[Matthew 2: 14-15]
Etching and drypoint: 12,7 x 11 cm
signed and dated lower right: ‘Rembrandt f. 1651 (the 6 in reverse)’
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The first six states are all still lifetime impressions. Later states are according to the New Hollstein not by Rembrandt. The nose of the donkey is covered by light cross hatching, and so are Joseph’s right hand and sleeve. A few vertical lines added to the lower areas of the two lighter parts of the lantern, as well as to Joseph’s coat at the level of the lantern. Also diagonal cross hatching added to Joseph’s chest.
By the light of Joseph’s lantern, the Holy Family journeys through a nighttime landscape (Matthew 2:13-15). In the 1650s Rembrandt created a number of night pieces-dark prints that allowed him to explore the various ways in which single sources of light illuminate otherwise pitch-black scenes. In this earliest experiment in creating dark prints, Rembrandt left ink on the surface of the printing plate, as though he were painting the etched copper plate anew with each impression. As a result, he created impressions of the same print that are unique in their treatment of light and dark. Here, the Virgin atop the mule is bathed in shadow, yet she stands out against an inky black landscape; Joseph steps through a play of shadows created by the brilliance of the lantern, the windows of which are the only spot where Rembrandt allowed the original white of the paper to remain visible.
As one of the towering figures in the history of art, Rembrandt, a miller’s son from the university town of Leiden, was an artist of unmatched genius. Equally gifted as a painter, printmaker, and draftsman, Rembrandt proved himself to be as skillful at making portraits as he was at creating religious and mythological narratives. His landscapes are just as remarkable as his rare still lifes and subjects detailing everyday life.
Widely recognized as the greatest practitioner of the etching technique in the history of art, Rembrandt created 300 prints that constitute a body of work unparalleled in richness and beauty. 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.
Bartsch 53; Hind 53;
The New Hollstein Dutch 262: sixth state (of 10).
Plate in existence – with Nowell-Usticke (1967): C2
A superb and rich impression of New Hollstein’s sixth state of ten, trimmed on or just outside the plate mark, in great condition, the sheet inlaid to card (the verso still visible), with scattered paper fibres verso.