Woman sitting half dressed beside a Stove

Woman sitting half dressed beside a Stove
etching, engraving and drypoint
on Japan paper
a very fine, atmospheric impression of this rare print
third state (of seven)
printing clearly, with strong contrasts and selectively wiped plate tone
with thread margins on three sides, a partial thread margin or trimmed just inside the platemark below
in very good condition
Plate 220 x 187 mm.
Sheet 223 x 188 mm.
Probably Nathaniel Smith (1740/41- circa 1809), London (without mark, see Lugt 2296); his posthumous sale, Thomas Dodd, London, 26 April 1809 (and following days), lot 966 (with a drawing of the first state).
Unidentified, half cut number in brown ink verso (not in Lugt, probably related to the above).
Christie's, London, The Property of a Gentleman, 2-3 July 1992, lot 191 (£60,500).
Sam Josefowitz (Lugt 6094; on the support sheet recto); acquired at the above sale, then by descent to the present owners.
Bartsch, Hollstein 197; Hind 296; New Hollstein 307 (this impression cited)
Stogdon 82

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Tim Schmelcher
Tim Schmelcher International Specialist

Lot Essay

The Woman sitting half dressed beside a Stove is one of the great treasures of the Josefowitz Collection and an extreme rarity on the market. Half domestic genre scene, half study of a female nude, is one of the most atmospheric of Rembrandt's prints. In its stillness and meticulous treatment of light and shade, it brings to mind the interiors of Jan Vermeer or Pieter de Hooch.
Tom Rassieur's description of this print leaves nothing to add:
‘From 1658 to 1661, the female nude was the primary theme in Rembrandt’s printmaking. His production of etchings had dwindled, but of his ten plates from this period, six were of women partially or fully undressed… Although Rembrandt’s nudes vary from unadorned realism to tantalizing fantasy, all appear to have been based on direct observation of the model. Their glowing tonal warmth and dreamy sensuality has caused these nudes to be likened to those of Titian, but Rembrandt’s are distinguished by their touching reality and vulnerability.
In Woman sitting half dressed beside a Stove, the largest of Rembrandt's printed studies of the human body, we see a semblance of the setting in which modeling sessions occurred. Here a woman has disrobed to the waist and sits near a ceramic tile stove to stay warm. She sits on the edge of an upholstered chair. Her left leg is extended, and her right one bends back at the knee. She leans slightly to her right, supporting herself with her arm. Her hands clutch garments that she has removed. On the floor beside the chair is a foot warmer, an earthenware bowl filled with coals and placed in a wooden housing with a perforated top. Her bare torso is turned partially toward us, but she retains a degree of privacy, her inclined head turned away in profile. Her hair is gathered beneath a large white cap. Rembrandt set off the bright contours of her arm, face, and cap against the shadows of the background. He accentuated the contrast by framing her upper body with the darkened recess of a niche behind her. In the first two states, the left side of the niche was undefined, but here in the third state he settled on an asymmetrical form, arched on the right but square on the left. As Rembrandt worked on the plate, he composed a symphony of forms and tones: angles and curves play off one another, while the handling of light varies from seamless modulation to sharp contrasts between dark and light. Every nuance is lovingly described: the light reflected from her arm brightens ever so slightly the shadow on the darker side of her body. Rembrandt charged the plate with ink and selected heavy, dark cream-colored Japanese paper that suggests the color and texture of the model's flesh and skin. The pensive, meditative mood of the image invites the viewer to linger over it, allowing the full array of Rembrandt's magical spectrum of light and shadow to enter the imagination and work its spell.’ (Thomas E. Rassieur, in: Ackley, 2003, p. 285).

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