• Old Master Prints auction at Christies

    Sale 7781

    Old Master Prints

    8 December 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 65

    Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

    A View of Amsterdam from the North West (B., Holl. 210; H. 176)

    Price Realised  


    Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
    A View of Amsterdam from the North West (B., Holl. 210; H. 176)
    etching, circa 1640, watermark Foolscap with a five-pointed Collar (Hinterding K.a.b.), a very fine impression, rich and black in the foreground, with small areas of tone in the densely worked areas, and with great clarity in the distance, trimmed on or just inside the platemark, a tiny line of blue pigment in the sky at left, generally in very good condition, framed
    S. 111 x 154 mm.

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    This is thought to be Rembrandt's first landscape etching and might well have been drawn on a prepared plate en plein air, with details added later back in his studio. The low viewpoint and his ratio of sky to land reflect his debt to the panoramas of Jan van Goyen, Salomon van Ruysdael and Hercules Seghers.

    The viewpoint on the Kadijk, which ran up the north-eastern edge of the city, was only a short walk from his house on the St. Anthoniesbreestraat. The representation is not painstakingly accurate, but balances an atmospheric approach with strict veracity. The order of the buildings is faithfully recorded, but their heights and positions have been adjusted.

    If this is indeed his first landscape then an obvious but unanswerable question arises: Why did the artist wait until the age of 35 to produce it - particularly when he had such a facility with the genre?

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