NB: Because of the use of Flash-based software by my provider, the text is not searchable online with the Find tool; however, all text can be copied and pasted into a searchable file, such as MS Word. Please download/turn on Adobe Flashplayer to see this site properly.


NB. Please see the Disclaimer on the Homepage.

To navigate the site, please use the scroller near the left margin of the text or click anywhere on the text and use your computer's controls (eg. the 'Page Down' button - having turned off the 'Numbers Lock'). This should move you through the text very swiftly. If you click on the text and then press Ctrl+End, you move immediately to the end of the text.

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.

For an explanation of the use of question marks in the Summary Attributions, please see under the 'About' tab.


Anyone is welcome to quote from this site. Please acknowledge by writing:
'See rembrandtcatalogue.net, Benesch [number], [date of catalogue entry] (accessed [date])'. For example:
See rembrandtcatalogue.net, Benesch 152, 2 June 2013 (accessed 12 March 2018).

Benesch 0477
Subject: A Nude Man Kneeling
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 helpful qualities by which to judge the attribution to Rembrandt of other drawings of the early 1640s.
The study belongs in iconography with Benesch 0478-80 and Benesch 0482, a group which is mainly discussed under Benesch 0478 (qv). A slighter sketch of the figure, 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. Whether the subject of these earlier sketches was always intended for a Beheading of St John is cast into some doubt by the other drawings, some of which include the same or a similar kneeling figure (who, however, is neither bearded nor hooded, unlike St John) in a scene of a group beheading (see especially Benesch 0478-79 and the discussion under Benesch 0478). 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 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), he 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; 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 latter 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 (which has a recto 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, faintly, as an underdrawing, beneath the main sketch 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, and the executioner on the far right seems to be the same man as the one wielding the sword on the left. But in Benesch 0478, the three decapitated heads in the foreground suggest a multiple execution. For this drawing in particular, the identification of the subject as the Beheading of the Anabaptist Martyrs 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),[2] and the stories of their 16th-century martyrs were a current topic in religious and political debates in Amsterdam around 1640.[3]
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.[4] 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, with its precise and sometimes detailed approach (in the head, especially) stands somewhat apart; 2. Benesch 0482 verso and Benesch 0479 are alike in their refined, hair’s- breadth penmanship (Benesch 0479 is more resolved and therefore was probably drawn immediately after Benesch 0482); while 3., Benesch 0478 and Benesch 0480, resemble each other in their more liquid handling, often with a well-charged pan. 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 right of Benesch 0478 appears especially convincing for Rembrandt, the facial features and the scalp drawn with extraordinary delicacy and exactness in a difficult perspective - even his lips and teeth are suggested (see also Fig.f); while the broadly-handled figures towards the right of Benesch 0482 recto (its verso being in group 2) seem close to the executioner in the present drawing (Benesch 0478) from group 3 (see Fig.c).
In Benesch 0482, the forceful power of the recto speaks 100% for Rembrandt, quite apart from the delicacy and refinement of the underlying executioner and two figures on the verso. These are stylistically consistent with Benesch 0479; and Benesch 0479, as we have seen, is linked to Benesch 0478 (in the corpse and heads below). Only Benesch 0480 stands somewhat 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, 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 the figure of St John is clearly based on Benesch 0477, though has a sweeter, almost sentimental expression. His arms are slightly more raised, however, as they are 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 the same time. There are a few bolder strokes in the executioner of Benesch 0480 that might have been added by Rembrandt as corrections: 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 under Benesch 0480, Fig.a).
Also of note is the fact that the kneeling figures in Benesch 0478, Benesch 0479 and Benesch 0482 verso are all hooded, 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. As mentioned above, therefore, it is clearly arguable that the former three drawings (those with the eyes covered) show another subject. In Benesch 0477, the figure wears a beard, which again is customary for St John the Baptist, as he does in Benesch 0480. The prisoners in Benesch 0478, Benesch 0479 and 0482 verso do not (though the latter is not completely clear in this respect: his eyes are drawn in, and the ‘hood’ may be an afterthought). The decapitated heads in Benesch 0478-79 are not hooded, however (perhaps suggesting that the same hood was 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, all relate to the subject of the beheading of the Mennonite Martyrs, as suggested above for Benesch 0478. As well as the difference in the hood, 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 in Benesch 0478, Benesch 0479, and Benesch 0482 verso. While not undermining the attribution of Benesch 0482, the quality of which would seem unparallelled in a pupil’s works, the connection with the etching, if the drawing does not show St John, is not beyond dispute and its “documentary” status is therefore a little insecure (which is why we put the asterisk denoting documentary status for Benesch 0482 in brackets in this instance).
Other suggestions have been made concerning the second iconography: the Beheading of the Tarquinian Conspirators has been suggested for Benesch 0478-79 (by Benesch, 1954), and the Beheading of Anabaptists for Benesch 0478 (by Dickey, as noted above, followed by Haverkamp-Begemann in New York, 1999). As so often with the productions of Rembrandt and his workshop, the iconographic problem seems unlikely to be resolved definitively and no further speculations are added here. 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, they were probably all made at the same time as Benesch 0477 and the related etching of 1640: there is nothing in the style of Benesch 0478-79, Benesch 0480 (which although stylistically closer to Benesch 0478 does represent St John again) and Benesch 0482 to suggest that they were made significantly later.
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 and the 'ducking' soldier in Benesch 0478 shown on the right of the same illustration): together these 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 as well as those of Christ in Benesch 0482 recto, as mentioned above.
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.[5] The corpse at the lower left looks to have been based on that in Benesch 0479 (which is by Rembrandt himself); but for the heads on the right, the quality, as we have seen, speaks for another intervention by Rembrandt, this time in the style he was employing himself in Benesch 0479 (see Figs.b and f). The head on the right, especially, with the details of the facial features and the scalp drawn with extreme sensitivity and with the lightest of touches (even conveying the open mouth and teeth within it) and in a difficult perspective, seems inseparable from Rembrandt’s own handling of the heads in Benesch 0479 and that of the executioner underlying Benesch 0482 recto (see the top of the detail at Fig.g).
Two sketches of the same scene by another, weaker pupil are on a sheet in Munich (Fig.h).[6] 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 1276a), 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). Benesch 0859 shows a kneeling figure posed like the St John in Benesch 0477, Benesch 0478 and Benesch 0480, but is a much later drawing of the 1650s. A similarly posed “executioner” appears as he slaughters an ox in Benesch A18 (see under the ‘Not in Benesch’ tab).[7]
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 was probably drawn first. Benesch 0478 and Benesch 0480 appear to a large extent to be by Ferdinand Bol, though with some boldly drawn corrections that are likely to be by Rembrandt himself, who must also have added the heads at the bottom right of Benesch 0478 (which compare very closely with the equivalent head in Benesch 0479).
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); Benesch, III, 1955/73, no.478, repr. fig.596/633 (c.1640; connects with St John the Baptist etching [see under Benesch 0477, Fig.a]; also connects with Benesch 0479 and Benesch 0482; may represent the Beheading of the Tarquinian Conspirators); Exh. New York, 1964, p.31; White and Boon, 1969, under no. B92; Volskaya, 1970, pp.88, 93 and 96; Roberts, 1976, pl.39; Konstam, 1977, p.94, repr. fig.35 (same scene from another angle in Benesch 0479); Konstam, 1978, pp.24-25, repr. fig.2; Exh. New York, 1979-80, no.31, repr.; Logan, 1980, p.58; Amsterdam, 1985, under no.19, repr. fig.19c (probably by a pupil); Exh. New York, 1985; Mules, 1985, p.18, repr.; Alpers, 1988, p.43, repr. fig.2.16; Exh. Berlin-Amsterdam-London, 1991-92.I, p.74, under no.19, repr. p.77, fig.19e (as Amsterdam, 1985 but credits the British Museum as the owner); Exh. London, 1992, under no.35, repr. fig.35b (rather in the manner of Bol); Dickey, 1995, pp.58-61, repr. fig.9 (pupil or copy after Rembrandt); Exh. New York, 1995-96, vol.2, no.73, repr. (school of Rembrandt); Dickey, 1996, p.96, n.11 (subject is the Beheading of Anabaptist Martyrs); New York, 1999, no.77, repr. (school of Rembrandt; depicts Beheading of Anabaptist Martyrs; Munich inv.1455 by the same hand); Rutgers, 2004, p.156 (relates to Rembrandt’s etchings [see under Benesch 0477, Fig.a]; part of exercise in moving figures around composition, as Benesch 0477, Benesch 0479 and Benesch 0482); London, 2010 (online), under no.32. [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]
PROVENANCE: Count A. de Robiano; his sale, Amsterdam, Muller-Mensing, 15-16 June, 1926, lot 453; A.W.M. Mensing; his sale, Amsterdam, Muller-Mensing, 27-29 April, 1937, lot 555; sale, Bern, Kornfeld and Klipstein, 27 May, 1964, lot 245, repr. as frontis., bt Lock Galleries for Robert Lehman, by whom presented to the present repository, 1975.
[1] First transcribed in New York, 1999, no.77.
[2] 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)..
[3] See Dickey, 1994 and 1996, and in Exh. New York, 1995-96, no.73.
[4] Van Hoogstraten, 1678, p.192 called this practice a Kamerspel.
[5] 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.
[6] Munich, 1973, no.1168inv.1455; ; repr. New York, 1999, fig.77.2.
[7] 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 copy (fig.i) with the victim in profile to right; the scenes is decked out further to the right with around seven onlookers under a portico. Pen and brown ink, brown wash, some black chalk, brown ink framing lines, watermark Strasbourg lily with ‘4WR’ underneath,1 147 x 207 mm (https://www.old-master-drawing.com/home/product/view/13/98.html accessed 16 May 2020).
First posted 21 May 2020.

Benesch 0479
Subject: Three Men Being Beheaded
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 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. However, the victims are beardless, so that another subject may have also been in view, one plausible suggestion being the Beheading of the Anabaptist Martyrs.
Rembrandt’s 1640 etching of the Beheading of St John the Baptist was probably made at around the same time, along with the 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 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 corrected and retouched by Rembrandt. In the case of Benesch 0478, Rembrandt also added the decapitated heads below. The latter drawing is the most likely to represent the Beheading of the Anabaptist Martyrs, although other suggestions have been made, including the Execution of the Tarquinian Conspirators (Livy, II, 4).[1]
It has been noted that the right-hand group resembles the three central figures in Rembrandt's earlier red chalk drawing of 'Christ shown to the People' in Dresden (Benesch 0135).[2]
Condition: Probably trimmed along right edge; greyish stains where attached to mount; slight foxing.
Summary attribution: Rembrandt.
Date: c.1640.
COLLECTION: GB London, British Museum (inv. 1860,0616.130).
FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Vosmaer, 1877, p.602; Middleton, 1878, p.203, under no.209 (left group resembles the etching; notes the study for the latter, Benesch 0477); Dutuit, IV, 1885, p.86 (an 'Execution'); Seidlitz, 1895/1922, p.82/141, under no.92 (not especially close to the etching); Exh. London, 1899, no.A34; Lippmann, IV, no.83; Kleinmann, IV, no.11; Bell, c.1905, repr.pl.XX; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.892; Wurzbach, 1910, p.417; Hind, 1912/24, under no.171 (follows Seidlitz, 1895, but sees Benesch 0482 as a study for the etching); London, 1915, no.55 (c.1635-40; compares etching); Paris, 1933, p.50, under no.1265 (groups with Benesch 0482 and 0477; notes Turin version, inv. V.280, of which a copy in Louvre); Valentiner, II, 1934, no.543, repr. (c.1640; perhaps depicts the 'Death of St James the Great'); Benesch, 1935, p.30 (1640; compares sketch on verso of Benesch 0482); Benesch, 1935.I, p.264 (resembles etching); Exh. London, 1938, no.55 (c.1635-40); Amsterdam, 1942, p.11, under no.25 (relates to Benesch 0482 verso); Benesch, 1947, p.28, under no.109 (relates to Benesch 0478 and Benesch 0482 verso; suggests subject is the Beheading of Tarquinian Conspirators); Münz, 1952, II, p.98, under no.209 (attribution doubtful; Benesch 482 perhaps a study for the British Museum drawing); Benesch, III, 1955/73. no.479, repr. fig.600/635 (c.1640; compares to Benesch 0477-78 and Benesch 0482 verso; represents Beheading of Tarquinian Conspirators); Exh. London, 1956, p.26, no.2 (follows Benesch, 1947); Benesch, 1959, p.311, repr. fig.5, reprinted 1970, p.214, repr. fig.176 (elaborates on identification as the Beheading of Tarquinian Conspirators); London, 1961, p.22, under no.187 (groups with Benesch 0485a, following Isarlo in 'Arts', 125, 1947); Scheidig, 1962, p.44 and no.43, repr. (successive incidents represented; for the etching; see also text related to n.2 below); Krönig, 1965, pp.102 and 108 (before the etching); Slive, 1965, II, no.532, repr. (c.1640, probably for the etching); Clark, 1966, pp.67-8, repr. fig.59 (for the etching; executioner based on Leonardo's 'Trattato' as illustrated under Poussin's direction, published only in 1651, but Sandrart had a MS copy in Amsterdam in 1637; similar figure in Benesch A18, 'Two Men slaughtering an Ox', Munich); Haverkamp-Begemann, 1966-67, pp.306-7 (perhaps based on Lucas rather than Leonardo and Poussin, pace Clark, 1966); Gerson, 1968, repr. p.465, fig.f (of 'Beheading of Baptist'); Exh. Amsterdam, 1969, no.60 (1640; represents 'Beheading of the Baptist'); Neufeld, 1970, p.177, n.4 (successive incidents represented; for the etching); Exh. Vienna, 1970-71, p.78, under no.126 (relates with other sheets to the etching); Campbell, 1971, p.258 (perhaps inspired by Roman reliefs); Bernhard, 1976, II, repr. p.270; Broos, 1977, p.109 (quoting Clark, 1966); Konstam, 1977, p.94, repr. p.96, fig.34 (the two groups drawn from the same models; group in Benesch 0478 in same pose but seen from the side); Konstam, 1978, p.24, repr. fig.1 (as in 1977); Amsterdam, 1985, pp.42-3, under no.19, repr. p.45, fig.19b (perhaps drawn from models posed in the studio; compares Benesch 482 and 478); Alpers, 1988, repr. fig.2, 17; Exh. Berlin-Amsterdam-London, 1991-2, pp.74-77, repr. fig.19e; Exh. London, 1992, no.35, repr. (c.1640; three moments in the same event); Dickey, 1995, pp.59-60, repr. fig.8 (Anabaptist martyrdom represented); Exh. New York, 1995-6, p.180 under no.73, repr. fig.96; Dickey, 1996, pp.96-8, repr. fig.6 (as Dickey, 1995); 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. 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, 1954; Valentiner, 1934, suggested the Death of St James the Great. It was Dickey, 1995, who wrote persuasively on the possibility that the Anabaptist martyrs are represented (supported by Haverkamp-Begemann in New York, 1999).
[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 and the related etching by Rembrandt of the same subject, 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 finest drawings, made near the end of his apprenticeship with Rembrandt. A comparison with works such as Benesch 0386 (the figures on the left)[1] and others 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 Fig.a): 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, Figs.c and g). In style these corrections are close to Rembrandt’s liquid drawings of the 1640s, including Benesch 0482 recto and Benesch 0736.
A copy is in Besançon (inv. D.2645).
Condition: Generally good and fresh; some of the white heightening (lead white) beginning to oxidise; the verso somewhat discoloured apart from near the edges; traces of an old mounting tab.
Summary attribution: Ferdinand Bol, retouched by Rembrandt.
Date: c.1640 (or later?).
COLLECTION: Private Collection.
FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Exh. Frankfurt, 1926, no. 358 (end of 1630s); Kauffmann, 1926, p.171; Valentiner, II, 1934, no.279, repr.; Exh. Bern, 1937, no.187; Benesch, III, 1955/73, no.480, repr. fig. 601/636 (c.1640; compares Benesch 0386 and the etching [see under Benesch 0477, fig.a]); records attribution to Rembrandt written on the mat by F.A. van Scheltema, 1883, and Bode’s opinion that the drawing is contemporary with the Night Watch of 1642 [Bredius 410; Wetering 190); Sumowski, 1961, p. 8; Sumowski, 1964, p. 33-34; Exh. London, 1992, under no.35 (perhaps Ferdinand Bol); New York, 1999, under no.77, nn.3 and 16 (by a different hand to Benesch 0478); London, 2010 (online) under no.38; [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]
PROVENANCE: Cornelis Ploos van Amstel (his inscriptions, L.3002 and L.3004); Jacob de Vos Jacobszoon (L.1450); probably his sale, Amsterdam, Roos et al, 22-24 May, 1883, bt William Pitcairn Knowles (L.2643); Pieter Langerhuizen (L.2095; nephew of J. de Vos above); sale, Amsterdam, Muller, 15-16 June, 1926, lot 433; Robert von Hirsch, Basel; his sale, London, Sotheby's, 20 June, 1978, lot 40; sale, London, Sotheby’s, 9 April, 1981, lot 94, repr.; John R. Gaines; his sale New York, Sotheby's, 17 November 1986, lot 18 repr. (as Rembrandt, but with a saleroom notice stating that an alternative attribution to Ferdinand Bol had been proposed [presumably by Peter Schatborn and the present writer]);[2] Alfred Taubman; his sale, New York, Sotheby’s, 27 January, 2016, lot 24 (as Ferdinand Bol), sold for $150,000.
[1] As proposed by Benesch, 1955/73.
[2] In 1986 I first marked my copy of Benesch with a tentative attribution to Bol.
First posted 21 May 2020.

Benesch 0480a
Subject: The Beheading of St John the Baptist
Medium: Pen and brown ink with brown wash. Inscribed lower right in pen and brown ink by a later hand: “Rembrant”
216 x 196.
COMMENTS: The drawing, for the most part insecure in the details as well as the characterisations, is somewhat loosely drawn, although the more hesitant, bitty penwork in the underdrawing of the saint’s corpse, visible lower centre, is more precise. In general, the manner is reminiscent of Ferdinand Bol (cf. Benesch 0480) but could be a work of a slightly later date by another pupil, as the style also resembles that of Benesch 0483-84 more than anything certainly by Bol or his master (and more than Benesch 0487, the comparison made by Benesch, 1955/73) and reflects that of Rembrandt in the mid-1640s, as in the Star of the Kings, Benesch 0736.
However, the description of the arch above on the left in rapid-fire, unhesitating penlines that convey the correct perspective precisely merits another look: the quality here is suddenly extraordinary and the lines drawn so fast that the nib outran the ink in the parallel lines in the upper right section of the arch. The style in this area is again reminiscent of Benesch 0736 – compare the fully looping line at the top left with that in the awning towards the top left of Star of the Kings (see the detail illustrated) – but at a more hurried moment. This leap in the draughtsman’s capacity strongly suggests that the architectural elements of the drawing were deftly amplified at the upper left by Rembrandt. The freely drawn framing lines at the left and across the top also appear to belong to this development by Rembrandt, who may have added the dab of wash, rubbed with the finger, at the upper left, and a few touches with the reed pen above the upper onlooker sporting a feather and also at the lower right.
Condition: Good; a slight nick in the paper at the top left corner.
Summary attribution: School of Rembrandt (Ferdinand Bol??), corrected by Rembrandt.
Date: c.1644-46.
COLLECTION: USA Worcester, Worcester Art Museum (inv.1956.99).
FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, III, 1955/73, no.480a, repr. (c.1640; relates especially to Benesch 0480, also to Benesch 0477-79 and Benesch 0487); Sadik, 1957, p.26; Krönig, 1965, p.108, nn.7 and 9; Wheelock, 1983, p.294, nn.9-10; [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]
PROVENANCE: Bernard Houthakker (dealer, Amsterdam), from whom purchased by the present repository in 1956.
First posted 21 May 2020.

Benesch 0481
Subject: A Woman Kneeling and Bowing Low
Medium: Pen and brown ink (in two shades, the paler probably drawn with a reed pen) on pale brownish paper.
82 x 86 (arched at top).
COMMENTS: The drawing - known mostly through poor illustrations only until being put online - is close in style to works attributed to Willem Drost, but the quality is more commensurate with Rembrandt’s own drawings of the early 1650s: it partakes of the subtlety and variety of touch seen, for example, in Benesch 0948A and Benesch 0885, and the refined, dryly-applied hatching resembles the shading in Benesch 1043. Drost’s drawings generally lack the extreme delicacy seen here, with harsher results – compare his drawings Benesch 0893, Benesch 0944, Benesch 0955 recto, Benesch 1027, Benesch 1104 and Benesch 1164 (see Fig.a).
A noticeable feature of the drawing is the presence of two tones of brown ink, one darker, apparently applied with a quill pen, and a lighter shade that appears to be drawn with a reed pen. Could it be that the reed pen touches are by Rembrandt correcting Drost? On balance we prefer to assign the drawing entirely to Rembrandt himself, as the comparisons above suggest that that is the correct conclusion. The combination of two tones and of more liquid with dryer strokes is also found in Rembrandt, as in Benesch 0913 and Benesch 1064.
Saxl (1939) followed by Benesch (1955/73) suggested plausibly that the figure could have been intended for a depiction of the Offering of Manoah, although the figure could also find her place in other iconographies as well.[1]
Condition: Good; a few minor stains; trimmed slightly irregularly (especially top right and lower left).
Summary attribution: Rembrandt.
Date: c.1652.
COLLECTION: USA Northampton (Mass.), Smith College Museum of Art (inv. SC 1959.161).
FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Benesch, 1925, p.29 (perhaps a study for the Hundred Guilder Print); Valentiner, I, 1925, no.140, repr. (c.1640); Exh. Frankfurt, 1926, no.359; Saxl, 1939, p.11, n.1 (school of Rembrandt; shows Manoah's wife); Benesch, III, 1955/73, no.481, repr. (c.1640-41; compares for date Benesch 0477; probably for an Offering of Manoah, noting painting of 1641, Bredius 509); Exh. New York-Cambridge, 1960, no.37, repr. pl.31 (c.1640-41; perhaps shows Woman with an Issue of Blood, or the Canaanite Woman); Corpus, III, C83 [as by Drost; not in Wetering]); Sumowski, Drawings, V, 1981, under no.1108 (Perhaps shows Ruth from the Old Testament); [Not in Schatborn, 2019.]
PROVENANCE: Private collection; their sale (6 Zeichnungen aus Frankfurter Privatbesitz), Frankfurt, Baer, 3 may, 1921, lot 1; Tony Strauss-Negbaur; his sale, Berlin, Cassirer-Helbing, 25-26 November, 1930 [?], lot 82, repr. pl.xx (dated c.1650 by Rosenberg); gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard C. Harrison (Ruth Leonard, class of 1910) to the present repository, 1959.
[1] Benesch dated the drawing c.1641 because of the “dated” painting of the Offering of Manoah in Dresden, which bears a “Rembrandt” signature and date of that year. But the signature is clearly dubious, the painting was convincingly ascribed to Willem Drost by Corpus, III, no.C83, and there is no connection with Benesch 0481 (but there probably is with Benesch 0976). Other possible subjects for such a submissive figure (two ventured by Haverkamp-Begemann in Exh. New York-Cambridge, 1960, no.37 - see Literature above) are Hagar and the Angel, Christ and the Woman with an Issue of Blood (cf. Benesch 1052), the Canaanite Woman (Matthew, XV, 25) and perhaps even Christ with the Magdalene after the Resurrection (cf. Benesch 0537-38). Sumowski, Drawings, V, 1985, under no.1108, suggested Ruth (for whom see Benesch 0133, Benesch 0162 and Benesch 0175).
First posted 21 May 2020.

Benesch 0482
Subject: Christ Carried to the Tomb (over a sketch of an executioner) with a Weeping Woman
Verso: An Executioner Beheading a Prisoner
Medium: Pen and brown ink; ruled framing lines in pen and brown ink. Inscribed verso, upper right, by Hofstede de Groot, in graphite: “f. njz.-” ; lower right, in pencil, with the Hofstede de Groot cat. no.: “1274”; upper left (with the sheet turned 90°), in pen and brown ink, “f ”; lower right, possibly in the same hand, in pen and brown ink: “1440 / ”
156 x 201 (the lower left corner made up). Watermark: none; chain lines: 25v.
COMMENTS: The verso and, on the recto, the figure of an executioner that is visible underneath the sketch of the Entombment of Christ, 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 sketches are likely to 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 that another beheading was in Rembrandt’s mind when he made the present sketch, as also when Benesch 0478-79 were made, as the prisoner is apparently hooded and also 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 attroibution" 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, may have been different, likely the Beheading of Anabaptist Martyrs.
Given the connection of the executioner on the recto with the 1640 etching, the study for an Entombment of Christ 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 subject of 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: Rembrandt’s later treatments of the subject 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 schism in style between the bold sketch of the Entombment and the delicately sketched executioner on the recto (and the figures of the verso), it could be that the Entombment 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 thus later. Indeed, the style contrasts with most other the documentary drawings of the early 1640s, such as Benesch 0500a and Benesch 0759. However, while the door should remain ajar in order to admit such a possibility, the comparable style of the corrections by Rembrandt observed in Benesch 0478 and Benesch 0480 admits the generally-accepted theory that the Entombment also dates from c.1640, the date of the etched Beheading of the Baptist. The Entombment sketch stands, like Benesch 0292 (to some degree), as an adumbration of Rembrandt’s later, more liquid style. And at the same time, the heart-rending description in just a few lines of the weeping woman on the left attains the epic pathos of the mourners created before him by such luminaries as Roger van der Weyden, Mantegna and Michelangelo.
Condition: Light foxing throughout; the lower left corner made up, cutting away the lower part of the weeping woman on the recto.
Summary attribution: Rembrandt(*).[2]
Date: c.1640.
COLLECTION: NL Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum (L.2228; inv. RP-T-1930-28).
FURTHER LITERATURE/REMARKS: Michel, 1893, p.572; Exh. The Hague, 1902, no.67; Exh. Leiden, 1906, no.39; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no. 1274 (c. 1640; relates to etching, Bartsch 92; NH 183); Exh. Paris, 1908, no.361 (c.1640); Exh. Amsterdam, 1913, no.32; Teding van Berchout, 1913, no.9; Exh. Leiden, 1916, no.27 (1640); Hirschmann, 1917, p.15 (c.1640); Seidlitz, 1917, p.253 (Rembrandt?); Hind, 1923, under no.171; Exh. The Hague, 1930, no.27 (c.1640); Paris, 1933, under no.1265; Valentiner, II, 1934, no.502, repr. (c.1638-40); Benesch, 1935, p.34 (c.1640-41) and p.30 (verso 1640); Oxford, 1938, under no.184; Amsterdam, 1942, nos.48 and 25, repr. pl.6 (c.1639); Münz, 1952, under no.209; Benesch, III, 1955/73, no.482, repr. (c.1640-41; relates to Benesch 0483-45; notes Turin and Munich versions [here discussed under Benesch 0478]); Exh. Rotterdam-Amsterdam, 1956, no.82 (c.1639); Sadik, 1957, p.26; Rosenberg, 1959, p.112 (1639); Haverkamp-Begemann, 1961, p.50; Sumowski, 1961, p.8; Krönig, 1965, pp.102 and 106 (1640); Neufeld, 1970, p.178 (verso 1640); Munich, 1973, under no.1377; Sumowski, Drawings, 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.; London, 1992, under no. 35 (made immediately before Benesch 0479); 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; 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; 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.
First posted 21 May 2020.

You are viewing the text version of this site.

To view the full version please install the Adobe Flash Player and ensure your web browser has JavaScript enabled.

Need help? check the requirements page.

Get Flash Player