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The Three Trees

The Three Trees
etching with engraving and drypoint, 1643, on laid paper, watermark Strasbourg Bend (Hinterding C-a), a superb impression of this highly important subject, printing very richly and darkly, with intense contrasts and selectively wiped highlights, with burr, the sulphur tinting in the sky very pronounced, trimmed on or to the platemark, in very good condition
Sheet 221 x 280 mm.
John H. Wrenn (1841-1911), Chicago (Lugt 1475); then by descent.
Edward G. Kennedy (1849-1932), New York (Lugt 857).
With Kennedy Galleries, New York (with their stocknumber a 32546 in pencil verso).
With Pace Editions, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Bartsch, Hollstein 212; Hind 205; New Hollstein 214
Cynthia P. Schneider, Rembrandts Landscapes Drawings and Prints, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (exh. cat)., 1990, no. 75, p. 240-42 (another impression illustrated).
Erik Hinterding, Rembrandt Etchings from the Frits Lugt Collection, Fondation Custodia, Paris, 2008, no. 167, p. 390-93 (another impression illustrated).
Nicholas Stogdon, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Etchings by Rembrandt in a Private Collection, Switzerland, privately printed , 2011, no. 93, p. 158-9 (another impression illustrated).
Special notice
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

The Three Trees is one of the most celebrated and memorable landscapes in the history of western art. It is immensely pleasurable to let one's eye wander from the dark shadowy foreground across the plain to the distant skyline of the city and the edge of the shimmering sea beyond, and to pick out all the minute detail along the way: the pair of lovers, almost invisibly hidden in the thicket beneath the hill at right, the heron as it just flies out of the tree, the cowherd standing on the plain, the wagon moving along the crest of the hill, and the draftsman seated on the top, looking towards and sketching a landscape we cannot see, and many others.
Yet the true subject of the print is not so much the panorama itself, nor the allegorically charged three trees, which can be read as a reference to the Three Crosses of the Crucifixion. More than anything else, the weather is the real protagonist of Rembrandt's print. As a portrayal of meteorological phenomena, it prompts comparisons with Giorgione's Tempesta, or even with the rain and snow images of the Japanese ukiyo-e-masters. What makes this print so engaging is the spectacle of the thunder storm as it rises over the landscape in summer, still partly basked in sunlight, but soon to be covered in clouds and drenched in rain.
Rembrandt employed every printmaking technique available to him - etching, engraving, drypoint and sulphur tinting - on this plate to create the most complex and painterly of all his landscape prints.
The present impression is outstanding for the intense contrasts between the shaded foreground and the black storm clouds rushing in from the left, and the selectively wiped, sunlit areas on the hill and in the distant landscape. The vigourously engraved lines, etched clouds and the sulphur tinting in the sky are remarkably strong and dark, lending the scene a heightened sense of drama and tension.

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