Height: 213.000 mm
Width: 279.000 mm
PD 1868-8-22-678 (Hind 205; Bartsch 212)
Prints and Drawings
Rembrandt van Rijn, The Three Trees, an etching
Dated AD 1643
This atmospheric print is widely regarded as
Rembrandt's greatest as well as his most elaborate
On close inspection, the view is filled with an unusual amount of incident. On the left, a standing fisherman watches the end of his line, while his wife waits with a lunch basket. Above them, cows, horses and people are scattered in the sunlit fields, beyond which the towers of the distant city almost vanish in a squall of rain. On the near right, two lovers can be glimpsed in the undergrowth. A wagon on the brow of the hill approaches a seated artist, who sketches the view that is out of our sight. Behind the trunks of the three trees, some cottages shelter in the hollow of the hill, while far above them a flock of birds soars high in the sky.
The image is difficult to interpret, but the idea that the trees symbolize the Three Crosses, as is sometimes suggested, is impossible to prove. That man is dominated by the overwhelming force of nature seems clear, but whether this aspect of the print should be linked to contemporary Calvinist theology or Spinoza's pantheism is far from clear.
for Rembrandt, no trial
E. Hinterding, G. Luijten and M. Royalton-Kisch, Rembrandt the printmaker (London, The British Museum Press in association with the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 2000)
C. White, Rembrandt as an etcher: a stud, 2nd edition (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1999)