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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

The Flight into Egypt: Altered from Seghers (B., Holl. 56; H. 266)

Details
Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
The Flight into Egypt: Altered from Seghers (B., Holl. 56; H. 266)
etching with engraving and drypoint, circa 1635, watermark Strasburg Lily (cf. A. & F., p. 190, A.b.), a very good impression of the sixth state (of seven), the vertical line in the sky printing strongly, with margins, an inconspicuous pen and ink inscription in the margin at lower right, otherwise in very good condition
(FPR 29)
P. 214 x 284 mm; S. 225 x 295 mm.
Provenance
The British Museum (duplicate) (L. 300 & 305)
Gustav von Rath (L. 2772)
Dr. Otto Schäfer (not in Lugt)
Sotheby's, London, 1 December 1994, lot 122
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No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

Lot Essay

This work is unique in Rembrandt's oeuvre, and represents an extraordinary act of respect and admiration of one artist for another. Hercules Seghers (circa 1590-circa 1638) was a highly individualistic artist and experimental printmaker about whom comparatively little is known. His barren mountain landscapes have an ethereal, other-worldly character quite at odds with those by most of his contemporaries. Rembrandt was known to have been not only an admirer of his work (the bankruptcy inventory shows he possessed eight paintings by him), it is clear that he was influenced by Seghers technically - from Seghers' example he learned the full potential of the etched line.

Here he has taken Seghers' plate of Tobias and the Angel and completely re-worked the right-hand half, replacing both figures and altering the background. It was a time-consuming and painstaking process that evolved over no fewer than seven states. The remains of the angel's wings can be seen in the trees at the upper left in lines sloping diagonally down from left to right.

It is interesting to compare the two artists' treatment of trees - Rembrandt's fluid style contrasting with Seghers minutely observed tress on the adjacent hill. His broader style did not prevent him from admiring some of the details produced by Seghers' meticulous technique, and he carefully preserved the little lizard in the lower centre throughout the seven states.
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