[John 2: 13-17]
Etching, with touches of drypoint: 13,8 x 17 cm, thread margins
Signed and dated lower right: Rembrandt. f. 1635
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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.
The composition of the famous Biblical episode, Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple (John 2:15), is based on a painting that Rembrandt made ten years earlier when he was only 19, which is now in the Pushkin Museum, Moscow. Its composition revolves around Christ’s hand holding the whip in the centre of the picture. The raised hand is bathed in light, Christ’s face almost hidden in shadow. The figure is borrowed from Albrecht Durer’s woodcut of the same subject, in the Small Woodcut Passion series (c. 1508), although Rembrandt has reversed the pose. His prints from this period show a predominantly linear style, characterised by a vigorous calligraphic energy that reinforces the violent movement of the subject. The point of Rembrandt’s etching-needle seems to weave the image from a continuous thread, with lines that loop sinuously back and forth like the thongs of Christ’s whip, leading the viewer from one part of the scene to another.
The cleansing of the Temple narrative tells of Jesus expelling the merchants and the money changers from the Temple, and is recounted in all four canonical gospels of the New Testament. The scene is a common motif in Christian art.
In this account, Jesus and his disciples travel to Jerusalem for Passover, where Jesus expels the merchants and consumers from the temple, accusing them of turning it into “a den of thieves” (in the Synoptic Gospels) and “a house of trade” (in Gospel of John) through their commercial activities.
Bartsch 69; The New Hollstein Dutch 139 first state of IV ;
Plate in existence at Museé Jenisch Vevey in Switzerland (inv. DK-r-23)
with Nowell-Usticke (1967): C2
A brilliant, early, dark impression with strong contrasts and with burr on Christ’s robe and aura, in the cross-hatched area below the cow’s head, on the robe and turban of the priest holding the staff and on the tiny heads of the onlookers at the window upper center, consistent with the earliest impressions of this subject