- Museum number
Pilate washing his hands; Pilate in a large turban seated beneath a canopy, before him a kneeling figure holds the bowl, beyond to left are Christ and soldiers. c.1665
Pen and brown ink with brown wash, heightened with white.
Verso: blank; see Inscriptions (inspected but now laid down).
Watermark: ID? Possibly a countermark to Strasbourg lily (cf. Laurentius 453b, datable 1643).
- Production date
- 1665 (circa)
Height: 148 millimetres
Width: 185 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 32mm apart)
- Curator's comments
- Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, anonymous Rembrandt School, cat. no.115.
The style of the drawing clearly resembles Rembrandt's work of the 1660s as seen, for example, in the composition study for the 'Syndics' in Berlin (Benesch 1178) related to the Rijksmuseum's painting of 1661 (Bredius 415), and in the drawing of 'Homer dictating' now in Stockholm (Benesch 1066) for the painting in the Mauritshuis of 1663 (Bredius 483). The latter drawing, in particular, is comparable in its combination of thinly drawn, almost tentative lines (seen here in Pilate's sleeve) with painterly work both in pen and wash, creating a sharp chiaroscuro. Yet in no detail is the handling close enough to argue for Rembrandt's own authorship of the British Museum's drawing. Indeed, Pilate's schematic facial features, and the many areas of diagonal hatching (not always logically placed) are hard to parallel in Rembrandt's work.
The composition has affinities with that of an anonymous painting of the Rembrandt school now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York (Bredius 595; Sumowski, 'Gemälde', no.1957). Yet the connection is insufficiently close to suggest that the drawing is by the same painter. Nevertheless, the author of the one may have studied the other. In the motif of Pilate, prominently shown and with a servant bearing a jug and dish of water before him, both may rely on an earlier painting by Jan Lievens now in the Lakenhal in Leiden (Sumowski, 'Gemälde', no.1180, where dated c.1625). These features are repeated in another drawing of uncertain authorship, formerly in the Simon collection in Zurich (Benesch A119).
Both the Metropolitan painting and the present drawing have been assigned tentatively to Rembrandt's pupil, Aert de Gelder; but a comparison with his best documented works - only one of which is a drawing - does not support the attribution. Yet the artist or artists involved must have been acquainted with Rembrandt's work in the last decade of his life, and in these years, few painters other than de Gelder and Rembrandt's son, Titus, are thought to have been active in Rembrandt's workshop.
 According to Sumowski, 'Gemälde', under no.1957, the drawing was most recently with K. Meissner, Zurich.
 See loc. cit., Sumowski, 1979, no.1077xx and Lit. below for the attribution.
 The only reliable starting-point for de Gelder's work as a draughtsman is the sheet now in the Abrams collection of a 'Group of Orientals' (Sumowski 1052), on which see Schatborn in Exh. Berlin-Amsterdam-London, 1991-2[I], no.47 and in Exh. Dordrecht, 1998-9.
LITERATURE (as Rembrandt unless otherwise stated; 'Metropolitan painting' refers to Bredius 595, Sumowski, 'Gemälde', no.1957, formerly Kann collection):
Bürger, 1858, p.399; Kleinmann, III, 52; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.889 (c.1665, for Metropolitan painting); Kruse, 1909, p.5, repr. (c.1655; compares Stockholm 'Homer', Benesch 1066); Wurzbach, 1910, p.417 (as HdG); London, 1915, no.98, repr. pl.XI (as HdG); Stockholm, 1920, p.93, repr. fig.109 (compares Stockholm 'Homer', Benesch 1066, which according to notes transcribed by his editor he doubts as Rembrandt); Weisbach, 1926, p.477 (as HdG); Van Dyke, 1927, p.96 (as Metropolitan painting, by Salomon Koninck?; compares version in Zurich, Benesch A119, and Rembrandt drawing in British Museum, Benesch 207, here cat.no.27; 1895,1214.100); Hell, 1930, p.121 (as HdG); Valentiner, II, 1934, no.474, repr. (c.1655; relates to drawing of same subject in private coll., Zurich, Benesch A119, and to Metropolitan painting); Benesch, 1935, p.68 (1660 or later; style like the 'Homer' in Stockholm, Benesch 1066); Bredius, 1937/35, p.25, under no.595 (as Valentiner, 1934); Popham, 1939, p.67 (c.1665); Schinnerer, 1944, no.98, repr. (c.1665); von Alten, 1947, no.99, repr.; Müller-Hofstede, 1956, p.94 (compares 'Homer' in Stockholm, Benesch 1066, which has been doubted by Kruse and Schmidt-Degener, a view with which the writer concurs); Benesch, VI, 1957/73, no.A95, repr. fig.1692/1759 (possibly same hand as the 'Mocking of Christ', Chatsworth, Benesch A82, the 'Pilate washing his Hands' in Zurich, and other works depicting life of Christ, under no.A119 states that BM and Zurich drawings are studies for the Metropolitan painting); Sumowski, 1957-8, p.227 (c.1661; compares Stockholm 'Homer', Benesch 1066); Sumowski, 1958, repr. fig.79 (c.1661); Rosenberg, 1959, p.118 (not convinced by Benesch's group); van Gelder, 1961, p.151 and n.21 (Benesch's rejection 'shocks' him; related to Metropolitan painting - which has been given to de Gelder - as also to drawing of same subject in private collection in Zurich, Benesch A119); Sumowski, 1961, p.27 (by Rembrandt; refuting Benesch, not same hand as Benesch A119; compares 'Homer', Stockholm, Benesch 1066, the 'Presentation' in Heyblock album, Benesch 1057, and Berlin 'Syndics' drawing, Benesch 1178); Sumowski, 1963, p.141, repr. fig.81 (by Rembrandt, c.1661; compares Benesch 1066 ['Homer' in Stockholm] and 1178 ['Study for Syndics', Berlin]); Sumowski, 1979, etc., V, 1981, no.1077xx, repr. (attributes to de Gelder, c.1661-5, comparing - but superior in quality to - 'Seated Oriental', Woodner coll., Sumowski 1055x and 'Death of Jacob', Paris, École des Beaux-Arts, Sumowski 1075xx); Sumowski, 'Gemälde', IV, 1983, p.2957, under no.1957 ('kommt für Aert de Gelder um 1661/65 in Betracht'; the artist of the Metropolitan painting knew this drawing and Benesch A119); Exh. Dresden, 2004, p.160, under no.84 (as Sumowski, 1979, etc.; compares Dresden 'Study of two Women', inv.C.1401, Sumowski 1083xx) and p.210, under no.60, n.3 (reiterating Benesch and relating to Dresden 'Baptism of Christ', inv. C.1312, Benesch A86).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
London, 1899, no.A84 (late, c.1664, for picture in Kann coll., Br.595, now New York, Metropolitan Museum, Sumowski, 'Gemälde', no.1957);
1956, p.22, r. col., no.2;
1992, BM, Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle (not in catalogue, as 'attributed to Aert de Gelder').
- Trimmed, otherwise good; a scrape, perhaps intentional, below the dish.
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: A,22.62