Lot Content

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

Sheet with two Studies: A Tree, and the upper Part of the Head of the Artist wearing a Velvet Cap (B., Holl. 372; H. 155)

Details
Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
Sheet with two Studies: A Tree, and the upper Part of the Head of the Artist wearing a Velvet Cap (B., Holl. 372; H. 155)
etching, circa 1642, without watermark, a fine impression of this exceptionally rare print, with margins, some pale foxing mainly in the margins, a tiny rust spot with an associated pinhole in the upper left margin, otherwise in good condition
P. 77 x 67 mm., S. 92 x 80 mm.
Provenance
Paul Davidsohn (b. 1839), Berlin (L. 654); his sale C. G. Boerner, 26-29 April 1921, lot 281 ('Eines der seltensten Blätter im Werke des Meisters in einem Abdruck von grösster Schönheit und Frische. Mit 6-7 mm. breitem Rand.')(est. Mk 3000).

Brought to you by

charlie Scott
charlie Scott

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

Condition Report

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

Various study prints (B. 363-374) by Rembrandt are evidence that throughout his career he was inclined to treat the copper plate in a very unconventional manner, with multiple figures or subjects scattered seemingly at random across the plate. These prints look very much like study sheets from a sketchbook, recording ideas and attempts for practice or future use. Rembrandt certainly had a liking for seemingly unfinished works, as other prints such as The Artist drawing from a Model (see lot 44) demonstrate. The study prints might be another expression of this particular aesthetic.

There is however a slight mystery with regard to the history of execution and purpose of this particular plate. The fragment of the self-portrait is far more controlled and finer in execution whereas the figure and tree have a looser, more fluid feel. It has been suggested that the self-portrait was on a larger plate which, possibly due to an etching fault, was abandoned. This stylistic difference has led to debate as to the dating of the different pictorial elements: the portrait is certainly very similar in style and subject to the Self-Portrait in a Velvet Cap and Plume (B. 20) of 1638. The tree and little figure on the other hand is reminiscent of The Omval (B. 209) of 1645. One is inclined to imagine Rembrandt in his workshop as he came across the little fragment of his unfinished self-portrait and began to play around with it. Perhaps he thought to create a 'Vexierbild' - an image at once a landscape and a portrait, depending on the way the viewer saw or turned the image - an attempt he then also abandoned.

We will never know the artist's real intensions. We do however know that despite its whimsical charm Rembrandt never printed a proper edition of this print - it is hence a work of greatest rarity. This fine impression compares favourably to the example in the British Museum.

More from Old Master Prints

View All
View All