Self-Portrait leaning on a Stone Sill

Self-Portrait leaning on a Stone Sill
etching with touches of drypoint
on laid paper, without watermark
a very fine impression of this famous and important self-portrait
second, final state
printing very sharply, with great clarity and contrasts
with thread margins
some pale grey wash at the sheet edges, a few tiny touches of wash elsewhere
in good condition
Plate 206 x 163 mm.
Sheet 208 x 165 mm.
Probably Joseph Vallette (d. 1807), The Hague (see Lugt 2478a, with initials I.J.V or J.J.V in pencil verso); his posthumous sale, experts P. van der Schley, J. de Bosch, J. Yver, C. S. Roos and J. de Vries, Amsterdam, 26 October 1807, lot 22 (Fl. 18; to Josi).
Christiaan Josi (1768-1828), Amsterdam and London (without mark, see Lugt 573); his posthumous sale, Christie's, London, 18-21 March 1829, lot 44 (' Very Brilliant Impression') (£ 2.2; to Seguier).
William Seguier (1771-1843), London, First Conservator of the Royal & National Galleries (without mark, Lugt 2277), acquired at the above sale; his posthumous sale, Christie's, London, 29 April - 3 May 1844, lot 229 (£ 2.12; to Smith).
With W. & G. Smith, London, acquired at the above sale.
Charles Sackville Bale (1791-1880), London (Lugt 640); his posthumous sale, 9-14 June 1881, lot 2591 (£ 42; to Thibaudeau).
With Alphonse Wyatt-Thibaudeau (circa 1840 - circa 1892), Paris and London (without mark, see Lugt 2473).
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), London and Arlesford (Lugt 1227); his sale, Sotheby's, London, 15-19 June 1891, lot 357 (£ 91; to Danlos).
With Danlos, Paris.
Alfred Hubert (1831-1908), Paris (Lugt 130); probably acquired from the above; his posthumous sale, Danlos, Paris, 25-29 May 1909, lot 649 ('Superbe épreuve. Col.on Seymour-Haden') (Fr. 8,900; to Keppel).
With Frederick Keppel & Co., New York (their code EHOX.EV in pencil verso).
Albert William Scholle (1860-1917), San Francisco and New York (Lugt 2923a).
With Kennedy Galleries, New York (their stock number a60537 in pencil verso).
General Brayton Ives (1840-1914), Farmington, Conn. and New York (without mark and not in Lugt); his posthumous sale, Thomas E. Kirby, American Art Association, New York, Catalogue of the masterpieces of engraving and etching: collected by the late General Brayton Ives, 12-14 April 1915, lot 716 ('...One of the very finest impressions in existence... from the Beham [sic], F. S. Haden and Alfred Hubert Collections'). ($ 3,300; to Hahlo).
With Harlow & Co., New York
Harris Whittemore (1864-1927), Naugatuck, Conn. (Lugt 1384a); then by descent.
With David Tunick, New York (with his code DTTAMKHHH in pencil verso); on consignment from an heir of the above.
Sam Josefowitz (Lugt 6094); acquired from the above in 1993; then by descent to the present owners.
Bartsch, Hollstein 21; Hind 168; New Hollstein 171 (this impression cited)
Stogdon 2
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Art in New England: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, from Private Collections in New England, 1939, no. 251, p. 128.

Brought to you by

Tim Schmelcher
Tim Schmelcher International Specialist

Lot Essay

Few artists depicted themselves as regularly as Rembrandt. Possibly unique in European art, he painted himself at least forty times, and etched no fewer than 31 self-portraits in a printmaking career that stretched over four decades. In 1639, aged 34, Rembrandt created the largest – and grandest - of his self-portraits in print, Self-Portrait leaning on a Stone Sill. It is offered here in a magnificent example of the second state. Only 17 impressions of the first state are known, and although several of these show pen and ink additions by the artist, he in the end made only a tiny correction to the band of the beret in the second state. The two states must have been made in quick succession, and although the present sheet has no watermark to prove it, the quality of this impression leaves little doubt that this is very early. Even the finest lines, in the hair and the pentimenti around the beret print with absolute clarity, and the subtle modulations of light and shade, in the face, the hair and in the sumptuous garments, are perfectly articulated, lending the image a great presence and sense of three-dimensionality.
Sumptuously dressed in 16th century fashion and with the luxurious folds of his sleeve draped over the wall in the foreground, his pose emulates both Titian’s Portrait of Gerolamo (?) Barbarigo of circa 1510 (National Gallery, London, inv. no. NG 1944) and Raphael’s Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione, 1515 (Musée du Louvre, Paris, inv. no. 611). Rembrandt knew both paintings, and had made a drawing after Raphael’s portrait in the same year, when it was sold as part of the estate of Lucas van Uffelen. It was then bought by the diplomat Alfonso Lopez, and remained in Amsterdam, together with the portrait by Titian, which Lopez also owned. By associating himself with two of the greatest painters of the Italian Renaissance, he not only placed himself in their tradition, he also presented himself as the young, fashionable artist of the day. In the same year he made this flamboyant self-portrait, 1639, he bought the large house on Sint Antoniesbreestraat (today's Rembrandthuis) right next to Hendrick van Uylenburgh’s house, where his career in Amsterdam had begun. Within a few years’ time, his fortunes were to change: Saskia would die of tuberculosis, his painting style would fall out of favour with the wealthiest patrons, his own pupils secured the contracts he failed to receive, and the repayments for the house became unaffordable. But now he was at the height of his success and received commissions from the rich burghers of Amsterdam and the court in The Hague. He was the most celebrated artist in the Netherlands, and the future looked bright.
It is interesting to note that, even in a portrait as staged and calculated as the Self-Portrait leaning on a Stone Sill Rembrandt allowed – perhaps cherished – an element of spontaneity or accident: he did not, when working on the second state of the plate, remove the pentimenti on the outline of the cap, nor did he make any attempt to further elaborate or remove the undefined scribbles in the lower right of the image.
The provenance of the present sheet goes back to the early 19th century, and includes some very esteemed Rembrandt collectors: Christiaan Josi, William Seguier, and the artist Seymour Haden, amongst others.

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