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

“The Rat Catcher”

etching and drypoint, complete with borderline, trimmed along the plate edges.
141 x 127 mm
monogrammed and dated: RHL 1632 (the last two numbers in reverse)
More info

Bartsch 121; Hind 97; White Boon no. 121, III The New Hollstein NHD111(Hinterding/Rutgers) no. three (of III).;

On paper with the watermark “Foolscap”

Plate is not in existence. There are no late impressions. In Nowell-Usticke (1967): R

Notes

This print is very detailed and in excellent condition.

The third state is the only available, as the first and second were trial impressions and only three are
known in Dresden, Paris and London. The print was extremely popular in the 17th century. The plate,
however, did not survive, and good impressions such as this one are extremely rare.

On the top of a pole, the rat catcher carries a basket containing live rats. As proof of the efficiency of
the poison being peddled, dead animals are hanging from under the basket. The rat catcher himself
looks rather impressive in his thick coat, wearing a tall cap, with big strong hands, a bearded and
expressive face, and armed with a sabre hanging from his belt. To add to his imposing figure, a sizeable
rat sits happily on his left shoulder. The delicate lighting in this etching enhances the overall velvet
tonality. The young boy, standing between the rat catcher and his costumer, is holding a large box
possibly containing the poison. The subtle use of light on his face gives an attractive charm to this
scene. The elderly customer wearing a small turban, is half hanging over the door hatch. It almost
seems as if he is talking back to someone in the house, deliberating whether they should make use of
the rat catcher.

Provenance

from a private American collection; private Dutch collection

Exhibitions

Sordid & Sacred: the Beggars in Rembrandt’s Etchings, 2006 – 2009, National Museum Tour,
traveled to museums throughout the United States.

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