- Museum number
Peter and John at the gate of the temple; roughly etched; healing cripple. c.1629-30
Etching with surface tone, with ink line around four sides
Watermark: Countermark NA (Hinterding catalogue, variant A.d., datable c.1629-31)
- Production date
Height: 223 millimetres
Width: 169 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Hinterding et al. 2000
Selected literature: Bauch 1960, p. 127; Vienna 1970-71, no. 10; White 1999, pp. 23-5, 27, 28.
Arriving at the temple gates, Peter and John encounter a beggar who has been lame since birth. Peter addresses the man, saying that he can give him neither silver nor gold, but heals him in the name of Christ (Acts 3:1-10). The encounter between the two apostles and the lame man is part of the standard repertoire of illustrations from the 'Acts of the Apostles', and several separate depictions of the text also exist [See Pigler 1974, I, pp. 386-8]. The main ingredients are present in a widely disseminated engraving after a drawing by the Antwerp artist Maarten de Vos (1532-1603): the architectural surroundings, the two apostles - Peter greeting the beggar, arms outstretched, and several people who witness the scene as they visit the temple [Hollstein, 'Maarten de Vos', 892.].
Rembrandt chose to represent the same moment: not the miracle itself but the action immediately preceding it, when Peter accosts the man. He based Peter's somewhat theatrical pose on a figure study, having manoeuvred a model into this position for the purpose. He deliberately adopted a low viewpoint, sitting on a stool or on the ground to draw the model [Schatborn 1993, p. 161]. He may have made an equivalent study of the beggar, but the figure of John is worked up so little that he may have invented it on the copper plate. Yet his head vaguely recalls Rembrandt's etched self-portraits and studies of heads from the same period [See also Bauch 1933, pp. 192-3].
As only four impressions of the print have survived, it is unlikely that a sizeable edition was produced. Nor is the print by any means a flawless work of art. Black streaks are visible all over the plate, probably caused by the disintegration of the etching ground. Rembrandt tried to remedy this by applying varnish with the brush in places, and various white strokes or stripes interrupt these splotches as a result. Where the hatching had failed to absorb any ink - in particular in the figure of John - three of the four impressions were retouched subsequently with the brush in grey ink.
Even leaving aside these technical flaws, the etching displays an unusually crude and scratchy execution, which greatly adds to its experimental appearance. Rembrandt had rarely adopted such a large size for his prints before, and did not adapt his mode of chalk.
Rembrandt almost certainly reused the copper plate for another etching, though which one has yet to be determined. He may have cut or sawn the plate down, something he did quite frequently. Rembrandt was to return to this subject in another etching in 1659, changing the disposition of the three protagonists and the architecture. It is hard to believe that the artist did not have the thirty-year-old version to hand when he once again etched the bald, gesticulating Peter, the cloaked figure of John and the seated beggar gazing up at them.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2003-4 Oct-Jan, Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, 'Rembrandt's Journey:...'
2004 Feb-May, Chicago, Art Institute, 'Rembrandt's Journey:...'
2006 Apr-Jun, Hull, Ferens AG (Sth Bank Tour), Rembrandt
2006 Jun-Sep, Bath, Victoria AG (Sth Bank Tour), Rembrandt
2006 Oct-Dec, Newcastle, Laing AG (Sth Bank Tour), Rembrandt
2007 Apr-Jun, Stoke-on-Trent, Potteries MAG (Sth Bank Tour), Rembrandt
2007 Jun-Sep, Blackpool, Grundy AG (Sth Bank Tour), Rembrandt
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number