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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Jan Asselyn, painter ('Krabbetje'); three-quarter length to left with left hand on hip, turned to face front; second state with easel with landscape painting burnished out. c.1647 Etching, drypoint and burin on Japan paper

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1647 (circa)
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 213 millimetres
    • Width: 170 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered with Rembrandt's signature and date, in lower right: "Rembr[andt] f. 16[last two digits illegible]".
  • Curator's comments

    For another impression and impressions of other states see also F,6.48; 1843,0513.270; 1868,0822.697 and 1941,0327.11.80. For a copy see 1972,0513.14.

    Selected literature: Mariette 1857, pp. 354-5; Benesch 1926, p. 9; Benesch 1927, p. 22; Boston-New York 1969, no. 1; Amsterdam 1986, pp.45-8; Chapman 1990, p. 83; Dickey 1994, pp. 39-46; White 1999, pp. 152-3.

    Hinterding et al. 2000:
    This etching has always been known as a portrait of the landscape painter Jan Asselijn (c.1614-1652). The earliest confirmation dates from 1668, when the Parisian art dealer Pierre Mariette wrote 'Crabbeten Penter' on an impression [Washington, National Gallery of Art, inv. no. 1943,3.7158 (second state)]. Asselijn's left hand was deformed, and during his stay in Rome fellow-members of the Dutch painters' association, 'De Bentvueghels', nicknamed him 'krabbetje' - Dutch for 'little crab'. It is difficult to say how old he was when the portrait was made, and his date of birth is unknown. He was probably born in Dieppe in northern France, and moved to Amsterdam in 1620. A few cavalry battles are known from his early oeuvre, in the style of Esaias van de Velde, but after his departure for Italy in around 1636 he concentrated on painting Italianate landscapes which met with great success. In 1647 he returned to Amsterdam, where he died, still rather young, in 1652 [For Asselijn's biography, see Steland 1989, p. 11].
    There are three states of the portrait that Rembrandt etched shortly after Asselijn's return to Holland, even though the representation was virtually finished in the first state. Asselijn is shown standing and looking out at the observer, confidently resting his good hand on the table and discreetly tucking the other into his side. He cuts a dashing figure in an elegant, loosely draped coat, with lace cuffs, gloves and a sweeping hat. The only allusion to his occupation are the painter's attributes displayed around him; and he stands in front of a painter's easel, which supports one of his Italianate landscapes. Books, a palette and a few paintbrushes lie on the table. The attributes were simply etched, but the figure was first drawn with the etching needle and then worked up in drypoint and possibly with the burin. This enabled Rembrandt to achieve an unusual tonal effect.
    The plate is Rembrandt's first portrait of a fellow-artist, and it may be no coincidence that he here experimented with different papers, using Japanese, cartridge and possibly even Indian paper. The deep yellow of the Japanese paper tones down the contrast, and Rembrandt applied surface tone to reduce it even further, as in the first impression shown here. The first state on cartridge paper, also shown, looks different: the coarse, pale-yellow paper enlivens the portrait, and as this sheet was printed with little surface tone, it is brighter and the details are sharper.
    The easel and painting were erased in the second state (also illustrated), but traces of them are still visible around the figure. Though the alteration does not improve the spatial effect, the figure of Asselijn is more compelling without the easel towering above him. It is not known when this change was made. At least eighteen impressions of the first state are known, so it is by no means rare, and the second state may date from considerably later, and possibly be the work of another hand. The inscription by Pierre Mariette on an impression of the second state indicates that the state must in any event date from before 1668.
    The traces of the easel in the background of the scene were finally removed in the third state, but it is doubtful whether this was done during Rembrandt's lifetime. There are numerous impressions of this state on -watermarked paper, but all appear to be posthumous prints, and none of these watermarks are found on good, contemporary impressions.


  • Bibliography

    • Muller II 1853 174 bibliographic details
    • Hind 1923 227.II bibliographic details
    • New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 236.II (Rembrandt) bibliographic details
    • White & Boon 1969 277.II bibliographic details
    • Hinterding et al. 2000 56.II bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (D+F XVIIc Mounted Roy)

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Inscribed on verso by Robert Dighton, in pencil: "Bt at Woodhouse"; for more information about Dighton's false provenances see An Van Camp, 'Robert Dighton and his spurious collectors' marks on Rembrandt prints in the British Museum, London', in The Burlington Magazine 155 (2013), pp.88-94.

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • 1982,U.2717
Jan Asselyn, painter ('Krabbetje'); TQL to l with l hand on hip, turned to face front.  c.1647  Etching, drypoint and burin, printed on japan paper

Jan Asselyn, painter ('Krabbetje'); TQL to l with l hand on hip, turned to face front. c.1647 Etching, drypoint and burin, printed on japan paper

Image description



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