The subject of the lion hunt was one that Rembrandt revisited three times; the present etching is arguably the most dramatic and dynamic of them all. Possibly showing a scene towards the end of the hunt, one cornered lioness sinks its teeth and claws into an unfortunate rider who has been unseated from his rearing horse, while in the foreground a second lion glowers menacingly, preparing to attack the rider who has his spear raised, likewise going for the kill. Rembrandt leaves us to ponder the final result. His swift, sketch-like lines and extreme contrasts are perfectly matched to the violent, tumultuous scene, and the work is testament to his skill at capturing all the unfolding drama on a relatively small plate.
The present lot is the first of eleven works in the sale that come from the Carlyon Family, based at Tregrehan House in Cornwall since 1565. After the death of Tristram Carlyon (1877-1957), a sizeable Rembrandt collection was sold to Colnaghi’s, where instead of the usual stock number beginning with the letter ‘C’ they were distinguished with an ‘R’ followed by a number. For a list of other works with this provenance please refer to the appendix in the back of the catalogue.
The present impression compares favourably to the Cracherode, Smith and Salting impressions in the British Museum.