[Luke 24: 13 – 31]
Etching and drypoint: 10,7 x 7,9 cm
signed and dated lower centre: ‘Rembrandt. f. 1634’
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During his lifetime, Rembrandt’s extraordinary skills as a printmaker were the main source of his international fame. Unlike his oil paintings, prints travelled light and were relatively cheap. For this reason, they soon became very popular with collectors not only within, but also beyond the borders of the Netherlands.
This etching is always subtitled ‘the smaller plate’ to distinguish it from ‘the larger plate’ of 20 years later (1654) which depicts a near identical theme. The subject, with its dramatic potential, was a favourite of baroque artists.
In this earlier work, Rembrandt conveyed the scene as a rather ordinary event. The three men encircle a small table while a hungry dog begs for scraps, ignoring the bare bone beside him. But the theatrically drawn drape in the upper left suggests that this is not simply a scene of everyday life. The rays of light emanating from Christ’s head and the billowing of his garments as if an internal source of energy is radiating outwards convey that this is an exceptional moment.
What was that moment? After he rose from the dead, Christ appeared alongside two disciples who were heading to Emmaus, the two other men depicted in the etching. They didn’t initially recognise him but invited him to supper at an inn. When he broke the bread – in the fashion of the Last Supper – recognition dawned on the disciples (Luke 24.30-32) and he thereupon disappeared.
Bartsch 88; White/Boon 88;
The New Hollstein Dutch 129, First and only state ;
Nowell-Usticke R+: ‘A scarce plate’.
Plate not in existence.
On laid paper, without watermark, with small to thread margins,.