- Museum number
The Virgin and Child seated by a window; the Virgin seated to right, bending slightly over the Child, her arms around him. c.1638
Pen and brown ink with brown wash.
Verso: An interior winding staircase.
- Production date
- 1638 (circa)
Height: 155 millimetres (chain lines vertical, 25/28mm apart, not straight)
Width: 138 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, attributed to Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, cat. no.19:
In a general way the pose of the figures on the recto is based, in reverse, on an engraving by Barthel Beham (Bartsch 8, Pauli 9). This evidence, together with the style of the woman's head-dress, make it likely that the artist intended to represent a 'Virgin and Child' rather than a genre study of a mother and child.
The drawing exhibits a splintery angularity of line, most evident in the faces and drapery, that recalls Rembrandt's style in the surviving sketches for his painting of 'St John the Baptist preaching' in Berlin (Bredius 555, Corpus A106), datable c.1634-5. The most comparable to the present sheet are two studies in the Berlin Kupferstichkabinett (Benesch 140-41), which houses another drawing in the same style, Rembrandt's pen and ink study after Leonardo's 'Last Supper' (Benesch 445), which is dated 1635. The British Museum's drawing differs from these in that the shading is executed in wash rather than with hatching in pen and ink, but in other respects the style and technique are similar. Other sheets to which the present drawing has been justifiably compared on grounds of style and iconography include the 'Bearded Man in a high Cap', cat. no.18 (1895,0915.1263), the 'Holy Family near a Window' formerly with O. Gutekunst in London (Benesch 114), and a study of a 'Woman and Child' in the Louvre (Benesch 275).
The staircase on the verso (upside down in relation to the recto) resembles that in a drawing in Copenhagen (Benesch 392) representing a domestic interior and which is executed in the same style. The motif recurs in a painting in the Louvre of an 'Old Man in an Interior', a studio work, and like the Copenhagen drawing it depicts the hanging basket, omitted from the winding staircases that appear in other works by or associated with Rembrandt.
The attribution would be unproblematic were it not for the doubts that have been expressed concerning the Copenhagen drawing (see under n.2 below), and the stylistic proximity of the recto to a rejected drawing in the Rijksmuseum of a 'Captive led by a High Priest and two Soldiers'. Furthermore, the style of the recto and verso is not entirely consistent, the latter being more liquid in handling than the former. The connections noted between the present sheet and Rembrandt's own drawings of the mid-1630s are insufficiently persuasive to warrant adherence to the traditional attribution to Rembrandt; and as with the 'Bearded Man in a high Cap', cat. no.18 (1895,0915.1263), which it resembles in style, van den Eeckhout is the most likely draughtsman among the pupils. Once again there remain insufficient links with his secure work to underpin the connection more than tentatively.
 The first comparison in Exh. London, 1992, the others in Benesch, 1954/73. The ex-Gutekunst drawing was advertised in Tokyo by Messrs Wildenstein in November 1990.
 Bredius 431; Corpus, III, 1986, no.C51, where listed as a studio work of 1632 or the late 1630s. The attribution of the Copenhagen drawing (Benesch 392) is there described as 'approximate' (p.642).
 These are the etching of 'St Jerome in a dark Chamber' of 1642 (Bartsch 105, Hind 201), the paintings of the 'Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard', of 1637 (Leningrad, Bredius 558, rejected by the Corpus, III, 1989, no.C88), and the 'Healing of Tobit' (Stuttgart, Bredius 502, a school work - see Corpus, III, 1989, no.C86) and a drawing in Stockholm the subject of which may be the 'Massacre of the Innocents' (Benesch 351 verso).
 HdG.1271, Amsterdam, 1942, no.96, repr. pl.73. Attributed to van den Eeckhout by Schatborn, 1985, p.96, repr. fig.4.
LITERATURE (always as Rembrandt unless otherwise stated):
Blanc, II, 1861, p.455; Vosmaer, 1877, p.602; Dutuit, iv, 1885, p.86; Michel, 1893, p.581; Seidlitz, 1894, p.121 (1630s); Lippmann, I, no.114; Kleinmann, IV, no.25; Bell, c.1905, repr. pl.IV; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.877; Baldwin Brown, 1907, p.141; Saxl, 1908, p.234 (c.1646, for Kassel 'Holy Family', Bredius 572; same model in 'Adoration of Shepherds' in London and Munich, Bredius 575 and 574; Hendrickje the model, if she indeed seen in 'Woman taken in Adultery', Bode 338 [repr. Valentiner, 1909, no.537]); Wurzbach, 1910, p.417; Hind, 1912/24, under no.27; (compares later etching of 'Madonna with the Cat', Bartsch 63, Hind 275; the drawing much earlier); London, 1915, no.17 (c.1630-35; compares etching of 'Virgin and Child with the Cat and Snake', Bartsch 63, Hind 275; the annotation as on Eeckhout cat. no.1 (5213.7) in British Museum; verso motif in Louvre painting, Bredius 431 and etching of 'St Jerome in a dark Chamber', Bartsch 105, Hind 201); Benesch, 1925, p.31 reprinted 1970, p.89 (1635-6 at the earliest); Valentiner, I, 1925, no.320 (c.1635); Hind, 1926, p.9 (see under Inscriptions); Kauffmann, 1926, p.175, n.3 (c.1635-6); Van Dyke, 1927, p.106 (by Lievens?); Rijckevorsel, 1932, pp.121-2, repr. fig.137 (c.1635; based on Barthel Beham and Veronese); Graul, 1934, no.6 (c.1635); Benesch, 1947, p.16 and no.64, repr. (c.1635; a religious subject but drawn from nature); Münz, 1952, II, pp.105-6, under no.229, and p. 112, under no.247 (c.1642; compares recto as Hind, 1912, verso to 'St Jerome in a dark Chamber', Bartsch 105, Hind 201); Benesch, I, 1954/73, no.113, repr. figs.128-9/133 and 131 (c.1635; related to drawings in the Louvre, Benesch 275, and Weimar, Benesch 263; the verso possibly earlier, c.1633, and related to the study in Copenhagen, Benesch 392, and to Louvre painting of 1633, Bredius 431; the staircase also seen in Stockholm sketch, Benesch 351 verso); Biörklund and Barnard; 1955, p.109, under no.BB54-C (as Hind, 1912); Slive, 1965, I, no.116, repr. (c.1635-7, probably a study from life); Clark, 1966, p.154, repr. fig.146 (c.1635; hooded head of Virgin resembles Mantegna and Donatello); Bloch, 1967, p.716 (questions whether a religious work); Bernhard, 1976, II, recto repr. p.10; Exh. Paris-Antwerp-London-New York, 1979-80, p.99, under no.68 (see n.1 above; notes winding staircase in Pierpont Morgan drawing, 'Woman carrying a Child downstairs', Benesch 313); Vogel-Kohn, 1981, p.37 and no.18, repr. (c.1635-6, in Renaissance mode); Hoekstra, III (deel 1), 1983, p.65, repr. (c.1635-7); Schatborn, 1992, p.21 (perhaps by a pupil such as Bol; wash, in particular, unsatisfactory); Giltaij, 1995, p.96 (perhaps by Bol).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
London, 1899, no.A5 (before 1636);
1956, p.22, no.2;
1992, no.11, repr. in colour (c.1634-5).
- Good, but trimmed on the left, where a second sketch of the child is largely cut away.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- John Bouverie (L.325);* by descent to the first Earl of Gainsborough; his sale, Christie’s, 20 July, 1859, lot 125 (with one other, here Flinck cat. no.9; 1859,0806.73) bt Tiffin, for British Museum.
*The Bouverie collection was formed by John Bouverie (c.1723-50), much earlier than Lugt supposed. It was subsequently inherited by his nephew, John Hervey, Christopher Hervey, Elizabeth Bouverie (John's wife), Charles Middleton, and Charles Noel, first Earl of Gainsborough, who was responsible for the 1859 sale (see Exh. London, 1991, pp.21-4 and Turner, 1994).
- Prints and Drawings
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