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    Sale 1961

    Old Master And 19th Century Drawings

    24 January 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 144

    Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Leiden 1606-1669 Amsterdam)

    Seated man, half length, at work

    Price Realised  

    Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Leiden 1606-1669 Amsterdam)
    Seated man, half length, at work
    black chalk
    5 x 4 in. (127 x 102 mm.)

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    This drawing was published by Sumowski in 1971 as by Rembrandt and he noted that the model was first used in 1648 for paintings with the head of Christ (A. Bredius, Rembrandt, the Complete Edition of the Paintings, 3rd ed., revised by H. Gerson, London 1969, nos. 620 and 621) and later again in the mid 1650s (Bredius, op. cit., nos. 622, 624, 624A). Sumowski dates the drawing to 1648-50. In the sale of 1990, however, Sumowski was quoted as believing that the drawing was executed by an associate or pupil of Rembrandt.
    Another drawing of the same model, though full length, was sold at Christie's, London, 8 July 2003, no. 100. It is not clear in either drawing what the man is doing or what he is holding in his hands. While the full-length figure was mainly drawn in outline, the present drawing is more elaborately finished. As in the full length figure, the different phases in which the drawing was created are evident, a characteristic of Rembrandt's process. Over the first light sketch Rembrandt has not only added strong lines and accents to improve the forms, but he has also shaded the figure almost completely, leaving only the hands without hatching.
    While in the full-length drawing one continuous line indicates the eyebrows, on the sheet the nose and downcast eyes have been carefully rendered and shaded, while strong shading has been introduced to the right of the head to indicate the deeper, dark areas. In this way the position of the head bending forward has been more clearly indicated. In the curly hair the different phases can also be detected, while in some places the paper has been left untouched to create areas of light.
    Most interesting is the representation of the hands at work, as if they are depicted in motion. As in the full-length drawing the contours of the arms have been strongly strengthened and the lines below the hands at the bottom of the sheet, indicate the same, unclear form.
    Light falling from the left creates some shadow on the right side of his face and shoulder. Characteristic of both drawings are the rather angular forms with which the figure has been represented. Most black chalk drawings are sketchier and have been done with finer, livelier lines and with less strong accents.
    Regarding the dating of the drawing, the resemblance to some sketches from the early 1650s seems to indicate a similar date for the present sheet and the one sold in 2003. The drawing of Four men in discussion, (O. Benesch, The Drawings of Rembrandt, IV, London, 1973, no. 714), dated to the early 1650s owing to a connection with two etchings of 1652 and 1654, both representing Christ among the Doctors (B. 65 and B. 64), shares a similar angularity of line, although with a finer character. Benesch also dated three drawings of seated men (op. cit., nos. 1074-1076) to the early 1650s, and these are very close to the two drawings from the same model, having the same bold character with similar angular forms. The two drawings illustrate Rembrandt's interest in depictions of the same motif in different ways, firstly the figure as a whole and secondly 'zoomed in' on the upper part of the man.
    We are grateful to Dr. Peter Schatborn for providing the above catalogue note.


    J.P. Heseltine (L. 1508).
    Anonymous sale; Christie's, New York, 10 January 1990, lot 182 (as attributed to Rembrandt), where acquired by the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text



    J.P. Heseltine, Collection of Dutch Drawings, 1910, no. 29 (titled Study of a man holding a bag and as by Gerard Terborch).
    W. Sumowski, 'Rembrandt Zeichnungen', Pantheon, XXIX, 1971, pp. 129-32, fig. 9 (by Rembrandt).