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

“Christ Preaching (‘La Petite Tombe’)”

etching and drypoint, with narrow margins. watermark: Arms of Amsterdam watermark (Ash/Fletcher 1, they date most impressions of various subjects by Rembrandt with this watermark from the 1650s).
155 x 208 mm
ca. 1657
More info

Bartsch 67; Seidlitz 67; Hind 256; White-Boon 67,
The New Hollstein Dutch no. 298, 1st state (of II), before the Watelet retouching.
Plate may be in existence – with Colnaghi in 1830.

Notes 

In this print Rembrandt revisits the theme of his magnum opus, the so-called Hundred
Guilder Print of ca. 1648 (Bartsch 74). This smaller, condensed version is one of the artist’s
most balanced compositions. It has a classical serenity that has led scholars to point to the
influence of Raphael’s Vatican fresco of Parnassus. Martin Royalton-Kisch notes that in
1652 Rembrandt sketched a version of Raphael’s work, well-known at the time through
reproductive prints, in the album amicorum of his friend Jan Six.

After establishing the overall scheme with a straightforward combination of horizontal
and vertical elements, the artist enriched the details and atmospheric effects by going over
the etched plate with a drypoint needle, thereby creating a lively “dialogue between clean
etched lines and velvety drypoint lines fringed with rich burr” (Clifford Ackley in cat.
Boston/Chicago, p. 208).

The Petite Tombe has traditionally been dated to ca. 1652. Based on his watermark research
Erik Hinterding now proposes an execution date of ca. 1657 (cf. The New Hollstein:
Rembrandt. Text, vol. 2, p. 270).

Its somewhat confusing title was introduced by Gersaint in 1751 and later misunderstood
as making reference to the “little tomb” on which Christ supposedly stands. In fact, this
title refers back to Clement de Jonghe’s inventory where it is listed as “Latombisch
plaatjen” (La Tombe’s little plate), a reference to Nicholas La Tombe who might have
commissioned the work. Members of the La Tombe family are noted in documents
relating to Rembrandt dating to between 1650 and 1658 (cf. Martin Royalton-Kisch in cat.
Amsterdam/London, pp. 280f., no. 68 and Clifford Ackley in cat. Boston, p. 208, note 6).

Provenance

From a private American collection;
From a private Dutch collection.

Condition

A superb, richly-inked “white sleeve” impression with very strong contrasts and no sign
of wear, with burr on the robe of the man with his back turned lower left and on the
diagonal shading below his feet.

Literature

Erik Hinterding, Ger Luijten, and Martin Royalton-Kisch (eds.), Rembrandt the Printmaker,
exhibition catalogue, Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam/British Museum, London, 2000–
01, no. 68
Clifford S. Ackley et al. (eds.), Rembrandt’s Journey: Painter, Draftsman, Etcher, exhibition
catalogue, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Art Institute of Chicago, 2003–04, nos. 136f.

 

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