11,3 x 9,3 cm
"*" indicates required fields
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.
Rembrandt often depicted beggars and ‘cripples’, such as this family on the tramp wearing rather old-fashioned clothing for the time. The peasant woman, rendered with dignity, carries a baby on her back, its little head only just visible. The child being led by the father looks like a young brat. The dominant figure of the peasant himself looks purposeful, even defiant.
A romantic myth about Rembrandt is that he etched so many beggars – more than thirty etchings in all – because he felt alienated from society himself. It is true that he once portrayed himself as a beggar, but he was more attracted to the expressive faces, tattered clothing, and crumpled gait of these “low” subjects. Unusually for the time, Rembrandt gave his beggars real emotions and individualised faces, seemingly intending to stir compassion in his viewers.
This kind of image would have elicited fierce criticism around 1670, at the time of the artist’s death: were such subjects worthy of being rendered? Shouldn’t art by definition portray only beauty? Rembrandt certainly did not subscribe to this view and most people today would take his side.
This impression is the first of three states (the only one by Rembrandt), before the correction of foul-biting on the man’s pack, hat and belt, and before the addition of three short vertical lines to his pack. On the right, overlapping with the man’s stick, a lightly etched first version of his head and hat are visible.
Bartsch 131; Hind 259; White-Boon 131;
‘The New Hollstein Dutch’ (Hinterding/Rutgers), 2013, no. 266, First state of III
Plate in existence in Paris – with Nowell-Usticke (1967): C2
Nice, strong and predominantly even early impression. With small margins around the visible platemark on three sides. The left margin partly with fine margins, partly probably trimmed to the platemark.