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    Sale 11965

    Fifty Prints by Rembrandt van Rijn A Private English Collection

    5 July 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 32

    Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

    The Star of the Kings: a Night Piece

    Price Realised  


    Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
    The Star of the Kings: a Night Piece
    etching with touches of drypoint, circa 1652, on laid paper, with an indistinct watermark fragment, a brilliant impression of New Hollstein's first state (of four), printing with remarkable clarity and bright highlights, with considerable burr in the lantern, without any wear, with small margins, in excellent condition
    Plate 94 x 142 mm., Sheet 101 x 152 mm.

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    Equally daring as Saint Jerome in a dark Chamber (lot 25) in its depiction of darkness, this etching shows a little street scene during an Epiphany-procession in Amsterdam. On 6 January, to celebrate the Adoration of the Magi, groups of children and grown-ups would walk through the city at night, singing and collecting small gifts. As a reference to the Star of Bethlehem that led the three kings to the stable, each group would carry a star-shaped lantern. We can see such a group in the foreground, partially lit by the lantern. Another lantern shines far in the background, and a few windows are dimly lit from inside the houses.  The rest of the scene disappears in almost complete darkness. We can only vaguely discern the figures in the foreground, the outlines of the houses and rather guess than see that the distant lantern is on a bridge above a canal. As so often, Rembrandt doesn’t ‘depict’ the scene as much as making us experience it for ourselves, as if we are part of this nocturnal procession – an effect that only fine, early impressions can convey.

    The present impression is very similar in quality to the Cracherode impression in the British Museum, which is however on rather toned paper and trimmed.


    Pierre Mariette II (1634-1716), Paris, with his ink inscription verso, dated 1682 (Lugt 1789).
    The Carlyon Family, Tregrehan House, Cornwall.
    With Colnaghi, London (their stock number R. 549 in pencil verso); bought from the above in 1958.
    Acquired from the above, 10 June 1960 (£50).


    Bartsch, Hollstein 113; Hind 254; New Hollstein 263 (I/4).