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

“Jan Cornelius Sylvius, Preacher”

etching, drypoint and engraving, with excellent margins all around. watermarked with the Strasbourg coat of arms (cf. Eric Hinterding, Rembrandt as an etcher. Catalogue of watermarks (words), vol. II, p. 320).
291 x 202 mm
signed and dated: Rembrandt f. 1646
More info

Bartsch 280; Seidlitz 280; Hind 225; White-Boon 280, second state (of two);
The New Hollstein Dutch no. 235, 2nd state (of II).
Plate not in existence – with Nowell-Usticke (1967): RRR


Jan Cornelis Sylvius (1564-1638), a preacher in the Dutch Reformed Church in
Amsterdam beginning in 1610, was the legal guardian of Rembrandt’s wife-to-be, Saskia
van Uylenburgh. It was to Sylvius that Rembrandt made his appeal for Saskia’s hand.
The respected Amsterdam preacher had already died eight years ago when this portrait
was created.
The inscription below the portrait is comprised of sixteen lines of Latin tekst by Caspar
Barlaeus and Petrus Sylvius:
Spes mea Christus. Iohannes Cornelÿ Sylvius. Amstelodamo-bat: functus S S.Minist:aõs 45.et 6.menses.
In Frisiâ. in Tyemarum et Phirdgum aõs 4. In Balco et Harich unicum. In Minnerts gae aõs 4.Slotis aõs
2. In Hollandiâ, Slotis aõs. Amstelodami aõs 28. et 6.menses, ibidemque obÿt ã o 1638.19. Novembr.
natus aõs 74. ; upper center, in plate: Rembrandt f. 1646 ; in bottom quarter, in plate: Cuius
adorandum docuit Facundia Christum, / Et populis veram pandit ad astra viam. / Talis erat Sylvî
facies. audivimus illum / Amstelÿs is[?]o civibus ora loqui. / Hoc Frisÿs praecepta dedit; pietasque.
fevero / Relligioque. diu vindica tuta s[?]it. / Praeluscit, veneranda fuis virtutibus, atas. / Erudytque.
ipsos fossa senecta viros. / Simplicitatis amans fucum contomsit honesti, / Nec sola voluit fronto placero
bonis. / Sic statuit: Fesum vita melioro doceri / Rectius, et vocum fulmina posso minus. / Amstola, sis
memor extincti. qui condidit urbem / Moribus, hanc urso fulsÿt illo Deo. / C. Barlaeus. / Haud
amplius depraedico illiûs dotis. / Auas aemulor, frustraque persequor verso. / P. S. ;
The translation is as followes:
His eloquence proclaimed that Christ must be worshipped, and opened the true way to
heaven for the people. This is the likeness of Sylvius, with this mouth we have heard him
address the citizens of Amsterdam, this mouth provided the Frisians with rules of life,
under his strict care faith and religion long remained pure. In middle age his qualities still
shone through, in old age he even still instructed adult men. He loved simplicity and
hated hypocrisy, he wanted therefore not to please the good citizens only with outward
display. His position was: it is better to portray Jesus’s teachings through a well-conducted
life, blustering has no effect. Amsterdam, remember the deceased, who uplifted your city
with his way of life and supported it with the help of God himself.


From a private German collection;
From a private Dutch collection.


Excellent, harmonious and fine drawing print of the second state with the revisions on
the preacher’s right eye. With a margin up to 6 mm wide around the plate edge.


“Rembrandt’s Earlier Etching of Jan Cornelis Sylvius” by Arthur M. Hind
Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, Vol. 23, No. 121 (Apr., 1913), pp. 22-23+25