch 0500

Subject:  Christ Among the Doctors

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

220 x 295.

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

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

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

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

A copy is in the Albertina.[5]

Condition: Good; the lead white partly oxidised.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1650-54?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[5] Inv. 8791 (as mentioned by Benesch, with earlier literature; viewable online at: [accessed 30 August 2020]).

First posted 31 August 2020.


Benesch 0500a

Subject:  Two Men in Discussion near a Doorway

Verso: Blank

Medium: Pen and brown ink with some brown wash and touched with white bodycolour; ruled framing lines in pen and (a different, warmer) brown ink. Signed below centre in the same ink as the drawing: “Rembrandt f 1641”

229 x 185. Watermark: Posthorn in crowned shield, ‘WR’ below (cf. Laurentius, p. 256, no.622 [1644]); chain lines: 26/27h; 17 laid/cm.

COMMENTS: A documentary drawing by Rembrandt, because it is signed and dated 1641. The signature seems unimpeachable and may, for example, be compared with that in Rembrandt’s fourth letter to Constantijn Huygens of January 1639 (see Fig.a).[1] The capital “R” in both is almost identical, with a heavier touch in and near the lower right tail; the “e” and “m” are connected with a gap before the “b” (in the drawing, the “b” lacks the usual loop at the top), the “a” and “n” are similar and joined up in both, with a gap before the “d”, which in turn loops towards the final “t”, which in the drawing is largely absent due to a missing fragment of paper.

The drawing was connected (by Benesch) with Rembrandt’s etching of the same year, the Three Oriental Figures (Jacob and Laban?), who also stand near a doorway, one clutching his belt in a similar fashion to the main figure in the drawing.[2] The iconography of both is uncertain – indeed, it has been argued that the drawing is merely a sheet with two independent figure studies – and there are many clear differences between them.[3] Rembrandt lavished particular care on the vivid portrait and detailed description of the figure on the left, who wears  a costume reminiscent of Polish examples, and this suggests that the character and his costume were of some particular significance for the artist, but whether he was an exotic traveller or set up to be included in a biblical scene remains obscure.[4]  

The style of the drawing, with its horizontal striations at the lower left of the shaded cloak, resembles Benesch 0759 of the previous year.

The drawing provides an example of the flaws in Benesch’s analytical methods, as the many drawings he compared with it all clearly deviate from it clearly and significantly in style (he compared Benesch 0488-89, Benesch 0491, Benesch 0497, Benesch 0498, Benesch 0500 and Benesch 0656).                                                                                                            

Condition: Somewhat worn and faded; losses made up at top and centre-left, lower left, top and bottom centre (in the signature below); creases near left edge; foxed and light struck with general discolouration; the sheet has been cut on the right (where there is no framing line) and probably a little below, to judge from the signature.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt*

Date:  1641.

COLLECTION: GB London, The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery (Princes Gate Collection; inv. D.1978.PG.190).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: London, 1960, no.190; Haverkamp-Begemann, 1961, p.51 (not a Biblical subject but two independent studies of figures); London, 1971, III, no.190, repr.; Benesch, 3, 1973, no.500a, repr. fig.658 (probably biblical subject; connected with the etching of Three Oriental Figures [Bartsch 118; NH 190]; compares Benesch 0488-89, Benesch 0491, Benesch 0497, Benesch 0498, Benesch 0500 and Benesch 0656); Sumowski, Drawings, I, 1979, under no.238x; Sumowski, Drawings, IV, 1981, under no.953x; Amsterdam, 1985, under no.17, n.7 (comparing style with Benesch 0541); Exh. London, 1992, under nos.37-41 and 93, n.3, repr. p.224, pl.6 (as a reliable starting point for attributions); Exh. Los Angeles, 2009-10, no. 21.1, repr. (suggests not drawn from life; and that the figure with his arm outstretched originally placed it on the ledge; signed because an example for Rembrandt’s pupils); London, 2010 (online), under nos 34-36, 74-75 and 105, n.3); Royalton-Kisch, 2011, pp.98-99, n.11 ; Royalton-Kisch and Schatborn, 2011, p.338, no.49, repr. fig.123 (documentary drawing); Exh. London-New York, 2012-13; Amsterdam, 2017, (accessed 2 September 2020); Schatborn, 2019, no. 365, repr..

PROVENANCE: Otto Wertheimer; O’Rooney, Ireland (according to Benesch); Count Antoine Seilern, by whom bequeathed to the present repository, 1978.

[1] Strauss & Van der Meulen, 1979, RD 1639/3; Remdoc online: document/remdoc/e4459 [accessed 2 September 2020). On Rembrandt’s signatures, see also under Benesch 0057, n.7.

[2] Bartsch 118; NH 190.

[3] The Jacob and Laban idea for the etching may have been in Rembrandt’s mind; but a close inspection of the outstretched hand of the right hand figure in the drawing suggests it may hold a few coins or, perhaps, gems, suggesting a transaction may have been underway. Schatborn, in Exh. Los Angeles, 2009-10, no.21.1 , suggests the figures were drawn from memory and earlier examples, but the exacting detail and portrait character of the figure on the left rather argues that this was done from life. Haverkamp-Begemann, 1961, p.51, argued that the drawing is merely a sketch of two independent figures, and it is true that the gaze of the figure on the left does not seem to be directed at the man on the right; but as the drawing was cut at the right, he may have been looking towards another figure or motif.

[4] The left figure was identified in summary as Armenian from Turkey by Chroscicki, 1987, p.47, but without supporting evidence.

First posted 5 September 2020.


Benesch 0501

Subject:  The Annunciation to the Shepherds (Luke, II, 8-20)

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown and greyish wash, heightened with white; ruled framing lines in pen and dark brown or black ink. Inscribed verso, upper centre (partly crossed out and erased): “338[?]6 / 331”; and beneath this in graphite: “32”; and below, in graphite: “G. Flinck / (Rembrandt? / Prof. Woermann)”

176 x 200 mm.

COMMENTS: In style, a characteristic example of drawings now assigned to the “Carel Fabritius” group (see under Benesch 0500).[1] Compare from this group perhaps especially Benesch 0505-6 and Benesch 0513. Benesch 0502, though more broadly drawn, is by the same  hand and depicts the same subject, but it is hard to determine which drawing was made first: the more detailed style of the present drawing might argue for its being a more definitive and thus later version, though the looser style of Benesch 0502 might also argue for a later date in the artist’s still uncertain chronology.

Despite the change to a larger scale, it is clear that the design of the Hamburg drawing was inspired by Rembrandt’s etching of 1634 (Fig.a).[2] In 1639 his fellow Rembrandt-pupil, Govert Flinck, had already taken inspiration from this print for his own painting of the subject, now in the Louvre, which may also have been known to the draughtsman.[3] For two later drawn versions by Rembrandt, see Benesch 0999 and Benesch 1023.

Condition: Good; slight oxidation of the lead white pigment.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date: c.1645-50?  

COLLECTION: D Hamburg, Kunsthalle (L.1328; inv.21945).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Valentiner, I, 1925, no.289, repr. (c.1646-48);[4] Falck, 1927, pp.168-80; Benesch, 1935, p.35; Gerson, 1936, p.175, no. Z LXXI (Rembrandt, c.1648); Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.501, repr. (c.1640-42; relates to group around Benesch 0500; Benesch 0502 another project with the same subject); Bialostocki, 1956, pp.366-67 (with Benesch 0502 similar to Van den Eeckout drawing in Warsaw [Exh. Warsaw, 1956, no.37]); Sumowski, 1961, p.9 (Flinck; with Munich, 1973, no.1092, inv.5146, related to Flinck’s painting in the Louvre, inv. 1291, Sumowski, Gem., no.615); Munich, 1973, under no.1092; Exh. Nice, 1975, no.21; Bernhard, 1976, p.93, repr. fig.293; Exh. Bremen, 2000–2001, pp.24-29 and no.63, repr. (heavenly sphere brought nearer the ground than in other versions; Exh. Munich-Amsterdam, 2001-2002, under no.78; Hamburg, 2011, no.325, repr. (attrib. to C. Fabritius following observation of Bevers at 2008 symposium; compares Benesch 0502 and Jacob and Rachel in New York, Metropolitan Museum, inv. 06.1042.10); Exh. Amsterdam, 2012, no.37, repr. p.66; [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Chevalier de Damery (L. 2862); W.A. Verbrugge; his sale, The Hague, 27 September, 1831 and following days, lot D12, bt by Georg Ernst Harzen (L. 1244; NH Ad:01:02, fol.23 as “Govert Flinck”: 7.5.6.; NH Ad: 02: 01, S. 251); bequeathed by Harzen 1863 to the “Städtische Galerie”, Hamburg, whence transferred to the present repository after its opening in 1869.

[1] My own notes suggested the attribution in 1987; Bevers came to the same conclusion by 2008, as recorded in Hamburg, 2011, no.325 (see Literature above).

[2] As recognised by Stefes in Hamburg, 2011, no.325.

[3] Inv.1291.

[4] Stefes, loc. cit., records a note of 1919 in which Valentiner informed Gustav Pauli that the drawing is not by Rembrandt but rather by Flinck or Van den Eeckhout; he must have changed his mind before Valentiner, 1925 (“Von W. Valentiner mit Bestimmtheit Rembrandt abgesprochen. Ev. für Flinck oder Eeckhout angesehen”); and that Karl Woermann also thought the drawing by Rembrandt (note on the verso).

First posted 7 September 2020.


Benesch 0502

Subject:  The Annunciation to the Shepherds (Luke, II, 8-20)

Medium: Pen (and reed pen) and brown ink with brown wash, heightened with white; traces of red chalk. Inscribed lower left, in blue chalk: "86" and towards the right in pen and brown ink: "5146"; inscribed verso in pen and brown ink: "117" and "1408" and in graphite: "R.brandt", "HdG 373" and "26".

167 x 242. Watermark: unclear, perhaps a foolscap.

COMMENTS: The drawing is one of the most boldly executed that may be included in the “Carel Fabritius” group of drawings, for which see under Benesch 0500. Compare for style especially the broad lines of Benesch 0506 and Benesch 0518b. The thick penlines also resemble the outer areas of the drawing of the same subject, Benesch 0501 (qv). In the present drawing many lines and washes resemble the appearance of the brush in oil paint, as seen especially in the underpaint of some of Fabritius’ paintings (see Fig.a). These comparisons help affirm the likelihood of the attribution.[1] See also the illustrations of this type under Benesch 0497A, Fig.a, and Benesch 0498A, Fig.a. As with other drawings in the group, the drawing is difficult to date, but its breadth and the apparent use of a reed pen might suggest that it is a late work of c.1650 or slightly later, the period when Rembrandt also employed this instrument on a regular basis.

Condition: Generally good.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1645-50?

COLLECTION: D Munich, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung (inv.1408).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Munich, 1884-93, no.45a, repr.; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.373; Saxl, 1908, p.341; Saxl, 1908.I, p.532; Neumann, 1918.I, no.67, repr.; Valentiner, I, 1925, no.292, repr. (late, c.1660); Benesch, 1935, p.35; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.502, repr. fig.625/662 (c.1640-42; relates animals to Benesch 0503-4 and Benesch 523;  Bialostocki, 1956, pp.366-67 (with Benesch 0501 similar to Van den Eeckout drawing in Warsaw [Exh. Warsaw, 1956, no.37]; Exh. Munich, 1957, no.15; Wegner, 1966, p.104; Exh. Munich, 1966-67, no.21; Trautschold, 1967, p.117; Munich, 1973, no.1092, repr. pl.309; Sumowski, Drawings, I, 1979, under no.218x; Exh. Bremen, 2000-2001, under no.63; Exh. Munich-Amsterdam, 2001-2, no.78, repr. (Rembrandt?; 1640-42); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Elector (Kurfürst) Carl Theodor (1724-1799), Munich (L.620; old inv.5146, as Rembrandt).

[1] The Raising of Lazarus, c.1643, Warsaw, Muzeum Narodowe (Sumowski, Gemälde, II, 1983, no.601; Exh. The Hague-Schwerin, 2004, no.1) and the Hagar and the Angel, c.1643-45?, Leiden Collection, New York, (Sumowski, Gemälde,  V, no. 2071, and VI, no. 2071; Exh. The Hague-Schwerin, 2004, no.2). Bevers also suggested the attribution in an e-mail to the compiler, 15 July 2020.

First posted 8 September 2020.


Benesch 0502a

Subject:  David Taking Leave of Jonathan (1 Samuel, XX)

Medium: Pen (reed pen) and brown ink with brown and lighter, greyish-brown wash, with some white bodycolour.

131 x 217. Watermark: countermark “LB” (cf. Hinterding variant A.a.a., datable c.1650).

COMMENTS: Near the bridge in the distance, Jonathan’s servant is seen looking for the arrows.

In style the drawing belongs with the “Carel Fabritius” group (see under Benesch 0500). Although made with a reed pen, which gives the outlines, for example in the trees to the left, somewhat more breadth than usual, the characteristically curling lines, for example in the foliage on the right, is close enough to the trees on the left of both Benesch 0488 and Benesch 0496 to secure the attribution. There are also strong links with the broader lines in Benesch 0504 and Benesch 0506. As pointed out by Benesch (1955/73, no.0502a), the landscape with the bridge resembles Benesch 0792-93. The dependence here is on Rembrandt’s style in sketches like Benesch 0470, but in the Fabritius group the lines are somewhat more decorative and calligraphic. Although the reed pen is less broadly used than in Benesch 0502, the drawing, if by Fabritius, could also belong to the last decade of his short life, as is also suggested here by the watermark.

Condition: Good.

Summary attribution: D Berlin, Staatliche Museen Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett (inv.5254).

Date:  c.1645-50.

COLLECTION: Charles Gasc (according to Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.33); Adolf von Beckerath (1834-1915), with whose collection acquired in 1902 by the present repository in return for a lifetime annuity.

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Michel, 1893, p.574; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.33; Freise, Lilienfeld and Wichmann, II, 1914, no.17; Baudissin, 1925, p.191 (The Oath of Jonathan); Valentiner, I, 1925, no.157, repr. (c.1640-45; Jonathan Consoling David); Kauffmann, 1926, p.158, n.2; Berlin, 1930, p.222, inv.5254 (c.1645-50; Jonathan Taking Leave from David); Exh. Berlin, 1930, no.268 (c.1645-50); Weski, 1942, p.141 (mid-1640s); Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.502a, repr. (c.1640-42; compares for style Benesch 0502, Benesch 0503 and figures to right of Benesch 0504; landscape similar to Benesch 0792-93; subject and composition culminate in Benesch 0552 and in the Hermitage painting of 1642, Bredius 511; Wetering 188); Exh. Berlin, 1956, no.96 (c.1645-50); Sumowski, 1961, p.10 (by Bol, as also Benesch 0496): Exh. Münster, 1994, pp.92 and 103, n.33; Berlin, 2018, no.70, repr. (C. Fabritius, c.1645; compares two drawings in Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam: the Liberation of St Peter, inv. RP-T-1930-31, and the Messenger Presenting Saul’s Crown to David, inv.RP-T-1930-15, Benesch 0506; landscape compared with Benesch 0497); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Charles Gasc (according to Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.33); Adolf von Beckerath (1834-1915), with whose collection acquired in 1902 by the present repository in return for a lifetime annuity.

First posted 9 September 2020.


Benesch 0503

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

Verso: Laid down on card

Medium: Pen (reed pen) and dark brown ink with brown wash and some grey-brown wash (a few touches of wash, e.g. on Rebecca’s face, may be by a later hand); ruled framing lines in pen and dark brown ink mostly cut away but visible at top centre. Inscribed by a later hand, lower left, in pen and black ink: “Elieser et Rebeca gen. 24. v. 14” and lower right in pen and brown ink: “9147”

211 x 332. Watermark: none visible; chain lines: horizontal (distance apart uncertain).

COMMENTS: This is the most broadly drawn of the sketches that can be associated with the “Carel Fabritius” group of drawings (see under Benesch 0500). The sweeping lines exhibit a mature confidence that makes one suspect that it was drawn towards the end of Fabritius’ life. The gestural draughtsmanship seems especially comparable to Benesch 0502 and Benesch 0502a. In the former, the abbreviated animals at the lower left are particularly similar. See further under Benesch 0491 for other, more finished drawings of this subject by the same artist.

Condition: Good; slightly foxed and some whites oxidising.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1650-54?

COLLECTION: USA Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art (Widener Collection; inv. 1942.9.665).  

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Valentiner, I, 1925, no. 51, repr.; H. Comstock, International Studio, December, 1926, p.32; Exh. Chicago, 1935-36, no.41; Exh. San Francisco, 1939-40 (1941), no.81; Exh. Philadelphia, 1950-51, no.53, repr.; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.503, repr. (c.1640-42; refers to Benesch 0500 and Benesch 0502; notes copy in Weimar); Exh. Washington, 1969, no.30, repr.; Exh. Washington, 1978, p.56; Starcky, 1993, p.218, n.11 (listed with other drawings inscribed by Mariette); Exh. Washington-Fort Worth, 1990-91, p.166; Exh. Bremen, 2000-2001, p.70, repr. fig. a; Exh. Dresden 2004, under no.29, repr. fig.a (Rembrandt); Exh. Washington, 2006 (not mentioned in catalogue); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Pierre Crozat (with his inscription, recto);[1] his sale, Paris, 10 April - 13 May, 1741; George Guy, Earl of Warwick; his sale, London, Christie’s, 21 May 1896; Thomas Halstead; Joseph E. Widener, by whom presented to the present repository, 1942.

[1] See Schatborn, 1981, pp.41-46 on Mariette’s inscriptions.

First posted 10 September 2020.


Benesch 0504

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

Medium: Pen (reed pen) and brown ink with some brown wash, on two sheets of paper, joined or re-joined and laid down.

173 x 273.  

COMMENTS: This is a characteristic, if somewhat broader than usual, example of a drawing in the “Carel Fabritius” group (see under Benesch 0500). The foliage at the lower left may be compared with that at the lower right of Benesch 0497A, in which the figure of Elijah is picked out in more detail, as is the case here with the figure of Hagar. The cow on the right seems almost a twin of that in the lower left of Benesch 0502.

The use of the reed pen and the bold description of the landscape on the right argue for a late date and may be compared for style with the landscapes of the same period now attributed to Constantijn Daniël van Renesse (see, for example, Benesch 1367), which are certainly no earlier than the 1650s. If by Fabritius, the latest possible date would be the year of his death, 1654.

Of interest is the similarity between the figure of Abraham here and in Benesch 0549 (see the detail, Fig.a), a drawing of another subject and in a considerably more precise style.[1] The breadth of the handling here might suggest that it is the later of the two drawings, but it could also be argued that the present figure served as a model for his more finished counterpart. Indeed, although he climbs a step with his left foot, in Benesch 0549 he does not, but his foot still hints at the movement.

Yet more intriguing is the relationship between the drawing and the painting of the same subject of the early 1650s by Ferdinand Bol, now in St Petersburg (formerly in Moscow; see Fig.b):[2] the figure of Hagar is clearly dependent on the drawing, and the cow on the right also finds an echo there. The drawing shows no signs of having been derived from the painting – where Hagar’s right arm is at another angle and holds a kerchief. The angle of the head is also subtly different. It seems more likely that Bol took the figure either from the drawing, or that both artists were inspired by the same prototype, perhaps a lost work by Rembrandt.[3]

Condition: Generally good; some general discolouration and a few spots; see also under Medium above.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1650-54?

COLLECTION: Private Collection?

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Exh. Frankfurt, 1924, no.45; Valentiner, I, 1925, no.21, repr. (c.1640-45; some unusual characteristics; relates to Abraham in Benesch 0549); Benesch, 1935, p.35 (c.1640-41); Hamann, 1936, p.554, repr. fig.117 (possibly by Bol, corrected in reed pen by Rembrandt; relates to Bol’s painting [see main Comments above]); Weski, 1944, pp.113-14 (Bol); Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.504, repr. fig.627/665 (c.1640-42; used by Bol for his painting [on which see further under Comments above]); Sumowski, 1956/57, p.256 (school work); Drost, 1957, p.184, repr., detail repr. p.186, fig.209 (influenced by Elsheimer Ecce Homo, now in Frankfurt); Sumowski, 1959, p.288 (Bol); Sumowski, 1961, p./10 (school work because of derivation; perhaps Bol); Von Moltke, 1965, p.23 (Rembrandt); Blankert, 1976, p. 138, under no.A3 (possibly a studio work; style of Hagar relates to Hermitage picture [on which see Comments above]); Sumowski, Drawings, I, 1979, no.214x, repr. (Ferdinand Bol; mid-1640s; not retouched by Rembrandt; Abraham based on Benesch 0549; as Hamann, 1936 and Weski, 1944; relates Hagar to Bol’s Joseph in Prison, Hamburg, inv.22412, Sumowski 101, and Rest on the Flight into Egypt now in Düsseldorf, Sumowski 215x); Rubinstein in Sotheby’s sale catalogue, 2008 (C. Fabritius?; compares Rijksmuseum drawings attributed to him [here listed under Benesch 0500, n.1]); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: L. Grassi (L.1171b); W.R. Valentiner; his sale, Amsterdam, Mensing, 25 October, 1932, lot 1; Eldridge R. Johnson; by descent to Mr and Mrs George Fenimore Johnson, by whom sold, New York, Sotheby’s, 23 January, 2008, lot 168 ($37,000).

[1] As noticed by Valentiner, I, 1925, no.21.

[2] Sumowski, Gemälde, I, 1983, no. 92; the figure of Hagar in Barent Fabritius’ painting of the subject in San Francisco seems also to echo the figure, but is equally close to an earlier version by Pieter Lastman (see Sumowski, op. cit., III, no.547, repr.).

[3] Compare the example of Benesch 0475, in which Bol appears to have used a drawing that was not of his own making.

First posted 13 September 2020.


Benesch 0505

Subject:  Zipporah at the Inn: The Angel Attacking Moses and Zipporah Circumcising their Son (Exodus, IV, 24-26)

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown wash and some white bodycolour. Inscribed verso, in graphite, upper centre edge: "4"; and in the centre: "81"; lower left (unclear): "lElc [?]" and "CA" and "935"; lower left corner, in pen and brown ink: "Rembrant"

159 x 223.

COMMENTS: The subject was long thought to be The Angel Threatening Bileam but was correctly identified by Nieuwstraten (1966). Rare in art, the story of Zipporah at the Inn (the Angel Attacking Moses and Zipporah Circumcising their Son) has puzzled rabbis and other commentators for an eternity. In the New International Version of the Bible, the text runs: “At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. ‘Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,’ she said. So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)”[1] The lines are usually interpreted as supporting the timely practice of circumcision, though why Moses, of all people, had failed to circumcise his own son remains mysterious. One theory is that he had delayed doing so while travelling to Egypt, but that the delay was not sanctioned by God. The original Hebrew adds to the difficulty by failing to clarify (because of the pronouns employed) exactly who is doing or saying what, and with what, to whom. Also uncertain is which of Moses’ two sons is referred to, Gershom or Eliezer.

In style, the drawing belongs clearly to the “Carel Fabritius” group (for which see under Benesch 0500): compare, for example, the lower left to the same area of Benesch 0497A, and the landscape to the right with the background on the right of the same drawing.[2] There are some features of the drawing that appear to depend directly on models by Rembrandt, and one of them suggests a date: the aggressive pose of the angel, with the left arm stretched forward and the right bent back over the head, follows that of Jael in Benesch 0622a (see Fig.a); and in a general sense the present drawing also echoes that work in style. As the Rembrandt is datable to the 1650s, we may deduce that the drawing also belongs to this period or later; but as Fabritius died in 1654, if the drawing is indeed by him, the range is narrowed to c.1650-54. A second derivation from Rembrandt is the figure of Moses, who is based on the similarly posed figure of a man genuflecting near the centre of the etching, the Triumph of Mordechai of c.1641 (see Fig.b). Another possible, if slighter connection with Rembrandt may be adduced: the tree-trunk at the lower left, which was perhaps loosely inspired by the tree in Rembrandt’s etching, The Omval, of 1645 (see the detail Fig.c; Bartsch 209; NH 221).

Why this uncommon subject was chosen is mysterious. A rare painting of it by Claes Moeyaert of 1639, in the Hermitage, has little in common with the present drawing.[3] Much closer, however, is an early and uncharacteristic painting, thought to date from c.1640, by his pupil, Jan Baptist Weenix (1621 - c.1659; Fig.d).[4], which the drawing, significantly, resembles closely in the figure of the angel, albeit without the right arm being raised back over the head. Lesser echoes of the painting may occur in the billowing smoke and the placement of the circumcision as well as the landscape towards the right of the composition, but these are less immediately dependent. No connection between Weenix or Rembrandt or one of the latter’s pupils has previously surfaced, but it does appear that the artist responsible for the present drawing knew the painting (or another like it).[5] Is it possible that the subject had been treated by Rembrandt himself or another influential artist, such as Pieter Lastman?

Condition: Generally good; some very minor losses and spotting at or towards upper right corner.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1650-54?

COLLECTION: GB London, The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery (Princes Gate Collection; inv. D.1978.PG.409).*

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Valentiner, I, 1925, no.437, repr.; Paris, 1933, p.16, under no.1144; Benesch, 1935, p.35; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.505, repr. (c.1640-42; subject the Angels and Balaam; compares Benesch 0488, Benesch 0496, Benesch 0500 and Benesch 0503-4); Sumowski, 1961, p.10; Rotermund, 1963, pp.90-91 and no.75, repr.; Nieuwstraten, 1965, p.63 (identifies subject, comparing painting in St Petersburg by Moeyaert [see n.2 below]); Chudzikowski, 1966, p.6, repr. p.4, fig.3 (inspired painting by Weenix [here fig.d]); London, 1971, no.409, repr. pl.xviii; Exh. London, 1983, no.17;  [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Leo Blumenreich (Berlin) [according to Alfred Brod catalogue]; Franz Koenigs, Haarlem (1881-1941), probably acquired after 1931 [when he sold off his first collection]; by descent to his son, W. Koenigs (1926-2009); his sale, London, Sotheby's, 23 March, 1960, lot 10; Alfred Brod Gallery (London; his catalogue, 1961, no.29) from which purchased by Count Antoine Seilern (14 November, 1961, £3,800), by whom bequeathed to the present repository, 1978.

*I am grateful to Dr Rachel Hapoienu for forwarding a factsheet on the drawing from the Courtauld Institute.

[1] The Dutch Statenbijbel runs: “En het geschiedde op den weg, in de herberg, dat de Heere hem tegenkwam, en zocht hem te doden. Toen nam Zippora een stenen mes en besneed de voorhuid haars zoons, en wierp die voor zijn voeten, en zeide: Voorwaar, gij zijt mij een bloedbruidegom! En Hij liet van hem af. Toen zeide zij: Bloedbruidegom! vanwege de besnijdenis”. The Hebrew is (according to the Leningrad Codex):

24. ויהי בדרך במלון ויפגשהו יהוה ויבקש המיתו׃

25. ותקח צפרה צר ותכרת את־ערלת בנה ותגע לרגליו ותאמר כי חתן־דמים אתה לי׃

26. :וירף ממנו אז אמרה חתן דמים למולת׃ פ

[2] The Courtauld's factsheet on the drawing records that my attribution to Fabritius was noted in their file on the drawing on a copy of the 1983 exhibition catalogue entry. This was probably at the time of a study visit to the Courtauld in February 1988, when I made notes that suggest the attribution; and that later Holm Bevers, in remarks of 2010 ("Workshop, mid-1640s, close to Carel Fabritius/Hoogstraten") also invoked his name and that W.W. Robinson agreed with his assessment. My copy of Benesch is marked with this attribution with the date 1 December, 1987.

[3] Inv. 3092; St Petersburg, 1981, II, p.151. It was through this version that Nieuwstraten, 1965, p.63, correctly identified the subject. The subject was depicted again in another painting in the same collection by Cornelis Holsteijn (1618-58; inv. 2983) which probably also dates from the mid-seventeenth century, as does a landscape etching with the subject relegated to a corner by Anthonie Waterloo (Bartsch and Hollstein 135). The only other version that might date from around the time of Benesch 0505 or before seems to be the fresco by Perugino in the Sistine Chapel.

[4] National Museum, Warsaw, inv. M.Ob.433 (131418); Chudzikowski, 1966, repr. p.5, fig.4.

[5] Previous writers have assumed that the drawing preceded the painting.

First posted 17 September 2020.


Benesch 0506

Subject:  The Messenger Brings Saul's Crown and Bracelet to David (2 Samuel, I, 1-10)

Medium: Pen (reed pen) and brown ink with grey and brown wash; three partly visible framing lines in brown ink. Inscribed on recto and verso by Esdaile in pen and brown ink, respectively: “WE” and “1835 WE” (see L.2617)

169 x 193. Watermark: none; chain lines: 25/27h.

COMMENTS: In style the drawing belongs in the “Carel Fabritius” group (see Benesch 0500) and was one of the first to be published under this suggested attribution.[1] Compare especially the kneeling messenger with the figures at the lower left of Benesch 0500. The broad striations in the canopy are also similar to Benesch 0496 (on the right) and - as with Benesch 0502 – to the underpaint of Carel Fabritius’ painting of the Raising of Lazarus, thought to date from c.1643 (see Fig.a).[2] Nevertheless, the breadth of the drawing and the bold use of the reed pen argue for a somewhat later date. The fluency and speed of execution is at times made manifest by the failure of the ink to settle on the page as the nib skimmed quickly across the surface, for example in the diagonal shading around the messenger and in David's right arm, but also in some of the other profiles and even in a few of the broadest lines (like the verticals above the messenger).

The episode depicted shows David - here represented in one of the most convincing individual characterisations to be found among the drawings in the "Carel Fabritius" group - receiving the news that Saul and his sons have been killed in battle, from a messenger who brings Saul’s crown and bracelet. After a period of weeping, David had the messenger executed, despite the fact that he himself had ordered Saul’s death. Although correctly identified by Buberl in 1906 (see Wickhof, 2006 in Literature below), the drawing was until long after this still erroneously thought to represent either The Presents of the Queen of Sheba Brought to Solomon (in the 1840 sale catalogue and perhaps earlier), or Mordechai before Ahasuerus (by Valentiner, 1925), or David Dismissing Uriah (by I. Linnik, as recorded by Kahr, 1965, n.22).

Condition: Generally good; some foxmarks in the background, centre left.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1645-50?

COLLECTION: NL Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum (Cornelis Hofstede de Groot Gift; L.2228; inv. RP-T-1930-15).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Exh. London, 1878-79, no.468; Lippmann, II, 100; Exh. The Hague, 1902, no.57; Exh. Leiden, 1903, no.24; Exh. Leiden, 1906, no.22; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.100 (Mordechai before Ahasuerus); Wickhof, 1906, p.13, no.8 (subject identified By P. Buberl as the Messenger Brings Saul's Crown and Bracelet to David); Exh. Paris, 1908, no.327; Saxl, 1908, p.342 (c.1655); Hofstede de Groot, 1909, no.20; Amsterdam, 1911, p.8; Exh. Amsterdam, 1913, no.16; Exh. Leiden, 1916, no.92 (c.1663); Hirschmann, 1917, p.20; Seidlitz, 1917, p.252 (Rembrandt?); Bredt, II, 1921, repr. p.100; Benesch, 1922.I, p.35 (not Rembrandt); Valentiner, I, 1925, no.199, repr. (c.1648; ); Bredt, II, 1927, p.100; Van Dyke, 1927, p.89 (by Horst); Exh. The Hague, 1930, no.14 (c.1663); Hell, 1930, p.98 (1640s); Benesch, 1935, p.35 (c.1640-41); Amsterdam, 1942, no.57 (c.1647); Rembrandt Bible, 1947, no.30, repr.; Exh. Rome-Florence, 1951, no.78 (c.1645); Rembrandt Bijble (Bibeln), 1954, no.68, repr.; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.506, repr. (c.1640-42; groups with Benesch 0500, Benesch 0502 and especially Benesch 0507); Exh. Amsterdam-Rotterdam, 1956, no.123 and p.20 (c.1645); Exh. Brussels-Hamburg, 1961, no.53; Rembrandt Bijbel, 1962, repr. p.257; Rotermund, 1963, no.106, repr. p.142; Exh. Amsterdam, 1964-65, no.72; Sumowski, Drawings, I, 1979, under nos. 218x and 219x; Amsterdam, 1985, no.61, repr. (suggests attribution to C. Fabritius; compares the Adoration of the Shepherds and the Liberation of St Peter in the Rijksmuseum. Inv. RP-T-A-217 and RP-T-1930-31, Amsterdam, 1985, nos.62-63); Schatborn, 2006, pp.130-31, and 135-47, repr. fig.1 (as Amsterdam, 1985; also compares underpaint in Fabritius’ paintings and figure in centre background with Benesch 0497); Exh. Los Angeles, 2009-10, no.21.2 (C. Fabritius); Exh. Amsterdam, 2014, no. 15, repr. (C. Fabritius); Berlin, 2018, p.137, under no.70, repr. (c.1645-48; as comparison with Benesch 0502a); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Jonathan Richardson, sen. (L.2184 – poorly stamped, see Fig.b); Thomas Lawrence (L. 2445); Samuel Woodburn (dealer); in 1835 to William Esdaile (L. 2617; see under Benesch 0286); his sale, London, Christie and Manson, 17 June, 1840, lot 46, as Rembrandt (“The Presents of the Queen of Sheba brought to Solomon”), bt Heath, 5s; Jefferey Whitehead (by 1879, according to London, 1879, p. 117, no. 468); Paul Mathey; P. & D. Colnaghi, London; acquired after 1900 by Cornelis Hofstede de Groot (according to his notes, RKD), by whom donated to the present repository in 1906, with usufruct until 1930.

[1] By Schatborn in Amsterdam, 1985 no.61 (see Literature).

[2] Warsaw, Muzeum Narodowe (Brown, 1981, no.1, repr.; Sumowski, Gemälde, II, 1983, no.601, repr.; Exh. The Hague-Schwerin, 2004-5, no.1, repr.).

First posted 20 September 2020.


Benesch 0507

Subject:  Isaac Blessing Jacob (Genesis, XXVII, 1-40)

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown wash.

245 x 205.  

COMMENTS: The style connects the drawing to the “Carel Fabritius” group, for which see under Benesch 0500. As well as similarities with the other versions of the subject, Benesch 0508-0510,[1] the style relates also to Benesch 0505, not least in the shading, both vertical and diagonal, and in the characteristic combination of almost painterly, broad lines and wash with some finer, more disciplined draughtsmanship.

To some degree the composition echoes that of a painting of the subject by Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, dated 1642.[2] See further under Benesch 0509.

Condition: Not seen.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1645-50?

COLLECTION: Private Collection (?; formerly Berlin, Van Diemen [dealer]).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Valentiner, II, 1934, no.,432, repr.; Benesch, 1935, p.35; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.507, repr. (c.1640-42; compares Benesch 0500 and Benesch 0502, and especially Benesch 0506 and Benesch 0508; the latter drawing and Benesch 0509 of the same subject); Amsterdam, 1981, under no.39); Amsterdam, 1985, under no.64, n.4 (C. Fabritius? Compares Rijksmuseum drawing of the same subject, inv. RP-T-1886-A-629 which described as a copy). [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: D Berlin, Van Diemen (dealer).

[1] Another version in the "Carel Fabritius" group is known through what is probably a copy in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (inv. RP-T-1886-A-629; described as a copy by Schatborn in Amsterdam, 1985, no.64, repr.).

[2] In the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv.25.110.16; see Sumowski, Gemälde, II, no. 397, repr.).

First posted 21 September 2020.


Benesch 0508

Subject:  Isaac Blessing Jacob (Genesis, XVII, 1-40)

Verso: Laid down on paper

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown wash and some white bodycolour.  

125 x 173. Watermark: none visible.

COMMENTS: The style places the drawing in the “Carel Fabritius” group (for which see Benesch 0500). As well as with the penwork, wash and liquid hatching in the three other drawings by this hand of the same subject (Benesch 0507 [qv] and Benesch 0509-10; less close is Benesch 1065), similarities in the broad handling are also clear in Benesch 0506, especially in the drapes. Benesch himself (1955/73) rightly compared Isaac’s left hand with Christ’s in Benesch 0518.

A copy is in Berlin.[1]

Condition: Generally good.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1645-50?

COLLECTION: NL Groningen, Groninger Museum (inv. 1931-195).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Valentiner, I, 1925, no.62; Kauffmann, 1926, p.175, note; Exh. The Hague, 1930, I, no.96; Exh. Groningen, 1931, no.96; Benesch, 1935, p.35; Oxford, 1938, p.74; Rembrandt Drawings for the Bible, 1947, no.9, repr.; Exh. Groningen, 1948, no.102; Exh. Groningen, 1952, no.67; Exh. Groningen, 1952.I, p.3; Exh. The Hague, 1955, p.12; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.508, repr. fig.632/668 (c.1640-42; compares Benesch 0507 and for the left hand of Isaac, the Christ in Benesch 0518); Exh. The Hague, 1955, no.36; Rotermund, 1963, p.17, repr.; Groningen, 1967, no.59, repr. p.185; Exh. Padua-Florence-Venice, 1968, no.234, repr. fig.19; Exh. Groningen, 1978; Amsterdam, 1985, under no.64, n.4 (Carel Fabritius group); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: J. Barnard (?); Joshua Reynolds (?); Thomas Lawrence (?); William Esdaile; his sale, London, Christie’s, 18 May, 1840, lot 47 (?);[2] Samuel Woodburn (dealer); his sale, London, Christie’s, 4 June, 1860, lot 778; P. & D. Colnaghi & Co.; sale, London, 20 July, 1914, lot 44; Hilgrove Cox; his sale, London, 8 March 1922, lot 62; Hollandsche Kunsthandel, Amsterdam, 1923 (dealer); C. Hofstede de Groot (inv. 788) by whom bequeathed to the present repository, 1930.

[1] Inv. 8513; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.24; Berlin, 1930, I, p.245, inv.8513.

[2] According to Groningen, 1967, no.59. Barnard’s mark, L.1419, Reynolds’, L.2364, and Esdaile’s, L.2617, were not recorded by Benesch, 1955/73 (see Literature). For Lawrence and Esdaile, see under Benesch 0286.

First posted 26 September 2020.


Benesch 0509

Subject:  Isaac Blessing Jacob (Genesis, XVII, 1-40)

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown and some grey wash.

186 x 249.

COMMENTS: This is perhaps the most satisfactory composition among the drawings (Benesch 0507 [qv], Benesch 0508 and Benesch 0510; less close is Benesch 1065) of the same subject that belong in the “Carel Fabritius” group (for which see Benesch 0500). The description of Isaac is here realised in fuller detail and is comparable in this respect to the Hagar in Benesch 0504. The versions in the group are all related in style and the broad handling of the drapes in the present example resembles that in Benesch 0506.

Rembrandt and his pupils depicted the subject frequently and versions, for example, by Flinck, Van den Eeckhout, Horst, Maes and Abraham Van Dijck are known. The subject had been popular since the Renaissance. See also Benesch 0891-92 and Benesch 0984. A woodcut by Holbein published in 1525-26 in his “Icones” may have acted as an inspiration (see Fig.a).[1]

Condition: Uncertain (not seen).

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1645-50?

COLLECTION: Formerly Vienna, Oskar Bondi (according to Benesch, 1955/73).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Parker, 1931, repr.; pl.55; Benesch, 1935, p.35; Benesch, 1947, no.118, repr.; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.509, repr. (c.1640-42; compares Benesch 0508; 1656 Kassel painting [on which see Comments above] reflects the drawing; also compares Benesch 0507 and for style, Benesch 0660 and Benesch  0732; the several drawings suggest Rembrandt already planned a painting of the subject in the early 1640s); Benesch, 1960, no.38, repr.; Konstam, 1977, pp.94 and 97 (suggests Rembrandt used mirror images in the different versions); Amsterdam, 1985, under no.64, n.4 (C. Fabritius group; compares Amsterdam version, RP-T-1886-A-629 [on which see Comments above]); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Thomas Lawrence; William Esdaile; Warwick Castle (L.2600) from which sold, London, Sotheby’s, 17 June, 1936, lot 133 (all provenance details from Benesch, 3, 1955/73).[2]

[1] See Hollstein, XIVa, p.207, no.100.6.

[2] For the acquisition of the Lawrence drawings by Esdaile, see under Benesch 0286. Photographs do not reveal the collector’s marks of the owners named by Benesch.

First posted 27 September 2020.

Benesch 0510

Subject:  Isaac Blessing Jacob (Genesis, XVII, 1-40)

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown and grey wash; ruled framing lines in open and dark brown ink. Inscribed verso: "2636" and, lower right: "120"

110 x 171.  

COMMENTS: For the attribution to the “Carel Fabritius” group, see the note to Benesch 0500. Benesch 0507-9 are stylistically related drawings of the same subject (see under Benesch 0508), but the handling here is somewhat less crisp and in this there are links with Benesch 0501-2.

A copy of the drawing is in Basel.[1]

Condition: Good.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1645-50?

COLLECTION: F Angers, Museé Turpin de Crissé (inv.MTC 4981).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Recouvreur, p.244, no.232; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.510, repr. fig.633/670 (c.1640-42; relates to Benesch 0507 and for style to Benesch 0508); Rosenberg, 1959, p.112 (perhaps a copy or pupil’s work); Morant, 1962, repr. fig.15; Sumowski, 1961; Exh. Paris, 1970, no.13; Exh. London-Liverpool-Dublin-Birmingham, 1977-78, no.85, repr. pl.96 (as Benesch); Amsterdam, 1985, under no.64, n.4 (C. Fabritius group); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Sir John St Aubyn, Bt (L.1534); his sale, London, April, 1940, perhaps lot 1050; Jean Gigoux; Etienne-Marie Saint-Genys, by whom bequeathed to the present repository, 1915.

[1] Formerly in the Robert von Hirsch collection (Exh. Frankfurt, 1924, repr.; noted by Benesch, 1935, p.35 before the original became known).

First posted 24 September 2020.


Benesch 0510

Subject:  Isaac Blessing Jacob (Genesis, XVII, 1-40)

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown and grey wash; ruled framing lines in open and dark brown ink. Inscribed verso: "2636" and, lower right: "120"

110 x 171.  

COMMENTS: For the attribution to the “Carel Fabritius” group, see the note to Benesch 0500. Benesch 0507-9 are stylistically related drawings of the same subject (see under Benesch 0508), but the handling here is somewhat less crisp and in this there are links with Benesch 0501-2.

A copy of the drawing is in Basel.[1]

Condition: Good.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1645-50?

COLLECTION: F Angers, Museé Turpin de Crissé (inv.MTC 4981).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Recouvreur, p.244, no.232; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.510, repr. fig.633/670 (c.1640-42; relates to Benesch 0507 and for style to Benesch 0508); Rosenberg, 1959, p.112 (perhaps a copy or pupil’s work); Morant, 1962, repr. fig.15; Sumowski, 1961; Exh. Paris, 1970, no.13; Exh. London-Liverpool-Dublin-Birmingham, 1977-78, no.85, repr. pl.96 (as Benesch); Amsterdam, 1985, under no.64, n.4 (C. Fabritius group); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Sir John St Aubyn, Bt (L.1534); his sale, London, April, 1940, perhaps lot 1050; Jean Gigoux; Etienne-Marie Saint-Genys, by whom bequeathed to the present repository, 1915.

[1] Formerly in the Robert von Hirsch collection (Exh. Frankfurt, 1924, repr.; the copy noted by Benesch, 1935, p.35 before the original became known).

First posted 24 September 2020.


Benesch 0511

Subject:  Study for a Presentation in the Temple (Luke, II, 22-40)

Verso: Laid down (see Inscriptions)

Medium: Pen and brown ink with warmer, paler brown ink in the shadows below (presumably a later addition),[1] on two joined pieces of paper. Inscribed on the backing paper: “Ryn / Guillaume Van / dit Rembrandt, né aux environs / de Leyde en 1606, mort en 1664 ou 1674 / Elève de P. Lastman / of h = O,162 = O, 142 / Collection Paul-Emile Gasc) / Ch. Gasc” (cf. L.1068), and lower right in graphite: “Rembrand /”

164 x 142. Watermark: none visible.

COMMENTS: Like Benesch 0486 (qv), the drawing has been connected with Rembrandt’s etching of the same subject of c.1639 (Fig.a; Bartsch 49; NH 184). But the relationship is a loose one, apart from the dependence in the larger Virgin on the left on one of the figures behind Simeon in the print, and the style suggests the period around a decade later. An alternative theory, that the drawing is by Gerbrand van den Eeckhout and a study for his painting of the subject formerly in Berlin (Fig.b; Sumowski, Gemälde, II, 1983, no.435, repr.) seems little nearer the mark, not least because the style of Benesch 0511 departs significantly from anything securely by him.[2]

Whether it is a coincidence that the sheet of Benesch 0486 is torn in a similar way is unascertainable. To judge from the ink blotches immediately in front of the Virgin’s skirt where the two sheets meet, it was a mistake on the right that was replaced. Based on the style and the rather static poses, delineated with spare lines and deliberate hatching, the drawing looks to be from around 1650 or later – one might even compare Rembrandt’s drawing, Benesch 1169a, of the mid-1650s); and although the draughtsman seems to have known Benesch 0486, the quality suggests a less than distinguished pupil.[3]

Condition: Foxed, especially in the upper half of the sheet; otherwise good; made up of two pieces of paper.  

Summary attribution: Anonymous Rembrandt School.

Date:  c.1650-55?

COLLECTION: NL Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beunungen (inv. R 46).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Valentiner, I, 1925, no.311, repr. (Rembrandt or Van den Eeckhout?); Benesch, 1935, p.36; Amsterdam, 1942, p.50, under no.100; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.511, repr. fig.665/672 (c.1640-42; compares style of Benesch 0512; with Benesch 0486 “more or less connected with the etching”); Pigler, 1956, I, p.247; Pont, 1958, pp.71-72, n.1; Sumowski, 1959, p.289; Sumowski, 1961, p.10; Sumowski, 1962, pp.32 and 39, repr. fig.48 (Van den Eeckhout for painting formerly in Berlin); Haak, 1968, p.167, repr. fig.261; Rotterdam, 1969, p.79, repr. fig.199; Sumowski, Drawings, I, 1979, under no.204x (as Sumowski, 1962); Sumowski, Drawings, III, 1980, no.811xx, repr. (as Sumowski, 1962); Amsterdam, 1981 under no.8, repr. fig.a (Rembrandt or pupil; relates to Benesch 0486, also torn, of the same subject; ); Rotterdam, 1988, no.65 (as Sumowski, 1980; connection with painting not watertight; Rembrandt’s etching [on which see comments above] probably the model); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: A.P.E. Gasc (L.1131); Charles Gasc (L.543 and L.1068); N. Beets (dealer; according to Valnetiner, 1925, no.311); F. Koenigs (L.1023a); presented by D.G. van Beuningen to the Stichting Museum Boijmans, 1940.

[1] As suggested by Benesch, 1955/73, no.511.

[2] The drawing of the subject in Edinburgh (repr. under Benesch 0485, fig.e) is also not close and its attribution to Van den Eeckhout similarly uncertain.

[3] Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.511, compared Benesch 0512, which we place in the “Carel Fabritius” group, but the analogies with that drawing – and others in the group – do not seem to be sufficiently convincing.

First posted 4 October 2020.


Benesch 0511a

Subject:  The Incredulity of St Thomas (John, XX, 24-29)

Medium: Pen (reed pen?) and brown ink on two pieces of paper pasted together vertically left of centre.

184 x 275.

COMMENTS: This ambitious drawing, regarded by Benesch as “magnificent”, belongs in style with the “Carel Fabritius” group (on which see under Benesch 0500). Compare the figure of Christ with St Philip in Benesch 0488, in which the wash at the lower left is also similar, and with Benesch 0512 as well as Benesch 0514-15.

Benesch 0869 (Fig.a) is a variant, probably based on the version formerly in the Hingst collection, The Hague (Fig.b).[1]. Christ and St Thomas are posed similarly (though with Christ’s right arm placed somewhat higher) and the design includes comparable groups of figures to either side. These versions, both drawn using a reed pen, may have been made by other members of Rembrandt’s workshop at the same time as Benesch 0511a and the medium suggests a date in or after c.1650.[2] Compare also Benesch 1010 and Benesch C94. Perhaps later are Rembrandt’s etching of 1656 (Fig.c, where illustrated in reverse; Bartsch 89; NH 296), despite some analogies in the design, as well as the drawing by Aert de Gelder (Louvre; RF 38384).[3] If contemporaneous with the etching, then the attribution of Benesch 0511a and the remainder of the group to Carel Fabritius, who died in 1654, should probably be discounted.

Rembrandt first depicted the subject in his painting of 1634, now in Moscow (Bredius 552; Wetering 127).

Condition: Uncertain (not seen).

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1650?

COLLECTION: F Paris, art market (1990).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.511a, repr. fig.637/673 (c.1640-42; accepted as “magnificent” Rembrandt enthusiastically; compared with Rembrandt’s c.1639  etching of the Presentation in the Temple, Bartsch 49; NH 184, and with Benesch 0511, Benesch 0512, Benesch 0512a and Benesch 0512-14, these last three also for the pose of Christ; the right section replaced after the first draught divided; division of the sheet also seen in Benesch 046, Benesch 0495 and Benesch 0511); Exh. Rotterdam-Amsterdam, 1956, no.112 (Rembrandt); Benesch, 1960, no.42, repr.; Amsterdam, 1985, under no.86, repr. fig.86b (Rembrandt; discussing Rijksmuseum and formerly Hingst collection versions [on which see Commentary above]); Exh. Paris-Philadelphia-Detroit, 2011, repr. fig. 1.5; [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: François Heim; Georges Renand; his sale, Paris, Millon (Drouot), 31 May, 1988, lot 13, repr. and 11 June, 1990, lot 85, repr. (noting that Schatborn was not convinced the drawing by Rembrandt [see Amsterdam, 1985 under Literature above]).

[1] Discussed and repr. Amsterdam, 1985, p.183, under no.86, fig.86a (with further Literature in n.2).

[2] In loc. cit, Schatborn suggests both drawings were made by Samuel van Hoogstraten.

[3] Exh. Dordrecht , 1998-99, no.61, repr.; Exh. Los Angeles, 2009-10, under no.40, repr. p.235, fig.40a.

First posted 7 October 2020.


Benesch 0512

Subject:  Joseph Reveals Himself to his Brothers (Genesis, XLV, 1-5)

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown (and also darker brown) wash and some white bodycolour. Inscribed, lower right, in pen and brown ink: “Rembrandt Van Ry[n]”

210 x 323.

COMMENTS: That the drawing belongs with the “Carel Fabritius” group (for which see Benesch 0500) is suggested by the comparisons made by Benesch (1955/73), despite his belief that these drawings were all by Rembrandt: Benesch 0500, Benesch 0510 and Benesch 0513-14. For the figures, compare also Benesch 0612. The design is among the more ambitious within the Fabritius group, yet the handling of the chiaroscuro seems less controlled than in Benesch 0500, which could imply that the present drawing is somewhat later.

The story of Joseph preoccupied Rembrandt and his followers considerably. Here, the youth seated on the step, has been plausibly identified as Benjamin.[1] He may reflect knowledge of the pensive individual seated to the left of centre in the Hundred Guilder Print of c.1648 (Bartsch 74; NH 239).

Condition: Good.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1650-54?

COLLECTION: F Paris, Musée du Louvre (Collection E. de Rothschild, inv. 190 DR [formerly 1150 bis]; Louvre inventory, vol. 1, p. 6).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Heseltine Drawings, 1907, no.68; Exh. Paris, 1908, no.305; Exh. Paris, 1937, no.81; Paris, 1939, no.1; Exh. Paris, 1947, no.142, repr.; Exh. Paris, 1954; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.512, repr. (c.1640-42; relates to Benesch 0500, as also Benesch 0510 and Benesch 0513-14); Sumowski, 1961, p.10 (Bol); Rotermund, 1963, no.67, repr.; Exh. Paris, 1970, no.196, repr.; Albach, 1972, pp.120-21, repr.; Albach, 1979, p.26, fig.26; Sumowski, III, 1980, under no.811xx (Rembrandt); Exh. Paris, 1988-89, no.76, repr. (circle of Rembrandt; close to Bol; compares Sarah Presenting Hagar to Abraham, Benesch A51 also in Louvre [inv.22996, which included as Bol in same catalogue, no.87]; chair resembles that in Benesch 0528); Royalton-Kisch, 1990, p.133 (Bol?, comparing Amnon and Tamar, Benesch A52 [Louvre  inv.22935, included as Bol in Exh. Paris, 1988-89, no.88]); Exh. London, 1992, under no.91 and n.3 (school of Rembrandt; associated with drawings tentatively ascribed to Fabritius); Exh. Paris, 2007, no.145, repr.; Lugt online, 2016, under L.1507 [accessed 8 October 2020] (one of a group of drawings acquired at the Heseltine sale by E. de Rothschild and now in the Louvre); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]  

PROVENANCE: Lucien [?] Guiraud (dealer); J.P. Heseltine (L.1507); his sale, Amsterdam, Muller, 27-28 May, 1913, bt Strölin and Danlos for Baron Edmond de Rothschild, by whom bequeathed to the present repository, 1935.

First posted 10 October 2020.


Benesch 0512a

Subject:  The Captive Christ Being Led to Caiaphas (John, XVII, 12–14)

Verso: Laid down on cream paper

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown wash and some white heightening on pale brown paper. Inscribed below Christ’s feet, but subsequently washed over: “Rembrandt” [?] (see the black and white detail) and verso (visible in transmitted light) upper right, in pen and ink: “[illegible] / [6601?]” and on verso of the backing sheet, upper left, in graphite: “HJH” [first two letters crossed out] and upper centre, also in graphite: “Rembrandt”

182 x 234.  

COMMENTS: The bound Christ being led into an interior is an unusual iconography and the drawing has rightly been assumed to show him immediately before his trial by the Sanhedrin, presided over by the High Priest, Caiaphas, as related in all four gospels. The trial itself was commonly represented in European art.

The composition, though less elaborate, has been related to the Night Watch of 1642 (Bredius 410; Wetering 190), of which there are many echoes: the two central figures in highly contrasted tonalities (reversed in the painting), the attendant captors with pikes and spears and the short, helmeted figure, here to the right. The character of the face in profile between Christ and the darker, armour-clad guard holding him resembles the old woman in Benesch 0677-78. But given the overall looseness of style, the drawing has attracted negative commentary and has been simplistically dismissed as a later pupil’s derivation. As so often with feely drawn compositions, Ferdinand Bol is the name most likely to be invoked; but as is also argued under Benesch 0475, with several illustrations (there Figs.b-d), Bol’s fluid technique does not compare closely with the varied touch of Benesch 0512a, where we find a combination of broadly applied, thick lines alongside delicately shaded passages that seems closer to Rembrandt than Bol.

Various comparisons further undermine the “Bol” theory: the second soldier from the left, almost obscured between his moustachioed companion and Christ’s back, resembles a figure in the documentary drawing by Rembrandt – for the Hundred Guild Print of c.1648, Benesch 0188 (see Fig.a) – closely enough to trigger a fresh enquiry. It also suggests that the drawing, usually dated to the early 1640s, could be later than previously thought, an idea that is reinforced by a second comparison, with Benesch 1172: not only does the general liquidity, the delineation of the architecture and the application of the wash exhibit similarities, but also such details as the hands of Christ and those of the man at the table (see the detail Fig.b). In addition, the liquid handling of the Hamburg study for the etching of St Jerome in an Italian Landscape of c.1653, Benesch 0886, replicates many of the loosely touched qualities of the Cleveland drawing (see Fig.c): compare the details of the Saint's legs with those of Christ, as also the free pen-lines and the broad use of wash. Further encouragement is given by Benesch 0485 (which is here re-assigned to Rembrandt), in which the liquid outlining, for example in the figures carrying Christ’s legs and torso, is frequently analogous to the short-statured soldier to the right of Benesch 0512a.

Overall, it appears preferable to attribute the drawing to Rembrandt, albeit with a question mark. As the documentary drawings relate, the varied styles he could practise from around the mid-1640s until the mid-1650s, from the restraint and feather-light touch of the Homer (Benesch 0913) to the breadth of the portraits of Sylvius (Benesch 0763) and Jan Six (Benesch 0767), as well as the St Jerome (here Fig.c) and the Child Being Taught to Walk (Benesch 1169), will remain difficult to pin down and, therefore, sometimes controversial. But the lack of comparisons with studio works, combined with the inventiveness of the iconography, as well as the effortlessly crafted balance and coherence of the overall composition – reminiscent of the poise of Raphael’s designs for the Vatical Loggia – render it hard to assign the drawing to a pupil rather than Rembrandt without considerable reserve.[2]

Condition: Good; a minor repair near lower left edge.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt?

Date:  c.1652?

COLLECTION: USA Cleveland, Cleveland Museum of Art (J.C. Hanna Fund purchase; inv. 1960.187).[1]

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.512a, repr. fig. 636/675 (c.1641-42; compares Benesch 0493, Benesch 0495, Benesch 0512, Benesch 0661 and Benesch 0733; compositional affinities with The Night Watch); Cleveland Museum of Art. Handbook, 1966 and 1969, repr. p.123 and 1978, repr. p.158; Exh. Cleveland, 1960-61; Richards, 1961, pp.3-4, repr. on the cover (c.1641-42; compares with Night Watch, Triumph of Mordechai etching and the Christ to Lucas van Leyden’s engraving from the Round Passion: Christ Before the High Priest, 1509, Bartsch 59; relates figure holding Christ to his counterpart in Benesch 0645, where brought round to the front and seen from behind); Exh. Cleveland, 1963; Exh. Cleveland, 1965; Exh. Cleveland, 1965.I; Exh. Cleveland, 1968; Exh. Cleveland, 1973; Exh. Cleveland, 1982; Exh. Cleveland, 1983; Miller, 1987, pp.125-28, repr. opp. p.127; Exh. Cleveland, 1989; Exh. Cleveland, 2012; [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Rev. Thomas Carwardine (according to 1952 Probert sale catalogue); Col. Oliver Probert; his sale, London, Christie's, 16 May, 1952, lot 43, repr. (800 guineas; advertised Burlington Magazine, 94, May, 1956, p.iii, repr.); Ruzicka Foundation, Zurich (according to Benesch); Marianne Feilchenfeldt, Zurich (dealer) from whom acquired by the present repository, 1960.

[1] Much of the exhibition history is taken from the Museum’s website: (accessed 12 October 2020).

[2] The apparent influence of Raphael’s Vatican Loggia frescoes is also mentioned under Benesch 0475.

First posted 15 October 2020.


Benesch 0513

Subject:  Christ Awakening The Disciples on the Mount of Olives (Matthew, XXVI, 45-46; Mark, XIV, 41-42; Luke, XXII, 45-46)

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown wash, with white bodycolour. Inscribed upper right: “115 / Ryn”

168 x 208.

COMMENTS: A characteristic example of a drawing belonging to the “Carel Fabritius” group (for which see under Benesch 0500, where it is pointed out that many of the drawings in the group depict incidents in the story of Christ’s Passion). Benesch (1955/73) described the similarities to other drawings in the group as “not only in the brittle structure of the figures but also in the application of rich washes”, although he retained the attribution to Rembrandt. For the figures, compare Benesch 0514-15, and for the wash Benesch 0500 and Benesch 0512. The trees on the right resemble Benesch 0498, while those on the left are close to one on the right of Benesch 0523. The nearest figure, the awakening St Peter, seems to adumbrate the Jonah in Benesch 0950.

Condition: Good.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date: c.1650?

COLLECTION: CH Bern, private collection?

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.1504; Hofstede de Groot, 1910, no.24, repr.; Valentiner, II, 1934, no.447, repr.; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.512, repr. (c.1641-42; relates to Benesch 0512); Sumowski, Drawings, I, 1979, under no.245x (Rembrandt); Exh. Paris-Philadelphia-Detroit, 2011, no.21, repr.; [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Dirk Vis Blokhuyzen (1799-1869); A. Straeter; his sale, Stuttgart, Gutekunst, 10-14  May, 1898, lot 1175, repr.; Prince of Liechtenstein; his sale, Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett, 18th auction, 1953. no.854; Dr Bernhard Sprengel; Eberhard Kornfeld (Bern).

First posted 18 October 2020.


Benesch 0514

Subject:  The Temptation of Christ (Matthew, IV, 1–11; Mark, I, 12–13; Luke, IV, 1–13)

Medium: Pen and brown ink; the paper extended below with a 10mm strip with later work in pen and brown ink. Inscribed on the added strip, lower right: ”5031” and lower left in blue: “96”

185 x 220.

COMMENTS: The drawing belongs in style with the “Carel Fabritius” group, for which see Benesch 0500a. For the figures, compare, for example, Joseph in Benesch 0512 and the protagonists in Benesch 0545. The broad but fine-pointed penmanship of the landscape on the left resembles Benesch 0497 and the use of a thicker nib on the right, Benesch 0496. The artist treated the same subject in Benesch 0515 in a more delicate and possibly earlier manner.

Condition: Generally good, though with some spotting and stains, especially upper left edge; a later added strip below.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1650?

COLLECTION: D Munich, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung (L.620; inv.1418).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.382; Valentiner, 2, 1934, no.353, repr.; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.514, repr. (c.1640-42; compares Benesch 0512-13); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

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

First posted 19 October 2020.


Benesch 0515

Subject:  The Temptation of Christ (Matthew, IV, 1–11; Mark, I, 12–13; Luke, IV, 1–13)

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown wash; ruled framing lines in pen and brown ink (on the lower three sides unusual in being slightly within the edge of the sheet).

170 x 200.  

COMMENTS: Belongs with the “Carel Fabritius” group (for which see Benesch 0500). The same subject was treated in Benesch 0514. Here the handling is more refined, using a thinner nib, and in this respect the drawing is closer to Benesch 0488, perhaps especially in the landscape to the right. For the figures, cf. also Benesch 0545. Benesch himself, though retaining the attribution to Rembrandt,  rightly compared the landscape with Benesch 0498, in which the breadth of handling in the main tree is especially close.

Condition: Uncertain (not seen).

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1645-50?

COLLECTION: D Dortmund, Private Collection? (formerly H. Becker).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Valentiner, 2, 1934, no.440, repr.; Benesch, 1935, p.35; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.515, repr. (c.1640-42; compares the figures in Benesch 0514 and the landscape with Benesch 0498); Exh. Raleigh, 1959, no.80; Sumowski, Drawings, 1, 1979, under nos 206x, 212x and 260x (Rembrandt; early 1640s); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: Frits Lugt; W.R. Valentiner (his sale, Amsterdam, Mensing, 25 October, 1932, no.VI); his estate sale, London, Sotheby’s, 25 November, 1971, lot 13, H. Becker.

First posted 19 October 2020.


Benesch 0516

Subject:  The Holy Family in the Carpenter's Workshop

Verso: Laid down on a card with gold edges, perhaps a remnant of a larger, eighteenth-century mat

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown wash, touched with white; some grey may have been mixed with parts of the brown wash.

184 x 246. Watermark: none visible; chain lines: 23h.

COMMENTS: The drawing is unusual in depicting the Holy Family including Anna and another figure (St Elizabeth?) knocking at the window.[1] Rembrandt seems to have been concerned to represent the figures informally in a domestic setting so that the scene might almost pass as taken from everyday life, unconnected with biblical story. The box-like object hanging to the left of the window is probably a bird cage. Some of the same elements reappear in other works associated with Rembrandt's name, as for example in the paintings of the 'Holy Family' in the Rijksmuseum and the Louvre (Bredius 0568 and 0563 respectively, the latter Wetering 173),[2] as well as in Benesch 0620A. The sheet is also somewhat unusual among Rembrandt's biblical drawings for its pictorial completeness, which suggests that it was intended as an independent work in its own right.

The date of the drawing is difficult to establish. Stylistic comparisons with undisputed drawings by the artist include analogies with the Star of the Kings of c.1645-47 (Benesch 0736). Though lacking the hatching seen in that sheet, the present drawing nevertheless reveals clear similarities in the central group of figures, drawn boldly in pen lines that meander around the forms with few interruptions. The figure of Joseph, in a slightly more rectilinear style, resembles (though more distantly) the pen-and-ink sketch of Jan Six of c.1647 (Benesch 767). Yet the highly atmospheric handling of the light, dissipating subtly as it recedes from the window, with further pockets of illumination ricocheting around the room, seems also to conform with Rembrandt's style in the 1650s, as seen in the Painter's Studio with a Model of c.1655 in the Ashmolean Museum (see Figs a-b; Benesch 1161). Here, the treatment of details is also comparable, from the chairs and other furnishings on the right to the feet of Joseph’s table and those of the easel in the later drawing. There are few fixed points in establishing the chronology of Rembrandt's pen drawings in this period, and the date c.1647-52 – somewhat later than previous writers (including the present one) have proposed in the past (see Literature below), but it takes the comparison with Benesch 1161 into account. The St Petersburg painting of the Holy Family with Angels of 1645 (Bredius 570; Wetering 198), though different in format and iconography, also shows St Joseph at work in an interior but could have been made earlier. The composition of the slightly later painting of the 'Holy Family' in Kassel (Bredius 572; Wetering 209), which is dated 1646, also includes some comparable motifs to the present drawing. But here the artist has not only included St Elizabeth, but give a more specific action – a skilled one – to the carpenting Joseph as he handles a chisel to thin down the end of a wooden plank or pole.

A copy is in the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Mass., which is cut on the right, includes minor differences and a pentimento near Joseph's right leg (Fig.c).[3] The above-mentioned version in the Courtauld Institute of Art, Benesch 0620A, is executed in a style analogous to the present sheet, especially in the broader pen-lines in the background. Another variant, in the Louvre (Benesch 0517),[4] appears less convincingly to be by Rembrandt, as does the drawing in the Fitzwilliam Museum (Benesch 0569) while that in Bayonne is likely by Rembrandt (Benesch 0567). (These last two drawings have been related to the St Petersburg painting.) It has also been pointed out that a pupil borrowed the figure of the Virgin in a sketch in Chicago of the Satyr and the Peasant (inv.1927.5192; Benesch A31; Sumowski 854x as Barent Fabritius).[5] Another pupil or follower, possibly Ferdinand Bol, drew a Holy Family in an Interior (now in Darmstadt) in a similar technique and style, perhaps at the same period.[6]

Condition: Good; perhaps a little trimmed.

Summary attribution:

Date:  c.1650?

COLLECTION: GB London, British Museum (inv.1900,0824.144).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Kleinmann, IV, no.7; Exh. London, 1901, no.A115; Lippmann, IV, no.64; London, 1915, no.61 (c.1640-50; notes copy now in Fogg Art Museum [see Comments above]; compares “Adoration of Shepherds”, HdG 988, Valentiner 294, not in Benesch); Bredt, 1921/28, 2, repr. pp.13 and 15; Valentiner, 1, 1925, no.325a, repr. (c.1640); Weisbach, 1926, p.161, repr. fig.30 (finished work in its own right; complete interiors rare in Rembrandt's oeuvre); Van Dyke, 1927, p. 119 (by van der Pluym); Benesch, 1935, p.33 (c.1642; compares etching 'St Jerome in a dark Chamber', 1642, Bartsch 105; NH 212); Exh. London, 1938, no.61; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.516, repr. fig.643/677 (c.1640-42; compares Louvre version, Benesch 0517 and Louvre painting of 1640, Bredius 563; Wetering 173, as well as the etching of St Jerome in a dark Chamber, as in 1935; notes other version, Benesch 0620A); Exh. London, 1956, p.22, no.3; Drost, 1957, p.174 (compares Elsheimer); Benesch, 1960, p.24 and no.40, repr. (compares 'Faust' and 'Virgin and Child with the Cat and Snake' etchings, Bartsch 270 and 63; NH 270 and 278); London, 1961, p.29, under no.193 (follows Benesch, noting also Louvre and Kassel paintings of Holy Family, Bredius 570 and 572; Wetering 173 and 209); Sumowski, 1961, p.10 (influenced the St Joseph in “Holy Family” painting by B. Fabritius [see Sumowski, 1983 below); Scheidig, 1962, p.49, no.68, repr. (compares Louvre version, Benesch 517); Benesch, 1964, pp.129-30, reprinted 1970, p.259 (dates Benesch 0620A later, to c.1648-9, anticipating etching of 1654, 'Virgin and Child with the Cat and Snake', Bartsch 63, NH 278); Slive, 2, 1965, no. 511, repr. (c.1640-43); Bonnier, 1970/69, repr. in colour, fig.24; Bernhard, 1976, 2, repr. p.290; Sumowski, 1, 1979, p.404, under no.190x (influence on Bol); Amsterdam, 1981, p.51, n.3 (Joseph often represented by Rembrandt specifically as a carpenter); Sumowski, 4, 1981, p.1858, under no.854xx (see n.5 below); Hoekstra, 3 (deel 1), 1983, p.68, repr. (includes Anna; figure looks through window as in etched 'Virgin and Child with the Cat and Snake', Bartsch 63; NH 278); Sumowski, Gemälde, 2, 1983, p.918, under no.561 (as in 1961); Corpus, 3, 1989, p.565 (by Rembrandt or his workshop); Exh. London, 1992, no.43, repr. (c.1647); Giltaij, 1995, p.100 (definitely not by Rembrandt; perhaps by Flinck, comparing Benesch 0518b); Exh. Bremen, 2000-2001, p.82, under no.36, repr. fig.a (compares motif of Van Hoogstraten drawing of same subject in Bremen, inv.1882, Sumowski 1189x); Dibbits, 2006, p.115, repr. fig.12 (Rembrandt interested in Holy Family themes; relates to “school of Rembrandt” painting in Rijksmuseum, inv.SK-A-4119; Bredius 568); Schwartz, 2006, p.316, fig.566; Exh. Los Angeles, 2009-10, no.22.1 (c.1645); London, 2010 (online), no.39, repr. (c.1647); Schatborn, 2019, pp.19 and 25, and no.81, repr. (c.1645; served as a model for Hoogstraten).

PROVENANCE: Possibly Greffier François Fagel; his sale, London, T. Philipe, 23 May, 1799, lot 363, £2-15-0; and possibly sale, T. Philipe, London, 24 April 1801, lot 31 (although either or both of these references may refer to the copy at the Fogg Art Museum, first recorded in the Lawrence collection); Samuel Woodburn; his sale, Christie's, 13 June, 1860, lot 1405 as “Rembrandt, Van Rhyn - The Holy Family in a room, Joseph working as a carpenter - Fine effect of chiaro-scuro”, bt Tiffin for £3-15-0); bequeathed to the present repository by Henry Vaughan, 1900.

[1] See Réau, 2, 1957, pp.149-50, who traces the origins of representations of the wider Holy Family, nowhere united in the Gospels, to the Meditations of the pseudo-Bonaventura, Ch.XII.

[2] The Amsterdam painting was rejected by Gerson (Bredius-Gerson, 1969, no.568). The Louvre's was tentatively assigned to Ferdinand Bol (Corpus, 3, 1989, no.C87) but has been restored to Rembrandt (Wetering 173). The Amsterdam painting could be by the same hand.

[3] Inv.1910.7 (see Cambridge, Mass., 1940, no.531); pen and brown ink with brown and blue wash, 198 x 229. Repr. Valentiner, 1, 1925, no.325b.

[4] The latter was not included, and therefore rejected, by Starcky in Exh. Paris, Louvre, 1988-9. Another version, in Rotterdam, accepted by Benesch (his no.620) was rightly rejected by J. Giltaij in Rotterdam, 1988, no.146, with the plausible suggestion that it could be by Willem Drost.

[5] By Sumowski, 1981, tentatively identifying the pupil as B. Fabritius (see Literature above.).

[6] Repr. Valentiner, 1, 1925, p.XII; Sumowski 195x.

First posted 20 October 2020.


Benesch 0517

Subject:  Sketch of the Holy Family in an Interior

Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown and grey wash. Inscribed by Dezallier d'Argenville in pen and brown ink, lower centre: “Rembrant”. Verso inscribed by Saint-Morys: “Scène Familière / à la plume lavé / d'encre de la Chine”

156 x 215.

COMMENTS: Although related in subject to Benesch 0516 (qv), the spindly, timid pen-lines are uncharacteristic of Rembrandt’s initial lay-ins, such as Benesch 0482 verso, Benesch 0567 or even the fictive painting in Benesch A095 of 1644 (for which see under the ‘Not in Benesch’ tab) and seem closer to Benesch 0489, here tentatively assigned to Ferdinand Bol. The standing woman on the right, her arms and torso drawn almost as if they were parts of a doll that were glued together is also problematic for an attribution to Rembrandt.  The interaction between the women is also minimal, if compared with Benesch 0516. The wash, however, is more impressive in its capacity to conjure up the light filtering through the interior, reminding us not only of Rembrandt but also the high quality in this regard of certain drawings by Gerbrand van den Eeckhout.[1] The diagonal stroke from the top of the window seems especially effective. Yet the use of greyish as well as brown wash in uncharacteristic of both these artists, as is the sharp horizontal tide mark in the wash near the upper left, which reveals a very thinned or liquid application.

Overall, an attribution to Rembrandt seems highly problematic and one to Ferdinand Bol slightly less so: for the penwork, one might compare Benesch 0271, here tentatively ascribed to the latter, and for the wash the Saul and the Witch of Endor (Indianapolis, inv. 2002.164; repr. Exh. Amsterdam, 2017-18, fig.42) and the drawing of Minerva (Berlin, inv. KdZ 1102; Sumowski, Drawings, 1, 1979, no.166).[2] The composition is indebted to Benesch 0516 – including the detail of the kind of work St Joseph is undertaking – and the two drawings probably date from the same time, perhaps c.1650. But re-assigning the drawing to the Rembrandt school does not diminish the high quality and evocative capacities of this remarkable, if minor sketch.

Condition: Good; some dirt/discolouration at the edges.

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

Date: c. 1650?

COLLECTION: F Paris, Musée du Louvre (L.1886; inv.22990; formerly NIII28427; MA12634; Inventaire du Musée Napoléon, Dessins. Vol.9, p.1698, no.12634; inventaire manuscrit vol. 9, p. 407).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Reiset MS, c.1850 (school of Rembrandt); Paris, 1933, no.1128 (Rembrandt; 1630-32); Benesch, 1935, p.35; Benesch, 3, 1955/73, no.517, repr. (c.1640-42; compares Benesch 0516; relates both to Louvre painting, inv.1742; Bredius 563; Wetering 173); [Not included in Exh. Paris, 1988-89, therefore rejected]; Exh. London, 1992, under no.43 (not included, therefore rejected, in Exh. Paris, 1988-89; not certainly by Rembrandt); London, 2010 (online), under no.39 (as Exh. London, 1992); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: A.J. Dezallier d'Argenville (with his number, “2090” and paraphe, L.2951 and inscription below, “Rembrandt”; his sale, Paris, 18-28 January, 1779, part of lot 287 (as Rembrandt)  “...l'attelier de Saint Joseph, lavés de bistre”; Charles-Paul-Jean-Baptiste Bourgevin Vialart, Comte de Saint-Morys (with his inscription, verso); his collection seized by the French state in 1793 after the Revolution and transferred to the present repository in 1796-1797.

[1] Eg., the Study of a Youth in the Fondation Custodia (Lugt Collection), Paris (Paris, 2010, no.69, repr.) or the drawings attributed to him in the British Museum (inv.  Oo,9.100; see London, 2010 [online], Van den Eeckhout, no.20, repr.).

[2] One might also compare the diagonal light in Bol’s drawing of the Annunciation, now in Oslo (inv. NG.K&H.B. 15591; Sumowski 180x; repr. Exh. Los Angeles, 2009-10, no.8.2). This combines brown and grey wash, as do several other drawings by or attributed to him, including his studies for the Amsterdam Town Hall in Munich and Vienna (Sumowski 110-111 and 115; Exh. Amsterdam, 2017-18, figs. 172-74 [Munich inv.1748-49 and Vienna inv.9554]).

First posted 23 October 2020.


Benesch 0518

Subject:  The Raising of Lazarus (John, XI, 43-44)

Verso: A Woman, Three-Quarter Length

Medium: Pen (reed pen) and brown ink, corrected with white bodycolour; ruled framing lines in pen and brown ink and graphite (most visible at top edge); verso: black chalk. Inscribed verso, in graphite, upper left: “59” and below: “298”

183 x 158. Watermark: none.

COMMENTS: For style, Benesch correctly compared a number of drawings made at least partly with the reed pen: Benesch 0487, 0500 and 0501-0508, Benesch 0510 and Benesch 0531-34. These sketches, all belonging to the “Carel Fabritius” group (for which see Benesch 0500) provide the cue also to assign Benesch 0518 to the same draughtsman. The left hand of Christ has already been compared with Isaac’s in Benesch 0508 (qv), while the figures generally resemble those in Benesch 0498 and 0531; the thick, reed-pen lines below come close to the lower parts of Benesch 0496 and (again) Benesch 0498, while the widely-spaced, diagonal hatching above is also encountered in Benesch 0534. In the present case, there appears to be a stylistic link with Rembrandt’s drawings of the later 1640s, such as the signed Star of the Kings (Benesch 0736).

Disappointingly, a comparison with the composition of Carel Fabritius’s early painting of the subject in Warsaw of c.1642 (see Fig.a) yields no sound basis for the attribution of this or the other drawings in the “Carel Fabritius” group. Only the figure immediately to the right of Christ is similar (though smaller in scale), and the highly agitated figures in the oil, most of them on the left rather than the right as in the drawing, are closer to Rembrandt’s painted, drawn and etched versions of the subject of the early 1630s (for which see under Benesch 0017 and 0083a). In the drawing, the mood is calmer and the composition simplified, more in line with Rembrandt’s work c.1650 than with his earliest versions, or even his 1642 etching, to which the drawing has been compared in the past (by Benesch, 1955 and White, 1969 - see Literature below). A closer precursor is Jan Lievens’ painting of the early 1630s, now in Brighton, a design propagated by his own etching as well as the reproductive engravings after the oil by Jacob Louijs; but they reverse the composition of the painting. But one, anonymous and undescribed print (in the style of Pieter Soutman, who published Louijs’ engraving), is in the same direction as the painting and may have been a spur to the present drawing (Fig.b), although the draughtsman may also have known the painting, which was probably in Rembrandt’s own collection (Fig.c).[1] Despite this dependence, the result is not a slavish imitation but rearranges the protagonists into fresh groupings, poses and interrelationships, perhaps not always successfully.

The verso, however, looks to be by Rembrandt and from the period of his own early painting of c.1630-32 (Bredius 543; Wetering 48) and his etching of c.1632 (Bartsch 73; NH 113). In style, with its zigzag hatching and the revolving lines that suggest the forearms, it seems inseparable from Benesch 0083a (qv), a drawing sketched by Rembrandt on a proof of the etching itself (see also Fig.d). It may even have arisen as a trial idea by Rembrandt, subsequently rejected, for one of the women in these early versions of the subject. We must assume, therefore, that while studying these earlier drawings in the period c.1645-50, many years after they were made, perhaps with Rembrandt in his studio, his pupil was permitted to sketch a version of the composition on the other side of the sheet. In it, he re-evoked the earlier compositions, all the while creating his own variation on them.

Condition: Somewhat tired and light-struck, with stains in the upper half of the sheet and minor losses at the edges and corners, especially along the top.

Summary attribution: Rembrandt (the verso); Carel Fabritius? (the recto)

Date:  1630-32 (the verso); 1645-50? (the recto).

COLLECTION: NL Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (L.1857; inv. MB 160).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Rotterdam, 1852, no.746; Vosmaer, 1868, p.507 (listed); Rotterdam, 1869, no.625; Vosmaer, 1877, p.496 (c.1630-32); Dutuit, 1885, p.93; Michel, 1893, p.592; Kleinmann, V, 63; Lippmann, 3, 78; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.1352 (1630-34; relates to Rembrandt’s painting of the subject in Los Angeles, the associated early etching as well as Benesch 0017 [qv, with Benesch 0083a, for these items]); Valentiner, 1907, p.161; Rotterdam, 1916 & 1921, no.580; Saxl, 1923-24, pp.156-58, repr. (late 1650s); Valentiner, I, 1925, no.421, repr.; Kauffmann, 1926, p.158, n.2, and p.174, n.3; Rotterdam, 1925 and 1927, no.591; Van Dyke, 1927, p.106, repr.fig.111 (Lievens); Exh. London, 1929, no.573 (and Commemorative Catalogue, pp.196-97); Jaarsverslag Museum Boymans, 1929, p.16; Hell, 1930, p.111, n.1; Exh. Amsterdam, 1932, no.225; Jaarsverslag Museum Boymans, 1932, p.10; Paris, 1933, p.18, under no.1147; Benesch, 1935, p.35; Van der Eecken, 1937, p.22, repr.; Exh. Brussels, 1937-38, no.62, repr. pl.XLI; Amsterdam, 1942, under no.1; Benesch, 1947, no.120, repr.; Schuurman, 1947, p.24, repr. fig.26; Benesch, 3, 1955, no.518, repr.fig.644-45/681-82 (c.1641-42, recto and verso; compares Benesch 0531-34; also Rembrandt’s 1642 etching of the subject, Bartsch 72; NH 206; dates verso to same period, comparing Benesch 0663-66 and Benesch 0737; also other drawings with partial reed pen, Benesch 0487, 0500-508 and Benesch 0510); Exh. Vienna, 1956, no.60, repr. pl.4; Benesch, 1956, p.200; Exh. Amsterdam-Rotterdam, 1956.I, p.23, under no.11; Drost, 1957, p.184; Sumowski, 1958, p.197; Drost, 1960, p.149; Gantner, 1964, p.15, n.5; Exh. Amsterdam, 1964-65, no.106 (c.1635-40; compares Benesch 0006; quotes Saxl, 1923-4); Slive, 1965, 2, no.413; Exh. Tokyo-Kyoto, 1968-69, no.101, repr.; Rotterdam, 1969,, p.25, repr. figs 26-27; White, 1969, p.50, repr. fig.50 (relates to Rembrandt’s 1642 etching, Bartsch 72; NH 206); Hollstein, 18, 1969, p.38, under no.B72 (as White, 1969); Rotterdam, 1969, p.25, repr. fig.26-27; Sumowski, Drawings, 1, 1979, under no.218x; Benesch, 1970, pp.207-8; Stechow, 1973, p.11, n.6; Guratzsch, 1975, p.253, n.15; Guratzsch, 1980, 2, no.286, repr. fig.134; Rotterdam, 1988, no.155, repr. (anonymous Rembrandt school, c.1645-50; inspired by Rembrandt’s 1642 etching; verso does not resemble the previous analogies suggested with drawings of c.1640-42); Royalton-Kisch, 1990, p.135, verso repr. fig.74 (verso repr. as Rembrandt, comparing Benesch 0083). [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

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

[1] 1656 inventory of Rembrandt's possessions includes 'Een opweckinge Laseri van Jan Lievensz' (Strauss and van der Meulen, 1979, p.353, no.42). The painting is repr. in Sumowski, 'Gemälde', III, 1983, no.1193, and Exh. Washington-Milwaukee-Amsterdam, 2008-9, no.31.

First posted 26 October 2020.


Benesch 0518a

Subject:  The Good Samaritan Arriving at the Inn (Luke, 5, 25-37)

Verso: See Inscriptions

Medium: Pen (probably reed pen) and brown ink with brown wash, heightened with white; ruled framing lines in pen and brown ink on all but left side; freehand framing lines by the artist to left and below in pen and brown ink. Inscribed verso, in graphite, right: “41” [in a circle]

184 x 287. Watermark: none; chain lines:

COMMENTS: The drawing should be studied in tandem with Benesch 0518b.

The traditional attribution to Rembrandt, were it tenable, would depend largely on the comparison with the Star of the Kings (Benesch 0736), the only documentary composition drawing in a related style. The bolder draughtsmanship and stronger characterisations in the latter undermine the attribution to Rembrandt of the present sheet, not least because the relative uniformity of the penwork, especially in the figures, which speaks against his authorship. The doubts are reinforced by the relative absence the more curvilinear lines that are characteristic of him, and of parallel hatching that hugs the form of the figures, as seen in the Star of the Kings. The proximity of certain details, including the two figures seen from behind just to the left of centre, and the liquidity of the style in both, could be explained as a pupil's emulation of the master. On this assumption the drawing is here dated to about the same time as Benesch 0736. Other, undoubted works by Rembrandt in pen and ink of the 1640s, such as those related to the Hundred Guilder Print (Benesch 0183-85 and 0188), exhibit no nearer analogies; nor do such drawings of the 1640s as the Holy Family in the Carpenter's Workshop (Benesch 0516), which seems wholly different.

Doubts about the drawing's authenticity have been voiced before;[1] and, as has previously been pointed out (Exh. London, 1992), it is comparable to such sketches as the Adoration of the Shepherds in the Rijksmuseum (see Fig.a, top left) and Benesch 0512, both of which are now included in the “Carel Fabritius” group (for which see Benesch 0500).[2] The pen-work in the tree also resembles that in Benesch 0498 (see Fig.a, lower left) and another comparable drawing in the group, of Joseph Interpreting the Dreams of the Baker and Butler, is in the British Museum (inv.Oo,9.101; London, 2010 [online], listed for the first time as belonging to the group here, under Benesch 0500, n.1), in which the figures are particularly similar. Characteristic of these drawings is the somewhat unvaried pressure of the (usually uninterrupted) pen outlines, a feature that contrasts strongly with Rembrandt's own works, the use of considerable amounts of wash and also of the reed pen, which again seems to have been employed here.[3] Although more broadly drawn, Benesch 0518b (qv) appears to be another, perhaps later version of the same subject by the same artist and the discussion of these two drawings runs in tandem.

Apart from Rembrandt’s early painting and etching of the subject,[4] several other versions of the Good Samaritan Arriving at the Inn were made by Rembrandt's pupils, probably at about the same time. They include the painting in the Louvre - discussed further under Benesch 0519b (where reproduced, Fig.b) - in which the horses are especially similar, and the drawing related to it now in Chicago (see Benesch 0519b, Fig.c), both of the late 1640s or early 1650s.[5] The most comparable work to the present sheet is a more broadly executed drawing in Rotterdam (Benesch 518b), now generally given to Govert Flinck or another follower of Rembrandt, and here assigned to the “Carel Fabritius” group also.[6] Yet the greater discipline of the present sheet marks it out as either a more finished version, or, more probably, an earlier one. (The often noted relationship between these works and a print by Jan van de Velde's, which also shows the scene as occurring at night, is not an especially close one.)[7] Other drawn versions are in the Louvre (an old copy) and Weimar (Benesch 0615).[8]

Condition: Good; water stains along lower margin; perhaps slightly trimmed at left; slight scuff on lower border, right of centre.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1645-50.

COLLECTION: GB London, British Museum (inv.1860,0616.122).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Blanc, II, 1861, p.453 (the figure carrying the man better drawn than in the print, Bartsch 90, H.101); Vosmaer, 1877, p.545; Dutuit, IV, 1885, p.85; Exh. London, 1891, no.112; Exh. London, 1899, no.A76 (resembles Louvre painting of 1648, Bredius 581); Michel, 1893, p.581; Seidlitz, 1894, p.123 (doubtful as Rembrandt); Seidlitz, 1895/1922, p.80/140, under no.90 (not especially close to etching Bartsch 90, Hind 101; notes that Vosmaer saw origins of latter in the print by Jan van de Velde - see n.6 above); Lippmann, I, no.190; Bell, c.1905, p.15, repr. pl.XXIV; Bode and Valentiner, 1906, p.80, repr. (c.1648); Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.885 (c.1648 for Louvre painting, Bredius 581); Wurzbach, 1910, p.147; Hind, 1912, I, p.54, repr. pl.XIII (dark, atmospheric use of wash); London, 1915, no.70, repr. pl.IX (follows Exh. London, 1899; notes drawings in Louvre [see n.7 below] and Rotterdam [Benesch 518b], both of which he doubts; quotes Seidlitz, 1894); Eisler, 1918, pp.88 and 106 (c.1648; with Rotterdam drawing, a study for Louvre painting); Neumann, 1918, pp.97 and 101-2, repr. fig.32 (relates in chronological order to Louvre painting, 1633 etching, Rotterdam drawing and Louvre school drawing); Neumann, 1918.I, no.65, repr. (relates with Rotterdam drawing to Louvre painting); Stockholm, 1920, p.13 (compares 'Scene in Temple' Interior, Stockholm, inv. no.1676/75); Valentiner, I, 1925, no.379 repr. (c.1648; compares Louvre painting); Kramar, 1926, p.39 (Rotterdam version doubtful; for Louvre painting); Weisbach, 1926, pp.380 and 387, repr. p.386, repr. fig.108 (1640s; remarks on differences to Louvre painting and notes Berlin sketch, Bode 329/de Groot 110, Berlin drawing HdG 63, not in Benesch , and Louvre school 'copy'); Fierens, 1929, no.36, repr.; Paris, 1933, pp.14-15 and p.50, under no.1268 (compares Louvre sheet, considered a copy, and Chicago drawing; source in Jan van de Velde); Benesch, 1935, pp.39 and 42 (c.1648, noting Louvre painting, Berlin sketch and Rotterdam drawing); Benesch, 1935.I, p.265 (c.1648); Bredius, 1937/35, p.25, under no.581 (relates to Louvre painting and drawing and to Rotterdam drawing); Exh. London, 1938, no.70 (c.1648); Popham, 1939, p.68; Schinnerer, 1944, no.68, repr. (c.1648; as Eisler, 1918); von Alten, 1947, no.47, repr.; Benesch, 1947, no.161, repr. (notes related works and Lugt's discovery of Chicago school drawing); Isarlo, 1947, front page; Brière-Misme, 1949, pp.125 and 127, repr. fig.4 (c.1644-50; compares Weimar and Rotterdam drawings; Chicago sheet is repr. fig.6 as inspired by British Museum and Rotterdam sheets); Benesch, III, 1955/73, no.518a, repr. fig.646/683 (c.1641-3; compares Rotterdam drawing and study in Courtauld Institute of 'Bodies of Saul and his Sons carried away by the Israelites', Benesch 0485a; relates to pupil's painting in the Louvre, noting the preparatory study in Chicago); Exh. London, 1956, p.21, no.3 (later than the 1633 etching, Bartsch 90, Hind 101); Exh. Rotterdam-Amsterdam, 1956, p.98, under no.111 (closest to Rotterdam sheet); Exh. Vienna, 1956, p.26 under no.61 (with Rotterdam study, suggests that Rembrandt may have been planning a painting); Drost, 1957, p.188 (influence of Elsheimer); Sumowski, 1958, repr. fig.39 (c.1646); Exh. Washington-New York, etc., 1958-59, under no.68 (quotes Benesch and describes Rotterdam version as 'less careless'); Bruyn, 1959, p.15, repr. fig.16 (c.1641-43; source in Jan van de Velde [see under Seidlitz, 1895]); Drost, 1960, p.149 (background based on Elsheimer's landscapes); Roger Marx, 1960, repr. p.262, fig.97d; Boeck, 1962, repr. fig.29; Scheidig, 1962, pp.48-49, no.71, repr. (compares Star of Kings, Benesch 0736); White, 1962, pl.3 (c.1642); Stech, 1963, pl.48; Exh. Amsterdam, 1964-65, p.120, under no.101 (quotes Bruyn, 1959); Slive, 1965, I, no.206 (c.1641-3, as also Rotterdam version Benesch 518b); Stech, 1968 ed. of 1963, p.21 and pl.48 (c.1641-43); Haak, 1969/68, p.185, repr. fig.300 (c.1641-3); Exh. Amsterdam, 1969, no.66 (c.1641-3); White, 1969, I, p.45; Exh. Chicago, 1969, under no.146 (attribution questionable, as also of Rotterdam sheet; both the basis for Chicago pupil's drawing); Bonnier, 1970/69, repr. in colour, fig.23; Wegner, 1970, p.32 (agrees with doubts expressed in Exh. Chicago, 1969-70); Haak, 1976/74, no.40, repr. (c.1641-3); Bernhard, 1976, II, repr. p.307; 'British Museum Guide', 1976, p.196, repr. fig.17; Sciolla, 1976, p.10 and pl.XXVII; Broos, 1977, p.110 (quotes Bruyn, 1959 and Exh. Amsterdam, 1964-65); Clark, 1978, p.133 (relates with Rotterdam drawing to pupil's painting in Louvre); Sumowski, 3, 1980, under no.569x and IV, 1981, under no.955x (school; forthcoming no.2641 of his catalogue [presumably as anonymous]); Amsterdam, 1985, under nos.29 and 62 (1640s; notes contrast of pen lines and wash, and other drawings of this period containing figures seen from behind); Manuth, 1987, p.13 (early 1640s); Robinson, 1987, p.246, repr. fig.9 (c.1643); Rotterdam, 1988, under no.78 ('attrib. to' Rembrandt; compares to Rotterdam version which is given with reservations to Flinck); Schneider, 1990, p.179; Exh. London, 1992, no.91, repr. in colour (Rembrandt School, c.1645-47); White, 1992, p.268, repr. fig.39 (Rembrandt); Exh. Stockholm, 1992-3, p.287, repr. fig.104a (Rembrandt); Halewood, 1993, p.290, repr. fig.2 (Rembrandt; contrasts iconography with that of the etching, Bartsch 90, Hind 101; growth of the sublime in Rembrandt's art); Schatborn, 1994, p.24 (suggests Van den Eeckhout, on basis of broad wash and fine hatching); London, 2010 (online), no.103, repr.; [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

PROVENANCE: George John Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer (L.1530); his sale, Philipe, 6th day, 15 June, 1811, lot 660, as “Rembrandt van Rhyn - The Good Samaritan; the wounded man brought to the hotel; a night scene - pen and bistre, broad wash - the effect is admirable and piquant, and the design one of the MOST CAPITAL of the master”, bt ‘P’ [?] (perhaps an abbreviation for the buyer of the previous lot, Alexander, or for the auctioneer, Philipe) £44-2-0; G. Hohn?;[9] S. Woodburn, sale, Christie’s, 9th day, 13 June, 1860, lot 1426.

[1] See Literature: Exh. Chicago, 1969-70, Wegner 1970, Sumowski, 1980 and 1981, Rotterdam, 1988, Exh. London, 1992 and Schatborn, 1994, who advances the name of Van den Eeckhout, but the compiler has always claimed that it is likely to be by a pupil of a later generation. Doubts were first raised by Seidlitz, 1894.

[2] The Rijksmuseum's drawing was tentatively ascribed to Carel Fabritius by Peter Schatborn in Amsterdam, 1985, no.62, and more definitely to him in Schatborn, 2006.I, pp.130-34, repr. fig.2. See under Benesch 0500, n.1.

[3] There are few signs of the tapering at the end of the lines that is characteristic of the quill pen; the thickest lines, for example in the horses at the lower right and the figures at trhe extreme left, seem rather clearly to have been made with the reed pen.

[4] Bredius 545; Wetering 42 (the painting, the attribution of which remains disputed) and Bartsch 90; NH 116 (the etching of 1633).

[5] For the painting, Bredius 581, currently attributed to Van Renesse and formerly thought to be dated 1648, see Exh. Paris, Louvre, Département des peintures, 1988-9, pp.108-13, and (for an attribution to Willem Drost) Royalton-Kisch, 1990, p.132. The drawing, not in Benesch though mentioned by him in the context of the present drawing, was in Exh. Chicago-Minneapolis-Detroit, 1969, no.146, repr. p.235.

[6] See Rotterdam, 1988, no.78, where tentatively ascribed to G. Flinck.

[7] See Literature (Seidlitz, 1895; Paris, 1933; Bruyn, 1959). The print is repr. Hollstein, XXXIII-XXXIV, 1989, no.12.

[8] For the Louvre drawing, see Paris, 1933, no.1268 and Valentiner 380; the Weimar sheet was dated by Benesch to c.1648-49; Münz, 1937, p.108, repr. fig.15, attributed it to Flinck. Its subject has been identified as the 'Levite fastening the dead Concubine to an Ass' by Manuth, 1987, pp.12-13.

[9] Hohn is first mentioned by Hind in London, 1915, perhaps in error. The earlier British Museum exhibition catalogues do not mention this collection.

First posted 29 October 2020.


Benesch 0518b

Subject:  The Good Samaritan Arriving at the Inn (Luke, 5, 25-37)

Verso: Laid down

Medium: Pen (mostly reed pen) and brown ink with brown wash, with some white bodycolour.  

214 x 314mm. Watermark: flail within a chaplet (cf. Churchill 544 [1640] and Voorn 26 [1641]).

COMMENTS: The drawing should be studied in tandem with Benesch 0518a.

The authorship of the drawing cannot be in doubt: a comparison with Benesch 0502 – clearly bey the same hand – is sufficient to confirm an attribution to the “Carel Fabritius” group (for which see Benesch 0500), and similarly heavy and broad reed-pen lines are encountered again, for example, in Benesch 0506 and to the right of Benesch 0504.[1]

Some details are not clear and the use of the sheet was changed: the thin lines underlying the horse, the central figures and those at the window at the upper right, for example, also describe a tall, standing man (perhaps with his arms folded) seen in profil perdu at the extreme left of the sheet; his larger scale suggests that he belonged to an earlier and different compositional idea. Another possible head, by the left rump of the horse, could also belong to the same early stage of work. At the window there are three or four figures, the topmost being the most sketchily delineated (though the pentimenti make a precise count of the figures difficult) and on the extreme right we see the innkeeper at a half-door, his head sketched in perhaps as an afterthought, close to the isolated Samaritan himself. Possibly the Samaritan was originally conceived as the innkeeper, with the former described near the head of the wounded man, pointing up towards the door. The lines at the lower right probably describe a dog.[2]

Although related in composition to Benesch 0518a (qv), which appears to be by the same hand, the handling here is in general vastly broader: apart from the thin lines mentioned above, which in places are delicate (as in the horse), the drawing resembles a battle on the page, with some campaigns conducted with an expressive, wilful freedom that is rarely paralleled in seventeenth-century art. Bold strokes define, revise and confirm the placement of the figures and the disposition of the architecture. The drama of the Caravaggesque light may have taken its cue from Rembrandt’s 1638 painting of the subject, now in Krakow,[3] but is here adapted to create a nocturne on a seemingly inhospitable night. Benesch 0487 and Benesch 0502 come close in their handling, and like the lower right of Benesch 0497A, the scrolling outlines of the foliage at the left have links with the underpainting of Fabritius’s painting of Hagar and the Angel, now in the Leiden Collection (see Fig.a). Like Benesch 0518a, there is a clear link with the Rembrandt school painting of the subject in the Louvre (Fig.b),[4] once thought not only to be by Rembrandt but also to be dated 1648 – neither supposition is currently supported – but possibly made a few years later. A sketch of the composition of the painting now in Chicago (Fig.c), which resembles drawings attributed to Willem Drost, has sufficient differences of detail (especially in the architecture) to suggest that it is not a copy of the painting, which in 1990 led the compiler to suggest that the painting could also be the work of Drost (an idea that has not gained traction).[5] Of course, many of the problems concerning the chronology of the drawings would fall into place if the painting were attributed to Carel Fabritius, but this proposition seems less probable.

For the present it can only be said that Benesch 0518a and 0518b, despite a divergence in style, both appear to belong to the “Carel Fabritius” group and that both relate in different ways to the Louvre painting and the Chicago drawing. As all were made in Rembrandt’s orbit, it is tempting to suppose that they may all be derived from a lost prototype by Rembrandt himself, whether a drawing or a painting; but such a supposition floats only on the treacherous waters of speculation.

The watermark is worthy of comment: it appears on a number of drawings by Rembrandt of c.1638-39, mostly in iron-gall ink: Benesch 0226; Benesch 0246 and Benesch 0393, as well as the Youth Walking with a Pole, now in the Rijksmuseum (Not in Benesch; inv. RP-T-1984-119). Benesch 0135, in red chalk, thought to date from a few years earlier, also has the mark, which is described by Churchill (no.544) and Voorn (no.26) respectively as dating from 1640 or 1641. A date in the early 1640s has been proposed by a number of earlier commentators for Benesxch 0518a-b,and the watermark does seem anomalous in a drawing that we prefer to date c.1650, for the reasons stated above. In support of the later date, one might also point to a certain congruity of style with drawings now given to Constantijn van Renesse, such as Benesch 1367.[6] Either the drawing’s date is here misjudged, or a sheet of this paper was used – or re-used – some years later; or else paper bearing the same watermark was also manufactured in or around 1650.

Condition: Worn at the edges; possibly suffered from some water damage (eg., at the centre and upper left segments of the sheet), though this may have occurred at the time of the application of the wash.

Summary attribution: Carel Fabritius?

Date:  c.1650?

COLLECTION: NL Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (inv. MB 161 [PK]).

FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Rotterdam, 1852, no.738; Vosmaer, 1868, p.216, n.1 (relates horse to Concord of State [see Comments above]); Rotterdam, 1869, no.620; Vosmaer, 1877, p.544; Dutuit, 1885, p.93; Michel, 1893, p.330, repr. p.592; Kleinmann, 6, no.5; Lippmann, 3, no.50; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.1350 (c.1648; study for Louvre painting [for which see Comments above]); Michel, 1906, repr. opp. p.58; Rembrandt Bijbel, 1906, p.63, N.t.d. 15; Saxl, 1908, p.346; Schmidt-Degener, 1912, p.16, repr. p.17; London, 1915, under no.70 (doubtful); Rotterdam, 1916, n.583; Eisler, 1918, p.106, repr. fig.60; Neumann, 1918, pp.97 and 101-2, repr. fig.33; Rotterdam, 1921, no.583; Neumann, 1923, no.66, repr.; Rotterdam, 1925, no.594; Hooykaas, 1925, p.24, repr. fig.9; Valentiner, 1, 1925, no.378, repr. (c.1648; relates to Louvre painting [for which see Comments above]); Kramar, 1926, p.158, n.2; Rotterdam, 1927 and 1928, no.594; Exh. London, 1929, no.618 (and Supplement, p.209); Jaarverslag Museum Boijmans, 1929, p.16; Exh. Amsterdam, 1932, no.259 (c.1641-43); Jaarverslag Museum Boijmans, 1932, p.10; Benesch, 1935, p.39; Bredius, 1935, under no.581 (1648; as Vosmaer, 1968 and also relates to Louvre painting [on which see Comments above]); Poortenaar, 1943, p.37, no.29, repr.; Schinnerer, 1944, p.32, no.67, repr.; Benesch, 1947, p.35, under no.161; Brière-Misme, 1949, pp.125 and 127, repr. fig.3; Benesch, 3, 1955, no.518b, repr. fig.647/684 (c.1641-43; later than Benesch 0518a; Louvre painting took over various motifs; relates background to Benesch 1018; broad lines compared with Benesch 0502-4, Benesch 0523 and Benesch 0552); Exh. Rotterdam-Amsterdam, 1956, no.111; Exh. Stockholm, 1956, no.121; Exh. Vienna, 1956, no.61; Drost, 1957, p.188; Exh. Munich, 1956, no.16, repr. fig.15; Trautscholdt, 1957, p.161; Hanfstaengel, 1958, p.74, repr. p.68; Exh. Washington-New York-Minneapolis-Boston-Cleveland-Chicago, 1958–59, no.68; Roger-Marx, 1960, p.24, no.39, repr.; Sumowski, 1961, pp.9-10, under no.502 (probably Flinck; relates to Louvre painting and compares Benesch 0502); Rotermund, 1963, p.184, no.191, repr.; Exh. Amsterdam, 1964-65, no.101; Von Moltke, 1965, p.261, under no.172 (not Flinck, [pace Sumowski, 1961]); Slive, 1965, 2, no.383, repr.; Exh. Prague, 1966, no.90; Wegner, 1966, p.104; Trautscholdt, 1967, p.127; Haak, 1968, p.185, repr. fig.299; Gerson, 1968, p.476, repr. fig.b (“attributed to” Rembrandt); Muller, 1968, p.33; Bonnier, 1969, p.42, repr.; Exh. Amsterdam, 1969, no.67, repr. (as Vosmaer, 1868); Rotterdam, 1969, p.26, repr. pl.30 (perhaps wrongly attributed to Rembrandt); Sumowski, 1969, p.469; White, 1969.I, p.435 (uncertain attribution); Exh. Chicago-Minneapolis-Detroit, 1969-70, under no.46; Wegner, 1970, p.32; Haverkamp-Begemann, 1971.I, p.88 (probably not Rembrandt); Broos, 1977, p.110; Rotenberg, 1978, repr. fig.146; Clark, 1978, pp.133-34, repr. fig.149; Rotterdam, 1988, no.78, repr. (Flinck; close to Benesch 0518a; compares print of the same subject by Jan van de Velde [Hollstein 12; in fact closer to Rembrandt’s 1633 etching and possibly made later]; following Benesch, compares central group to Benesch 0485a; otherwise as Sumowski, 1961); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]

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

[1] The many drawings compared by Benesch, 1955 (see Literature) also seem to belong to the group.

[2] Many of these details were first fully described by Giltaij in Rotterdam, 1988, no.78.

[3] Bredius 442; Wetering 159, who speaks of its “dramatic lighting” (p.561).

[4] The Louvre painting is inv.1737; see Sumowski, Gemälde, 4, 1989, no.1658a, repr.. It currently carries an attribution to Constantijn van Renesse.

[5] See Royalton-Kisch, 1990, p.132.

[6] Ibid., 2000, p.162, repr. fig.40; Berlin, 2018, no.100.

First posted 1 November 2020.