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    Sale 11965

    Fifty Prints by Rembrandt van Rijn A Private English Collection

    5 July 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 21

    Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

    The Windmill

    Price Realised  


    Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
    The Windmill
    etching with touches of drypoint, 1641, on thin laid paper, without watermark, a very fine impression of New Hollstein's only state, the distant landscape printing very clearly, the sulphur tinting and craquelure in the sky very pronounced, and without any wear in the dense shadows at lower left, with thread margins, a small ink stain verso showing through faintly at the left centre sheet edge, otherwise in very good condition
    Plate 145 x 209 mm., Sheet 146 x 211 mm.

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    Without much evidence at all and probably out of romantic sentiment, the windmill depicted here was long thought to be Rembrandt’s birthplace at Katwijk; he was indeed the son of a miller. In 1915 however Frits Lugt identified the building as the ‘Little Stink Mill’ on De Passeerder bulwark outside of Amsterdam, presumably called thus because it was used for the production and treatment of leather, processes which produced notoriously bad smells.

    This being one of Rembrandt’s most-loved etchings and an image of a quintessentially Dutch building type, it is easy to overlook Rembrandt’s precise description of the construction and mechanics of the mill and the anecdotal elements, such as the little figure of the miller about to climb the stairs into the mill with a sack on his back and the woman, possibly washing clothes, in front of the house.

    Apart from being a lovingly detailed ‘portrait’ of a building, Rembrandt also took great interest in the atmospheric qualities of the scenery: the wide empty flatlands to the right, put into perspective by the two tiny figures standing on the dyke; the deep, dank shadows under the platform of the mill; and the cloudy, windswept sky indicated by the irregular tone, probably created with sulphur tint. The craquelure, very pronounced in this impression, may well be accidental and caused by cracks in the etching ground. Yet somehow – and despite the fact that it is not descriptive of any natural weather effects - it adds to the atmosphere and lends a certain heaviness to the sky.

    The present impression is very comparable to the Slade impression and just a little stronger than the Cracherode impression in the British Museum.


    The Carlyon Family, Tregrehan House, Cornwall.
    With Colnaghi, London (their stock number R. 621 in pencil verso); bought from the above in 1958.
    Acquired from the above, 2 March 1964 (£1800).


    Bartsch, Hollstein 233; Hind 179; New Hollstein 200 (only state).