h 294 mm × w 170 mm
h 294 mm × w 170 mm
inscribed: lower right, in black chalk (trimmed), Rem
inscribed on verso: lower centre, in pencil, R 1; below this, in pencil (with the no. of the 1883 De Vos sale), de Vos 412; lower left, in a seventeenth-century hand, in black chalk (trimmed; barely legible), [...] ast / [...] en / [...] / [...] en / [...] us; next to that, in blue pencil, 21; lower right, in pencil (with the Hofstede de Groot cat. no.), 1186
Watermark: Dove within a circle, close to De Stoppelaar 1869, pl. VIII, no. 15 (1630); Voorn 1960, no. 28 (1629)
Light foxing throughout
...; collection Jacob de Vos Jbzn (1803-78), Amsterdam (L. 1450); his sale, Amsterdam (C.F. Roos et al.), 22 May 1883 sqq., no. 412 (‘Figures de Gueux’), with two other drawings, fl. 470, to Georg Carl Valentin Schöffer (1841-1915), Amsterdam, for the Vereniging Rembrandt (L. 2135);1 from whom, fl. 5,049, with 166 other drawings, to the museum (L. 2228), 1889
Object number: RP-T-1889-A-2047(V)
Credit line: Purchased with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt
Copyright: Public domain
Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (Leiden 1606 - Amsterdam 1669)
After attending Latin school in his native Leiden, Rembrandt, the son of a miller, enrolled at Leiden University in 1620, but soon abandoned his studies to become an artist. He first trained (1621-23) under the Leiden painter Jacob Isaacsz van Swanenburg (c. 1571-1638), followed by six months with the Amsterdam history painter Pieter Lastman (c. 1583-1633). Returning to Leiden around 1624, he shared a studio with Jan Lievens, where he aimed to establish himself as a history painter, winning the admiration of the poet and courtier Constantijn Huygens. In 1628 Gerard Dou (1613-75) became his first pupil. In the autumn of 1631 Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam, where his career rapidly took off. Three years later he joined the Guild of St Luke and married Saskia Uylenburgh (1612-42), niece of the art dealer Hendrik Uylenburgh (c. 1587-1661), in whose house he had been living and working. She died shortly after giving birth to their son Titus, by which time Rembrandt was already in financial straits owing to excessive spending on paintings, prints, antiquities and studio props for his history pieces. After Saskia’s death, Rembrandt lived first with Titus's wet nurse, Geertje Dircx (who eventually sued Rembrandt for breach of promise and was later imprisoned for her increasingly unstable behaviour), and then with his later housekeeper, Hendrickje Stoffels (by whom he had a daughter, Cornelia). Mounting debts made him unable to meet the payments of his house on the Jodenbreestraat and forced him to declare bankruptcy in 1656 and to sell his house and art collection. In the last decade of his life, he, Hendrickje and Titus resided in more modest accommodation on the Rozengracht, but Rembrandt continued to be dogged by continuing financial difficulties. His beloved Titus died in 1668. Rembrandt survived him by only a year and was buried in the Westerkerk.
The three standing men represented on the recto, Standing Man with a Stick, Facing Left (fig. a, inv. no. RP-T-1889-A-2047(R)) of the present work, A Cap, and in the similar works Standing Man with a Pouch (inv. no. RP-T-1889-A-2045) and Standing Man with a Stick, Facing Right (inv. no. RP-T-1889-A-2046(R)) are usually taken for beggars, but they probably portray tradesmen or other humble figures. Etchings and drawings of these types of people, which Rembrandt made at the end of his Leiden period (1625-31), were inspired by the work of the French artist Jacques Callot, whose print series Les Gueux had appeared in 1622.2 Not only the subject matter, but also the style of Callot’s prints influenced Rembrandt in these drawn studies, as can be seen in the way that shadows are rendered by means of parallel lines and in the variety of accents in the contours. Rembrandt’s earliest prints with such figures, several of which depict so-called beggars, are essentially ‘drawings’ made with an etching needle directly onto the etching-plate (e.g. inv. no. RP-P-OB-379),3 while his later etchings are much more detailed and full of nuance.4 The three drawings of standing men were made with black chalk, and on two of them Rembrandt has covered some lines with opaque white: in the Standing Man with a Pouch (inv. no. RP-T-1889-A-2045) in the crook of the elbow, to make the black chalk lighter, and in Standing Man with a Stick, Facing Left ((fig. a), inv. no. RP-T-1889-A-2047(R)) over the lines on the buttocks to give them a more rounded form. This white pigment has been worn down and is partially oxidized (it turned grey because of its lead content).
As Rembrandt drew these figures, he was sitting rather close to his models, because on the one hand we are looking up at them, while in the case of the Standing Man with a Stick, Facing Left (inv. no. RP-T-1889-A-2047(R)) we are looking down at his feet. Characteristic of these drawings is the combination of a broadly descriptive, sketchy draughtsmanship with heavy, sometimes angular lines and an acute awareness of form, seen in both light and shadow.
The three drawings were made on the same type of paper, which can be identified as Italian because of the circular watermarks and the widely-spaced chain lines. Rembrandt used this paper for other figure drawings made during his Leiden period, such as those in the Kupferstich-Kabinett in Dresden (inv. nos. C 1971-26 and C 1966-67),5 the Hermitage in St Petersburg (inv. no. OP-14946),6 the Louvre in Paris (inv. no. 22580)7 and a sheet in a private collection.8 One of these sheets is on paper with a similar watermark.9 J.G. van Vliet used paper with a similar watermark for one of his prints made in 1631 after a painting by Rembrandt, St Jerome in Prayer (e.g. inv. no. RP-P-OB-33.360).10 This type of paper has been found in the archives of Haarlem11 and Middelburg12 and was used in 1629 and 1630, the years to which the drawings are usually assigned. The partially visible signatures with the letters ‘R’ and ‘Rem’ are not authentic: the chalk used has a slightly different colour and the signatures do not appear on any other drawings in this group.
The idea behind creating a series of figure studies of this kind arose from the belief that nature and the visible world had to be imitated. The exercise of sketching from life prepared Rembrandt for the experience of creating figures for the paintings and etchings. Rembrandt’s pupil Samuel van Hoogstraten, in his treatise on painting entitled Inleyding tot de hooge schoole der schilderkonst (1678), recorded such a working method, recounting the story of a trip he made to Vienna in the early 1650s with his brother, who picked up a beggar from the street and used him as a model for a painting with a Denial of St Peter.13 Similar figures to those in this group of drawings can be seen in Rembrandt’s painting Simeon’s Song of Praise, dated 1631, in the Mauritshuis in The Hague (inv. no. 145).14
Peter Schatborn, 2017
C. Hofstede de Groot, Die Handzeichnungen Rembrandts, Haarlem 1906, no. 1186 (c. 1630-35); M.D. Henkel, Catalogus van de Nederlandsche teekeningen in het Rijksmuseum te Amsterdam, I: Teekeningen van Rembrandt en zijn school, coll. cat. Amsterdam 1942, no. 4 (c. 1628); O. Benesch, The Drawings of Rembrandt (rev. edn. by E. Benesch), 6 vols., London 1973 (orig. edn. 1954-57), no. 32; P. Schatborn, Dutch Figure Drawings of the Seventeenth Century, exh. cat. Amsterdam (Rijksmuseum)/Washington (DC) (National Gallery of Art) 1981-82, no. 77; P. Schatborn, Catalogus van de Nederlandse tekeningen in het Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, IV: Tekeningen van Rembrandt, zijn onbekende leerlingen en navolgers/Drawings by Rembrandt, his Anonymous Pupils and Followers, coll. cat. Amsterdam 1985, no. 4, with earlier literature; E. Starcky, Rembrandt: Les Figures, Paris 1999, p. 26; E. van de Wetering et al., The Mystery of the Young Rembrandt, exh. cat. Kassel (Staatliche Museen)/Amsterdam (Museum Het Rembrandthuis) 2001-02, no. 47; R. van Straten, Rembrandts Leidse tijd, 1606-1632, Leiden 2005, pp. 122-23, fig. 162; M. Schapelhouman, Rembrandt and the Art of Drawing, Amsterdam 2006, pp. 33 and 36, fig. 30; M. Royalton-Kisch, The Drawings of Rembrandt: A Revision of Otto Benesch’s Catalogue Raisonné (online), no. 0032, with further literature