The stoning of St Stephen; the saint, who has fallen on his back, is dragged away towards the r by two men, in the l foreground a turbaned officer gives directions to a group of men, a dog to r, the walls of the town behind Pen and brown ink, with brown and red-brown wash, over black chalk


© The Trustees of the British Museum

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  • VersoVerso
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Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: SL,5236.124

Additional IDs

Bibliographic reference
Hind 1915-31 1 (as Vliet)
Sumowski 1979 continuing 1622x
Hind 1915-31 Add.28f
Royalton-Kisch 2010 Lievens.J.1

Dutch Roy XVIIc

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Object types
drawing (scope note | all objects)

paper (all objects)
drawn (scope note | all objects)
Production person
Drawn by Jan Lievens (biographical details | all objects)
Formerly attributed to Jan van Vliet (biographical details | all objects)
1620-1625 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

The Stoning of St Paul in Lystra; formerly the stoning of St Stephen, the saint, who has fallen on his back, is dragged away towards the right by two men, in the left foreground a turbaned officer gives directions to a group of men, a dog to right, the walls of the town behind. c.1620-25

Pen and brown ink with brown wash, touched with white bodycolour, over indications in black chalk.

Verso: blank (see inscriptions)

Watermark: arms of Burgundy and Austria (see Hinterding catalogue, pp.42-4 and 339-41, where dated 1632 or 1631-2). The mark also appears in the etching of ‘The Beheading of the Baptist’ (Bartsch 93, Hind 308), which is variously attributed to Rembrandt, Lievens and Van Vliet, and generally dated c.1627).

Inscription Content: Inscribed verso, in black chalk: ‘goed [?] teijkeninge [?]’.

Height: 240 millimetres
Width: 310 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 27mm apart)

Somewhat rubbed and worn; slight losses and minor tears at edges; a few creases.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, Jan Lievens, cat. no.1:
The subject of the drawing, although not completely certain, is probably the 'Stoning of St Paul at Lystra' as related in the 'Acts of the Apostles', XIV, xix.[1] St Paul was stoned by the Jews who then dragged him outside the city walls and left him for dead; but he was surrounded by Christian converts and recovered.
The attribution of the drawing has wavered between Rembrandt, Jan Lievens and, less credibly, Jan van Vliet and Claes Cornelisz. Moeyaert. For Rembrandt speak the analogies in chiaroscuro and composition with his earliest dated painting, the 'Stoning of Stephen' of 1625 now in Lyons.[2] The figure bending to retrieve a stone towards the lower left also resembles the type of 'self-portrait' figures that Rembrandt included in this and other early paintings. Stylistic similarities also exist with one of his first etchings, the 'Circumcision' of around 1626.[3] The attribution to Van Vliet is more speculative, and not supported by the few drawings that have been associated with him.[4]
For Jan Lievens speaks the comparable style of a number of his early drawings, in particular the 'Mercury and Argus' now in Dresden, which is a study for his own etching of the subject.[5] For this reason the attribution to Lievens is adhered to here, despite the slightly more nervous energy of line in the Dresden sheet. Other drawings by Lievens, though unsigned and unrelated to other works by him, also seem to be by the same hand, including the 'Mucius Scaevola and Porsenna' now in Leiden, and the 'Moses praying during the Battle against the Amalekites' in the Museum in Leipzig.[6] These drawings have also at times been attributed to the young Rembrandt, a possibility that in the case of the present drawing – given the similarity of his and Lievens' works in the early to mid-1620s as also the watermark, which is later than might be expected for a Lievens drawing in this style – cannot be wholly excluded.

[1] The subject was previously identified as the 'Stoning of St Stephen', but the more probable identification as the 'Stoning of St Paul' was persuasively argued by Pigler, 1939 (see Lit. below).
[2] Corpus, A1.
[3] White and Boon, 1969, p.165, no.S398, repr.; Hind 388. Rosenberg, 1956, p.351, was among the first to doubt the attribution of many supposedly early drawings to Rembrandt.
[4] To those listed by Sumowski under no.2348xx may be added the 'Head of an old Man' in black chalk recently acquired by the Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam, which is inscribed with Van Vliet's name on the verso in an early hand.
[5] Sumowski 1588, for the etching Bartsch10, Hollstein 18.
[6] Respectively Sumowski nos.1623x and 1624x , repr. (inv. nos. AW 903 and N.I.4922).

LITERATURE (as Lievens unless otherwise stated):
London, 1915, p.95, no.1, repr. pl.LXIII (Van Vliet; compares his etchings; quotes opinion of Hofstede de Groot that it is nearer to Moeyaert; notes comparability of etchings [now considered to be by Rembrandt] of 'Circumcision' and 'Rest on the Flight'); Hirschmann, 1916, p.409, n.1 (Moeyaert); Hirschmann, 1918, p.24 (Moeyaert, suggested by Hofstede de Groot); Lutjens, 1921, p.98, n.2 (Van Vliet, c.1633); Hind, 1924, I, under no.388 (follows old attribution to Van Vliet; compares Rembrandt's etching of the 'Circumcision'); Bauch, 1933, pp.178-9 (early Lievens); Bauch, 1939, p.241-5, repr. fig.162 (states that Lutjens attributed the drawing to Van Vliet; compares Welcker drawing of 'Mucius Scaevola' [now Leiden, AW 903; Sumowski 1623x] and Dresden 'Mercury and Argus' [Sumowski 1588]); Pigler, 1939, pp.230-31, repr. fig.5 (Van Vliet; identifies subject as 'Stoning of St Paul'); Van Gelder, 1949, p.207 (Rembrandt); Van Gelder, 1953, p.280, repr. pl.V, fig.8 (Rembrandt; as also Welcker/Leiden drawing); Knuttel, 1955, p.49 (not by Rembrandt, nor same hand as Welcker/Leiden drawing); Pigler, 1956, I, p.390 (as 'Stoning of St Paul'); Bauch, 1960, p.216; Gerson, 1962, unpaginated, n.7 (probably Rembrandt); Slive, 1963, pp.133-6, repr. fig.15 (early 1620s; likely of St Paul); Bauch, 1967, p.164 (Lievens influenced by Lastman and Rembrandt); Schneider-Ekkart, 1973, p.383, no.SZ410 (perhaps 'Stoning of St Paul', or 'Stephen'); Sumowski, 1980, p.11 (early Lievens, in Rembrandt's manner); Ozaki, 1982, repr. fig.30 (Lievens); Sumowski, 1979 etc., VII, 1983, no.1622x, repr. (Lievens, from a group of ten surviving drawings dating from period of Rembrandt's painting of 'Stoning of St Stephen' in Lyons [dated 1625; Corpus, I, no.A1]); Exh. Washington-Milwaukee-Amsterdam, 2008-9, no.88, repr. (Lievens, c.1621-3).

saint/martyr (scope note | all objects)

Associated names
Representation of St Stephen (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Bequeathed by Sir Hans Sloane (biographical details | all objects)

Exhibition History
1979, Braunschweig, pp.17 and 28 and no.50, repr. fig.140 (Lievens, c.1626; compares Welcker/Leiden Mucius Scaevola [Sumowski 1623X]; uncertain iconography – St Paul a possibility);
1992, BM, Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle (not in catalogue, as Lievens)
2008/9 Oct-Jan, Washington, NG of Art, Jan Lievens (1607-1674), no.88
2009 Feb-April, Milwaukee Art Museum, Jan Lievens (1607-1674), no.88

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