Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
(Leiden 1606-1669 Amsterdam)

“Beggar seated on a bank”, 1630

etching: 13,2 x 8,6 mm; with wide margins

signed with monogram and dated: RHL 1630

 

Bartsch 174; White/Boon 174;

The New Hollstein Dutch 50, first state (of II),

Plate not in existence – with Nowell-Usticke (1967): R

 

Notes

Printed prior to the reduction of the plate, showing the two horizontal scratches on the man’s right foot.  Trimmed down to the platemark on all four sides, otherwise in excellent condition. Catalogue reference: Bartsch 174; Hind 11; Biorklund-Barnard 30-B; Usticke 174 i/ii; New Hollstein 50 i/ii.

A work that confronts the complicated relationship between what we know of historical seventeenth-century social attitudes and what Rembrandt depicts is the 1630 etching of A Beggar Seated on a Bank, in which the beggar in the ragged cloak and scraggly beard, with open hand extended, has Rembrandt’s own features.  Its distinctive self-portrait character is made more vivid when it compared with another etching of an anonymous beggar of about 1630 (Beggar Seated Warming his Hands at a Chafing Dish, Bartsch 173) in which a seated vagabond with a stick and bundle warms his chilled hands over a dish of coals.  Rembrandt’s expression, with contracted brow and open mouth, is similar to that seen in one of the small emotive self-portraits of the same year (Self Portrait Open Mouthed, as if Shouting, B. 13).  This extraordinary bit of role-playing need not necessarily be taken as signifying a Christ-like identification on Rembrandt’s part with the beggar’s lot, but should perhaps be viewed – Rembrandt had a robust sense of visual humor – as a good, if inside, joke.  The twenty-four-year-old artist was not yet fully established and could use some financial assistance!

Provenance

  • Ex coll. Roltz, inscribed and dated in pen and ink verso 1693. Gr. R 3347. F.0 20 (not in Lugt);
  • with Colnaghi, their stock number C. 11972 in pencil verso;
  • with Arthur H. Harlow & Co., New York, according to a label on the frame.
  • Sotheby’s London ;
  • Private collection, The Netherlands

 

Literature

  • Holm Bevers/Peter Schatborn/Barbara Welzel, Rembrandt: the Master & his Workshop, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 1991, fig. 3a, p. 174 (ill.);
  • Christopher White & Quentin Buvelot, Rembrandt by himself, National Gallery Publications Limited, London, 1999, no. 24, p. 129 (ill.);
  • Erik Hinterding/Ger Luijten/Martin Royalton-Kisch, Rembrandt the Printmaker, Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, Chicago & London, 2000, no. 6, p. 93 (ill.);
  • Clifford S. Ackley, Rembrandt’s Journey: Painter-Draftsman-Etcher, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 2003, no. 25, p. 91 (ill.);
  • Gary Schwartz, The Rembrandt Book, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 2006, no. 483, p. 289 (ill.);
  • Erik Hinterding, Rembrandt Etchings from the Frits Lugt Collection, Thoth Publishers, Bussum, 2008, no. 141, vo. II p. 158 (ill.).

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