- Museum number
St Paul preaching at Athens; numerous figures in a large building, seated and standing, a preacher in a pulpit at right, his arms extended. c.1635-1640
Pen and brown ink (in tones ranging from almost grey to rich dark brown) with brown and reddish-brown wash and some white heightening; touched with red chalk; ruled framing lines in pen and dark brown ink.
Verso: laid down
No watermark visible.
- Production date
- 1635-1640 (circa)
Height: 180 millimetres
Width: 207 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 22mm apart)
- Curator's comments
- Attributed to Eeckhout in H. Bevers, 'Early, Rembrandtesque Drawings by Gerbrand van den Eeckhout', in Master Drawings 48 (2010), p.42, fig.3.
Literature: H. Bevers, in H. Bevers et.al. 'Drawings by Rembrandt and his Pupils: Telling the Difference', exh.cat. The J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2009, cat.no.14.2 (as Eeckhout).
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, cat. no.1.
The subject was common in Italy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries although rare north of the Alps. In the present composition the action appears to take place in an enclosed space; more usually it is seen before classical buildings, as in the most celebrated representation of the subject, that by Raphael for the Vatican tapestries (engraved by Marcantonio Raimondi).
The drawing was long attributed to Rembrandt and variously dated between c.1630-40. Yet only general stylistic analogies exist with Rembrandt's own work of the 1630s. The few finished and undoubted composition drawings of the period, such as the study for 'Judas repentant' formerly in the Albertina of c.1629 (Benesch 8), the signed 'Christ among his Apostles' at Haarlem of 1634 (Benesch 89), the 'Ganymede' of 1635 in Dresden (Benesch 92) and the British Museum's 'Lamentation' (here cat. no.9; Oo,9.103) are so far removed in style and technique from the present drawing that the attribution to Rembrandt appears unsustainable. Closer, perhaps, are two composition studies, the 'Group of Horsemen' in Rotterdam (Benesch 151; Rotterdam, 1988, no.4) and the 'Pilate and his Wife's Servant' in the F. Lugt Collection, Institut Néerlandais, Paris (Benesch 139), which are, however, drawn with considerably greater precision.
The style, with its simplified, geometrical shorthand for the forms and facial features, depends on Rembrandt's in the mid-1630s as represented, for example, by the two last-named drawings and by his preliminary studies in Berlin (Benesch 140-1) for the Berlin painting of 'St John the Baptist preaching' (Bredius 555, Corpus A106). Indeed the painting, with its many groups of listening figures, may partly have inspired the present design. It therefore seems likely to have been drawn by a studio assistant or pupil of Rembrandt, active in his workshop in the mid- to later 1630s, during and immediately after the completion of the Berlin painting, now usually dated c.1634. Of the known possible students, Gerbrand van den Eeckhout made the drawings that provide the closest analogies with the present work. The comparisons are mitigated by the date in the 1640s – several years later than the British Museum's sheet – of the earliest drawings that can be securely attributed to van den Eeckhout. Nevertheless the points of comparison provided by the latter's preparatory study in Braunschweig for his painting of 'Gideon's Sacrifice' in a private collection in Hamburg are significant (Sumowski 601). They include the facial profiles of St Paul and Gideon, with the fish-like anatomy of their mouths; the somewhat loose delineation of their legs and feet; the characterisation of the angel which resembles several of the listeners in the present drawing, some of the faces being rendered in a similar shorthand; the lack of effective spacial recession; the unvaried tone of the wash applied in the background; and the unruly calligraphy of the subsidiary penwork. These characteristics are far removed from anything certainly by Rembrandt and lend support to the attribution to van den Eeckhout. They also appear in other drawings that have been associated with the latter.
This assessment has repercussions for the attribution of two other drawings that are usually given to Rembrandt but which seem to be by the same hand. These are the 'Departure of Rebecca', now in Stuttgart (Benesch 147) and the 'Young Solomon riding on a Mule' in the Louvre (Benesch 146).
 Bartsch, XIV, p.50, no.44; see further Pigler, 1956, I, pp.390f. The subject was first identified by Colvin in Exh. London, 1899. Prior to this the drawing may for a time have been attributed to van Vliet, whose name appears in graphite in the register above its entry as by Rembrandt.
 The painting is Sumowski, 'Gemälde', II, 1983, no.392, repr.
 Including the 'Mercury and Argus' in the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam, 1942, no.119, repr. pl.89, attributed to van den Eeckhout by Schatborn, 1985, p.98, fig.8), the copy after van den Eeckhout in Rotterdam of the 'Departure of Rebecca' (see the literature in n.4) and the 'Christ and the Adulteress' in Copenhagen (Sumowski, III, 1980, no.642, repr.).
 See Sumowski, III, 1980, no.806xx; Rotterdam, 1988, no.68 for the former, as well as for the copy mentioned in n.3 above. The Paris drawing does not appear to have been associated with van den Eeckhout before, but was omitted by Emmanuel Starcky in his account of all Rembrandt's drawings in the Louvre (Exh. Paris, Louvre, Cabinet des dessins, 1988-9).
LITERATURE (always as Rembrandt unless stated otherwise):
Lippmann, IV, no.80; Kleinmann, IV, no.19; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.876 (c.1630); Valentiner, 1907, p.162, n.1 (perhaps by Koninck, of 'Baptist preaching'); Wurzbach, 1910, p.417; Hind, 1912, I, p.51 (colourless line); London, 1915, no.15 (c.1630-35; the basis of P. Koninck's style); Backer and Veth, 1916-17, pp.79-80, repr. fig.2 (influenced by Carpaccio; related to etching of 'Christ preaching', Bartsch 67, Hind 256); Hirschmann, 1918, p.22 (not Rembrandt); Stockholm, 1920, under nos II, 7 and IV, 18, repr. fig.72 (probably school work); Valentiner, I, 1925, p.XXVI, repr. p.XIX (P. Koninck); Hind, 1926, p.9 (paraphe not evidence of authorship); Falck, 1927, p.178 (Koninck after Rembrandt); Paris, 1933, p.4, under no.1116 (c.1630; stylistically related to Louvre 'Triumphal procession' [Benesch 146]); Valentiner, II, 1934, no.551, repr. (Rembrandt, c.1630); Benesch, 1935, p.24 (c.1636); Gerson, 1936, pp.74-5 and 174-5, no.Z.LXXI (c.1635); Benesch, 1947, p.25, under no.90 (mid-1630s); Beck, 1949, pp.114-17 (c.1630; reflects Raphael); Benesch, 1954/73, I, no.138, repr. fig.148/165 (c.1637); Sumowski, 1957/58, p.262 (early 1630s); Sumowski, 1963, p.199, repr. fig.114 (c.1630; notes other representations of St Paul by Rembrandt and school); Slive, 1965, II, no.529 (c.1637); Sumowski, III, 1980, under no.806xx; Amsterdam, 1981, p.154, under no.42, n.6 (quoting Valentiner, 1925); Starcky, 1985, p.259 (compares 'Solomon's Idolatry', Louvre, Benesch 136, placed c.1636-8); White, 1992, p.268 (not Rembrandt but Eeckhout not convincing either); Schatborn, 1994, p.24 (agrees with Exh. London, 1992); Giltaij, 1995, p.102 (inscribed 'Remb'); Berlin, 2006, p.195 (as Exh. London, 1992).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1899, London, BM, no.A2 (c.1630; ‘St Paul at Athens?’);
1938, no.15 (c.1630-35);
1992, no.97, repr. in colour (as by van den Eeckhout)
2009/10 Dec-Feb, Los Angeles, J Paul Getty Museum, Rembrandt and pupils
- Generally good; the lower left corner has been torn off and replaced, but the work in this area does not seem to be by a different hand (pace Benesch); to judge from a few lines at the edges the sheet has been slightly trimmed; two short vertical tears at top edge, left of centre; a smudge of dirt in the arch, upper right.
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: FAWK,5213.7