Landscape with a Milkman has been described by Christopher White as 'one of the most perfect representations of the scenery around Amsterdam.' (C. White, Rembrandt as an Etcher, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, p. 236).
In the early 1650's Rembrandt began to use drypoint for integral parts of his compositions, in particular in his landscapes. While in earlier prints he had only added accents in drypoint to what were essentially complete, etched compositions, with Landscape with the Milkman 'Rembrandt first succeeded in thoroughly integrating drypoint and etching in his landscape prints' (C. Schneider, Rembrandt’s Landscapes, Drawings and Prints, no. 23, p. 120).
This fine impression on Japan paper of the third, final state, wonderfully conveys the contrasting elements of water, sky and land characteristic of the views seen from the Diemerdijk, east of Amsterdam. The burr is very subtle, creating foliage and windswept grasses, effects of dappled shade beneath the trees and reflections in the pond, as well as delineating the figure of the milkman and his dog. Both Schneider and White suggest that Rembrandt actually scraped away some of the burr present in the first state, in which the drypoint is somewhat overbearing, in order to improve the legibility of the scene. The hilly high ground to the left of the cottages is a fanciful addition completely uncharacteristic of the locality; a device which harmonizes the composition by extending the distant shoreline of the river IJ on the right. This is characteristic of Rembrandt’s approach to landscape in which artistic invention is elevated over topographical accuracy.
Impressions of Landscape with a Milkman are relatively rare at auction, with only 14 impressions, according to our research, having been offered in the last 25 years.