The Parisian print dealer Pierre-Francois Basan bought 83 Rembrandt plates from the estate of his fellow dealer Watelet at auction in 1786 and published impressions from them in his now famous Recueil. The publication was just one of several print albums known as L'oeuvre de Basan that contained prints by and after Dutch, Flemish, French, Italian and German masters. Wherever possible Basan used existing copperplates for these Recueils, but if none was available he commissioned new ones. Thus the present work contains copies of virtually unobtainable plates such as the Arnold Tholinx (B. 284). Whilst Rembrandt's etchings had been restored, forged and 'finished' for many years they had never before been brought together in an album and supplemented with copies in order to provide an encyclopedic overview of his work. Eric Hinterding argues that the various Recueils published by Basan should be seen in the light of the more historical approach to art that evolved in the late eighteenth century and reached maturity in the nineteenth century with the emergence of the discipline of art history.
Eric Hinterding, The history of Rembrandt's copperplates, Zwolle (undated).