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

A young man leaning on a stick

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Leiden 1606-1669 Amsterdam)
A young man leaning on a stick
pen and brown ink
5 5/8 x 3 3/8 in. (14.3 x 8.7 cm.)
Private collection, England (according to the 1956 exhibition catalogue).
Probably with Nicolaas Beets (1878-1963), Amsterdam; from whom purchased by I.Q. van Regteren Altena on 30 October 1928 for 1,500 guilders (Inventory book: '529. t. Rembrandt staande man').
K. Bauch, Die Kunst des jungen Rembrandt, Heidelberg, 1933, pp. 28, 122, fig. 124.
O. Benesch, Rembrandt: Werk und Forschung, Vienna, 1935, p. 10.
O. Benesch, The Drawings of Rembrandt, London, 1954, I, no. 27, fig. 28 (as circa 1628-29).
E. Haverkamp Begemann, 'Review: O. Benesch: The Drawings of Rembrandt', Kunstchronik, XIV, 1961, p. 20.
W. Sumowski, 'Unbekannte Rembrandtzeichnungen', Kunstchronik, XV, 1962, p. 274.
O. Benesch, 'Neuentdeckte Zeichnungen von Rembrandt', Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen, VI, 1964, p. 108.
W. Sumowski, 'Rembrandtzeichnungen', Pantheon, XXII, 1964, p. 234.
O. Benesch, Collected Writings, I, 'Rembrandt', London, 1970, p. 248.
O. Benesch, The Drawings of Rembrandt, enlarged and edited by Eva Benesch, London, New York, 1973, no. 27, fig. 32.
P. Schatborn, ‘Papieren kunst van Rembrandt en Lievens’, in Rembrandt en Lievens in Leiden, een jong en edel schildersduo, exhib. cat., Leiden, Museum de Lakenhal, 1991-92, p. 74, fig. 30.
M. Royalton-Kisch, The Drawings of Rembrandt. A revision of Benesch’s catalogue raisonné, 2012 (as '1631') []
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, Rembrandt Tentoonstelling, 1932, no. 224 (catalogue by F. Schmidt-Degener).
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, De Jérôme Bosch à Rembrandt: Dessins Hollandais du XVIe au XVIIe Siècle, 1937-38, no. 78, pl. 11 (catalogue by F. Schmidt-Degener).
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, and Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, Rembrandt tekeningen, 1956, no. 10 (catalogue by J.C. Ebbinge Wubben).
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Paris, Fondation Custodia, and Brussels, Bibliothèque Albert 1er, Le Cabinet d’un Amateur: Dessins flamands et hollandais des XVIe et XVIIe siècles d’une collection privée d’Amsterdam, 1976-77, no. 102, pl. 76 (catalogue by J. Giltaij).
Yokohama, Sogo Museum of Art; Fukuoka, Art Museum; Kyoto, National Museum of Modern Art, Rembrandt and the Bible, 1986-1987, no. 39, illustrated p. 96 (exhibition by C. Brown, E. Haverkamp-Begemann and C. White et al.).
Kassel, Staatliche Museen, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, and Amsterdam, Museum Het Rembrandthuis, The Mystery of the Young Rembrandt, 2001-02, no. 50 (catalogue entry by E. de Heer).

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Lot Essay

This is a characteristic example of the figure drawings which Rembrandt produced during the years he was working in Leiden in his studio at the home of his parents (1625-1631). Most of the drawings from that period show figures, either in pen and brown ink, sometimes with added wash, or in red and black chalk. As Rembrandt wanted to become a history painter he produced these drawings in preparation for paintings and etchings and sometimes as direct preparatory studies for a specific work. He not only drew biblical or mythological figures, but also figures which could serve as bystanders in such works. For that reason he produced drawings of ordinary people: men, women and couples. He was also intrigued by beggars and in this respect he was influenced by a series of prints published in 1622 by the French engraver Jacques Callot (1592-1635) under the title Les Gueux. One of these (Lieure 484; Fig. 1) shows a man with a stick warming his hands, and in character and style it shows some similarities with Rembrandt’s figure drawings. Rembrandt also started to produce etchings of similar subjects, the earliest being from around 1629, like the Beggar in a tall hat (New Hollstein, 'Rembrandt', no. 16; Fig. 2), This drawing could have served as one of the exercises in preparing these prints, even if it is not a direct preparatory drawing. A date of around 1629 would seem appropriate.

The style of the drawing shows Rembrandt’s extremely personal approach to the rendering of form and chiaroscuro. The figure has been represented with loose and broken lines, which leave black spaces and create darker accents, as seen here on the right, since the light falls from the left. Although scarcely any precise description has been produced, apart from the face, the sketchy rendering creates a convincing sense of plasticity and the form is suggested in a very personal, lively way.

We are grateful to both Peter Schatborn and Martin Royalton-Kisch for confirming the attribution on the basis of first-hand examination of the drawing.

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