- Museum number
Portrait of Cornelis Claesz Anslo; study for an etching, half-length, seated at a table, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, his left hand resting on a book which stands upright on the table and with his right pointing to another. 1640
Red chalk, heightened and corrected with white oil colour, with some red wash on pale yellowish-brown paper; the outlines indented with the stylus for transfer to the copper plate; the verso is coated in an ochre medium, possibly containing wax, and this probably gave rise to the yellowish paper tone on the recto; ruled framing lines in pen and black ink (as well as the horizontal line in red chalk above the signature).
Verso: See the notes on the medium, above.
- Production date
Height: 157 millimetres (chain lines vertical, 26mm apart)
Width: 144 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, Rembrandt, cat. no.31.
Dated 1640, the drawing is Rembrandt's preparatory study, in reverse, for his portrait etching of 1641 depicting the cloth-merchant, theologian, Mennonite minister and preacher, Cornelis Claesz. Anslo (1592-1646; the print is Bartsch 271, Hind 187; for impressions of the first two states in the British Museum, see for example 1842,0806.147 and 1868,0822.694). The sheet has been rather freely indented for transfer to the copper plate, in which several additions and modifications were introduced: the full height of the hat, lowered in a correction in white in the drawing, is retained; more space is left above and to either side of the sitter, and a nail appears in the wall, with a picture or other framed object below shown with its back to the spectator that is perhaps adumbrated in the drawing. The additions are thought possibly to refer obliquely to the primacy of the spoken word over art in the Protestant dissemination of the Christian faith.
Rembrandt depicted Anslo again in a drawing now in the Louvre (Benesch 759) which is also signed and dated 1640. This likewise shows him seated by a table with a book but he is seen full-length and beside the table, and his posture suggests more forcefully that he is in the act of speaking. The changes in the Paris drawing were developed further in Rembrandt's large painted double portrait of 'Anslo in Conversation with his Wife' in Berlin (Bredius 409, Corpus A143), dated in the following year, 1641, like the etching.
It has been suggested that the alterations were made as a response to Vondel's quatrain, the text of which is transcribed above: the poet gives precedence to the voice and the word over the image of the sitter, following a literary tradition that praises deeds (intangible and therefore immortal like the soul) over the portrait of the visible, mortal frame. It is also thought, again in the light of precedent, that the quatrain was intended for publication with or even on the copper plate, and that Vondel might have based his verses on the present drawing.
The signature and date, unusual in Rembrandt's drawn work, make the sheet of considerable importance in establishing the chronology of his drawings and further suggest that he may have considered this working study to be an independent and finished work of art. It may also have served as a 'modello', to be shown to the patron or sitter before the print's execution. The questions as to whether it was executed before or after the Paris sheet and whether they were both drawn from life, which have given rise to some debate, are not possible to resolve definitively, but the greater detail of the Paris drawing suggests that it was more likely to have formed the basis for the present sheet rather than the other way around.
 For further details of the sitter, see Corpus, III, 1989, p.410 and n.4 below.
 The print is larger (188 x 158 mm) and the drawing may have been cut, as proposed by White, 1969 (see Lit. below). A touched impression of the print, not recorded by White and Boon, 1969, was in the S. Woodburn sale, Christie's, 9th day, 26 June, 1854, no.2253: 'Reinier Anslo - the etching, touched upon with bistre and red, by the master', bt Cheney, £7-7-0. For other indented drawings by Rembrandt, see cat. no.5 (1895,0915.1266) and n.1 of that entry.
 As suggested by Busch, 1971, pp.1969. Ripa, 1611, p.139 (1644 ed. p.595) described Eloquence as having a book in her right hand, the left hand being raised with the first finger extended, much as in the etching. The nail might refer punningly to Anslo's teaching venue, the 'Groote Spijker' (as first suggested by Haverkamp-Begemann - see Dickey, 1994, p.399, n.96). Dickey, 1998, noted that the 'picture' may already be present in the drawing, and noticed the suggestion of architecture at the top right (see Literature below).
 Scholte, 1946 and Emmens, 1956, reprinted 1981, III, pp.89ff. His arguments are partly countered by Busch, 1971. See also Schwartz, 1985/84, pp.217-19, and Frerichs, 1969, pp.206-11, for further details of the sitter and the related works.
 Scholte, 1946 and Emmens, op. cit. Refuted by Corpus, III, 1989, p.413.
 See, for example, Sumowski, 1957-8, p.236 and Schatborn, 1986, pp.8-9. The fact that the sitter's right arm in the British Museum's drawing initially followed the same line as the Paris version could offer some further support for the precedence of the latter.
LITERATURE (always as Rembrandt, 1640, for the etching Bartsch 271, Hind 187):
'British Museum Guide', 1858, p.14, no.116, Bürger, 1858, p.397; Blanc, II, 1861, p.454; Vosmaer, 1868, pp.135 and 457 (as ex-coll. Verstolk van Soelen); Vosmaer, 1877, pp.207-8 and 524 (as ex-Aylesford coll.); Middleton, 1878, p.126, under no.146 (as from Galichon and Howard collections); Dutuit, IV, 1885, p.8; (indented; compares Louvre version, Benesch 759); Michel, 1893, pp.272 and 582, repr. opp. p.273, in colour (indented and for the print); Seidlitz, 1894, p.120; Seidlitz, 1895/1922, under no.271 (for etching, while Paris drawing, Benesch 759, for both etching and painting); Lippmann, I, no.120; Kleinmann, ill, no.32; Graul, 1906, no.34, repr.; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.896 (wrongly states that the sheet blackened on the verso); Hofstede de Groot, 1906[I], p.130 (Vondel's poem probably refers to the print or Berlin painting, Bredius 409, as suggested by Unger in his edition of Vondel; the poem first published in the 'Verscheiden Gedichte', 1644, p.135; he wrote on two other works by Rembrandt); Michel, 1906, repr. opp. p.82 in colour; Baldwin Brown, 1907, pp.126 and 186; Schmidt-Degener, 1908, p.105 (livelier than the etching); Six, 1908, p.58 (blackened on verso [untrue] and therefore Rembrandt used a white etching ground); Wurzbach, 1910, p.417; Hind, 1912/24, I, p.61/28 and under no.187; London, 1915, no.59, repr. pl.I; Veth, 1915, p.276, repr. pl.101, fig.1 (drawn from life); Graul, 1920, p.28, under no.149; Kauffmann, 1920, p.49 (Rembrandt's contact with learned men); Kramar, 1926, p.37 (contrasts with more detailed style of other sheets of this period); Weisbach, 1926, p.300 (perhaps an independent work of art, subsequently used for the print); Van Dyke, 1927, pp.30-31 (the etching by Bol); Byam Shaw, 1928, p.31, n.2 (last known pure red chalk drawing by Rembrandt); Berlin, 1930, p.183, under no.4246 and p.231, under no.3768 (compares Maes' red chalk technique and Rembrandt's 'Old Man near a Door' in Berlin, Benesch 760); Hind, 1932, pp.77 and 144 (pivotal for Rembrandt attributions); Exh. Madrid, 1934, p.57, under no.69; Valentiner, II, 1934, no.724, repr.; Benesch, 1935, p.31; Bredius, 1937/35, p.17, under no.409; Poortenaar, 1943, no.8, repr.; Poortenaar, 1943[I], repr. p.88; Scholte, 1946, pp.9-12, repr. 1946[I], p.154; von Alten, 1947, no.32, repr.; Benesch, 1947, p.16 and no.111, repr. (the most detailed preparatory drawing by Rembrandt; notes Paris drawing, Benesch 759, and Berlin painting); Hamann, 1948, p.167 (on Rembrandt's development as portraitist); Rosenberg, 1948/64, p.225/354, n.15; van Gelder, 1949, p.207 (Röver provenance, omitted by Benesch, 1947); Münz, 1952, I, p.38, repr. pl.II and vol.II, pp.13, 26, 28 and 65, under no.60, repr. pl.II, fig.5 (blackened verso [untrue], perhaps used as a 'modello'); Boeck, 1953, pp.193-4, repr. p.192, fig.10 (the pen in Anslo's left hand in anticipation of reversal in the etching; notes other differences in book pages, 'stove' and shadow); Slive, 1953, p.175, fig.40; Benesch, IV, 1955, no.758, repr. fig.902/955; Biörklund and Barnard, 1955, p.79, under no.41-1; Emmens, 1956, reprinted 1981, III, p.89, repr. fig.5 (precedes the other portraits; discussion of Rembrandt and Vondel, and Anslo's gesture); Exh. Amsterdam-Rotterdam etchings, 1956, p.23, under no.45 (verso not blackened); Lugt, 'Supplément', 1956, under nos.2984a-c (in Röver collection); Exh. Vienna, 1956, p.58, under no.194; Exh. Warsaw, 1956, under no.32; White, 1956, p.124 (indentations unusually deep); Visser 't Hooft, 1957/56, p.6; (Rembrandt's interest in Mennonites dates from same period); Sumowski, 1957-8, p.236 (formed the basis of the Rothschild drawing; pose similar to Buckingham Palace 'Shipbuilder', Bredius 408); Exh. New York-Cambridge, 1960, p.24, under no.28 (notes that Washington 'Self-Portrait', Benesch 437, followed the sheet in Röver's album); White, 1962, repr. pl.13; Slive, 1965, I, no.122, repr.; Bauch, 1966, p.27, under no.536; Morse, 1966, p.100 (informed by J. K. Rowlands that the verso covered with 'ochre tempera'); Gerson, 1968, p.497, under no.234; Haak, 1969/68, p.170, fig.268 (on Vondel: his lines not a criticism but follows 'topos' that a man is remembered for his deeds; the word 'mael' also used for etchings and the lines could therefore refer to the print); Frerichs, 1969, p.209; White, 1969, I, pp.13n., 124, 125n, 130n. and 162, repr.II, fig.165 (possibly cut down); White and Boon, 1969, I, p.124, under no.B271 (no chalk on verso); Exh. Chicago-Minneapolis-Detroit, 1969-70, under no.111 (Röver provenance – see note under Acquisition); Exh. Vienna, 1970-71, p.83, under no.136; Busch, 1971, pp.196-9 (notes meaning of nail and painting face-to-wall in the etching); van Gelder, 1973, p.196 (on Röver provenance); White, 1973, p.139 (one of only three indented drawings for etchings); Klamt, 1975, p.155 (on iconography of Berlin painting); Strauss and van der Meulen, 1979, pp.243 and 478 (with details of the poem and Vondel's relationship with painters; quotes Morse, 1966); Sumowski, II, 1979, under no.522xx (differs from Berlin 'Man by a House', Benesch 760, which is ascribed to Doomer); Schatborn, 1981, pp.38-9, 41 and 53, n.143 (was no.8/36 in posthumous Röver inventory, preceded by National Gallery 'Ecce Homo', Bredius 546; Röver's identification as the poet Reyer Anslo incorrect - he was the preacher's nephew); Broos, 1982, p.246; Haverkamp-Begemann, 1982, p.34; Bruyn, 1983, p.54, n.15; Royalton-Kisch, 1984, p.22, n.12 (clear example of indented drawing); Corpus, II, 1986, p.465; Exh. Paris, 1986, p.137, under no.67; Schatborn, 1986, pp.8-9, repr. fig.1 (perhaps based on Paris drawing, Benesch 759, rather than directly on the model); Tümpel, 1986, repr. p.122 in colour (robe suggests Anslo's wealth); Exh. Amsterdam, 1986-7, p.6 and no.25 (reproduction exhibited; follows Emmens, 1956, and Busch, 1971); Exh. Paris, 1988-9, under no.28; Corpus, III, 1989, pp.54-5, signature repr. fig.19, and pp.410-13, repr. fig.10 (perhaps a 'modello'; see n.5 above); Exh. Berlin-Amsterdam-London, 1991-2, pp.224-5, repr. in colour, fig.33c ('modello' for print; as a half-length image, more probably derived from Paris version than vice-versa); Exh. Berlin-Amsterdam, 1991-2[I], pp.167 and 209-10, repr. fig.16a; Royalton-Kisch, 1993[I], p.175; Dickey, 1994, pp.329-32, repr. fig.38; Schatborn, in Exh. Paris-Haarlem, 1997, pp.XXIV-XXV (probably based on Paris version); Dickey, 1998, pp.313, 329-31and 398, n.90, repr. fig.38 (see n.3 above; stylus only loosely follows drawn outlines); Dickey, 2004, p.47, repr. p.246, fig.58 and n.105 (information on the sitter; signature not transferred to the plate); Schatborn, 2006, p.74, under cat. no.21; Schwartz, 2006, pp.79 and 190, repr. figs 132 and 324; Exh. Paris, 2006-7[II], p.173, under no.65, repr. fig.113; Paris, 2008, under no.199; N. Middelkoop, ed., 'Ferdinand Bol and Govert Flinck: Rembrandt's Master Pupils' Exh. cat Rembrandthuis/Amsterdam Museum, Amsterdam 2018, fig. 303.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1858, 1859 and 1860, London, no.116;
1899, London, no.A29;
1938, London, no.59;
1956, London, p.7, no.6a;
1974 July-Dec, BM, 'Portrait Drawings', no.106;
1984 BM, 'Rembrandt and the Passion', no.6a;
1992 BM, 'Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle', no.32
2000-2001, Amsterdam and London, pp.64, 196 and 199
2002-3, Oct-Jan, Rome, Scuderie del Quirinale, 'Rembrandt Pittore Incisore'
- Good; some residual foxing; the indentations have pierced the paper in a few places (in the beard, chair and tablecloth); the sheet may have been trimmed (see further under Curatorial Comment).
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Valerius Röver (L.2984a-c; Portfolio 8, no.36: '’t portret van de poëet Anslo met root krijt, en gehoogt/ op geel pap:r ['r' is superscript] Ao. 1640 van dezelve [i.e. Rembrandt]/3:- [i.e. three guilders]');* Röver’s widow, C. van Dussen, who sold his drawings to the dealer H. de Leth; J. Goll van Franckenstein and descendants; his sale, Amsterdam, 1 July etc. 1833, kunstboek I, no.4, sold for fl.250; Heneage Finch, 4th Earl of Aylesford (possibly thence to S. Woodburn, see L.58); purchased from Messrs Smith, 1848.
*The transcription is from the original manuscript in the Amsterdam University Library (ref.II, A, 174, f.25). The 1751 manuscript inventory, which contains a similar entry for the drawing, is also in the Amsterdam University Library, HS 1466 II A18. The Röver provenance was first rediscovered by van Gelder, 1949, p.207. The poet Reinier Anslo was in fact a nephew of the sitter. See also Slive, 1953, pp.175ff and Schatborn, 1981 (see Lit. under Comment). The next drawing in Röver’s album was the red chalk 'Self-Portrait' in Washington (Benesch 437), as noted in Exh. New York-Cambridge, 1960, under no.28. I can find nothing to support the provenance in the Galichon and Hugh Howard (Earl of Wicklow) collections provided by Middleton, 1878, p.126.
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