- Museum number
The dismissal of Hagar and Ishmael; with Abraham wearing a turban standing outside a doorway. c.1652-1655
Reed pen and brown ink on pale brown paper; unruled framing lines in the same ink as the drawing.
Verso: see Inscriptions.
Watermark: Paschal lamb, similar to Rotterdam, 1988, no.154, repr. p.361; resembles Churchill 456 (Germany, 1657), and Hinterding catalogue D.a.a. (c.1655).
- Production date
- 1652-1656 (circa)
Height: 200 millimetres
Width: 245 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 23/25mm apart)
- Curator's comments
- Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, 'Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school', 2010, Rembrandt, cat. no.50:
The subject is from Genesis, XXI, 9-24: Abraham's wife, Sarah, gave birth late in life to Isaac. She had previously been barren and permitted Abraham to take Hagar as his second wife, by whom his son Ishmael was conceived. After Isaac's birth, Sarah forced Abraham to expel Hagar and Ishmael from their home: 'And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away' (verse 14). For related compositions by Rembrandt and his pupils, see cat. no.75 (1860,0616.121, Benesch 524). The present drawing was probably made not long after the version of c.1650 now in Amsterdam there mentioned (Benesch 916), in which the group of figures is more closely knit.
In style the drawing appears to belong to the 1650s, the figures being executed in the rectilinear shorthand characteristic of the period and seen, for example, in the 'Homer reciting' in the Six Album, dated 1652 (Benesch 913). The head of Sarah to the right may also be compared with that of Minerva in the 'Minerva in her Study' also of 1652 and in the same location (Benesch 914). Other biblical drawings in a similar but broader style, such as the 'Christ and the Woman with the Issue of Blood' in Vienna (Benesch 1052), the 'Christ on the Road to Emmaus' in the Louvre (Benesch 987) and the 'Reconciliation of Esau and Jacob' in Berlin (Benesch 966, with similar background foliage) suggest that the present sheet may be from a few years later than the dated drawings in Amsterdam.
It must be admitted that the present sheet's stylistic proximity to drawings now given to Aert de Gelder (including De Gelder cat. no.1; 1910,0212.176, Benesch 648, and the drawings with which it is there compared) and its distance from drawings of the same period such as cat. nos.47-9 (1961,0412.1, 1910,0212.180 and 1895,0915.1261) somewhat undermines confidence in the attribution to Rembrandt. Yet on the basis of the comparisons enumerated above it seems preferable to retain the traditional attribution. The watermark supports a date around 1655-7, which would be too early for De Gelder, who was born in 1645.
 Rijksmuseum (Benesch 916, see Amsterdam, 1985, no.40, where dated c.1650).
 The Louvre drawing, placed c.1655-6 by Benesch, was dated c.1654 by Starcky in Exh. Louvre, (Cabinet des dessins), 1988-9, no.58.
LITERATURE (as Rembrandt unless otherwise stated):
Michel, 1893, p.585 (listed with 'Hagar and Ishmael', De Gelder cat. no.1 [1910,0212.176, Benesch 648], q.v.; unclear whether both or only the latter ex-'Carrew' coll.); Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.1115; London, 1915, no.35, repr. pl.VII (c.1635-40 or later; less close to the etching of the subject, Bartsch 30, Hind 149, than cat. no.75 [1860,0616.121, Benesch 524]); Valentiner, 1925, no.26, repr. (c.1648-50); Hell, 1930, pp.22-3 (on development of motif of steps and architecture in Rembrandt's work); Benesch, 1935, p.55 (c.1653-5; compares 'Stoning of Stephen', Berlin, Benesch 959, 'Christ on Sea of Galilee', Dresden, Benesch 954, 'Christ and Samaritan Woman', Oxford, Benesch 978, 'Jacob shown Joseph's blood-stained Coat', Amsterdam, Benesch 971, 'Cot and his Family leaving Sodom', Washington, Benesch 963, 'Adoration of Shepherds', Washington, Benesch A117, 'Presentation in Temple', Turin, Benesch 970, 'Christ and the Adulteress', Rotterdam, Benesch 964); Hamann, 1936, pp.521-2, repr. fig.75, and pp.537-9 (school, perhaps Maes, based on Amsterdam version, Benesch 1126; notes weaker ex-Mallmann version, with variations, sold Lepke, Berlin, 13-14 June, 1918, no.192, 19 x 28); Hamann, 1948, p.83, repr. fig.61 (c.1650; compares other versions, including Rembrandt's copy after Lastman in Vienna, Benesch 447); Benesch, V, 1957/73, no.962, repr. fig.1176/1244 (c.1655; as Benesch, 1935, also comparing 'Reconciliation of Jacob and Esau', Berlin, Benesch 966); Sumowski, 1961, p.17 (as Hamann, 1936); Fuchs, 1968, p.47, repr. fig.83 (c.1650; relates to versions repr. Valentiner, I, 1924, nos.20ff., noting increased role of Sarah); Amsterdam, 1985, under no.40, repr. fig.40b, and under nos.57-60 (mid-1650s; compared to Amsterdam version, Benesch 916; Rembrandt's copies of Indian miniatures may inform the style of the British Museum's drawing, as also of the 'Christ and the Woman with the Issue of Blood' in Vienna, Benesch 1052); Exh. Berlin-Amsterdam-London, 1991-2, pp.382-3 and n.8 (as for cat. no.75 [1860,0616.121, Benesch 524]).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
London, Royal Academy, 1899, no.168;
London, 1910, p.4; 1912, no.157 (as formerly in Ploos van Amstel collection);
1938, no.35 (c.1635-40 or later);
1956, p.24, no.2;
1992, BM, Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle, no.54.
2012 Apr-Aug, UAE, Abu Dhabi. Treasures
- Good; trimmed somewhat irregularly; soiled at corners; three black spots at left margin.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Van Dyssel sale, Amsterdam, van der Schley, J. de Bosch, Ploos van Amstel, de Winter and B. de Bosch, 11 )ct., 1784, kunstboek FF, no.1925; Brandt and Kerkhoff, 1821, no.2; Eduard Ter Bruggen; his sale, Amsterdam, 14-15 May, 1877, lot 209, bt de Visser, f.250; A.-G.de Visser; his sale, Amsterdam, 16-18 May, 1881, lot 331, bt Muller, 315 francs; bequeathed by George Salting, 1910.*
* Formerly in the Ploos van Amstel collection, according to Exh. London, 1912, but without his mark. A version was in his sale, van der Schley et. al., Amsterdam, 3 March etc., 1800, Kunstboek x, no.31 (sold with lot 32 for f.3.10). The provenance as reconstructed here is based on Dutuit, II, 1885, p.110; cf. also Michel, 1893 (see Lit. under Comment).
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