Unknown biblical subject: two men standing in conversation in the l foreground, with a group of figures resting beyond, and two camels behind Pen and brown ink, touched with brown wash and white Verso: Figure studies, including the Return of the Prodigal Son Pen and brown ink; brush drawing in brown ink and wash, touched with white


© The Trustees of the British Museum

  • VersoVerso

Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: 1905,1110.69

Bibliographic reference
Sumowski 1979 continuing 2176x (verso)
Sumowski 1979 continuing 2177x (recto)
Hind 1915-31 4
Royalton-Kisch 2010 Renesse.5

Dutch Roy XVIIc

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Object types
drawing (scope note | all objects)

paper (all objects)
drawn (scope note | all objects)
Production person
Attributed to Constantyn Daniël van Renesse (biographical details | all objects)
1650-1652 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

Laban searching for the Idols; two men standing in conversation in the left foreground, with a group of figures resting beyond, and two camels behind. c.1650-52

Pen and brown ink with brown wash (rubbed with the finger), heightened with white.

Verso: ‘Studies for the Return of the Prodigal Son’

No watermark.

Inscription Content: Inscribed verso, in graphite: ‘69 [the Museum number]’.

Height: 192 millimetres
Width: 265 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 25mm apart)

Some accidental wash stains, which appear to be original; some general discolouration, otherwise good.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, Constantijn Daniël van Renesse, cat. no.5:
The subject has been identified as from Genesis 31, xxx-xxxv, with Laban searching for the Idols, which are hidden in a camel bag on which Rachel is seated.[1]
The attribution is tentative. The spindly pen-lines and ragged outlines of the recto have only a marginal relationship to those drawings that may be ascribed to Van Renesse with some degree of certainty. Like cat. no.6 (1884,1108.6*), which it resembles in style, the drawing stands at the perimeter of his oeuvre. The verso, with its greater use of white heightening, has marginally more convincing analogies with Van Renesse's signed drawing of a historical scene now in Weimar.[2] Another, unpublished drawing, apparently by the same hand and representing 'Job lying on the Dunghill and mocked by his Friends', was on the art market in 1990.[3] The hesitation in the outlines suggests that, if by Van Renesse, these are early works.
The depiction of the 'Prodigal Son' on the verso, with the open window above, is inspired by Rembrandt's etching of 1636.[4] The composition also resembles that of another, more finished drawing of the subject attributed to Van Renesse, and the present sketch may have been a preparatory study for it.[5]

[1] Thus identified by Sumowski in 1965, on the basis of the painting by Pieter Lastman in Boulogne (see Lit. below). The subject had previously been suggested verbally by J.N. van Wessem on the basis of Jan Steen's painting in the Lakenhal, Leiden, and by Horst Gerson (notes in British Museum files).
[2] Weimar, Schlossmuseum, inv. no. KK 5320 (Sumowski 2150, repr.).
[3] Phillips, London, 12 December, 1990, lot 158, repr. (the catalogue refers to Professor Sumowski, who compared the drawing to the present sheet).
[4] Bartsch 91, Hind 147.
[5] Abrams collection (formerly with Houthakker of Amsterdam), Sumowski 2162x. Sumowski dates the British Museum sheet c.1660, too late for it to have been a study for the Abrams version which he dates c.1649-50.

London, 1915, p.92, no.4, repr. pl.LXI (Renesse); Stockholm, 1920, p.39; Exh. Amsterdam, 1964, p.32, under no.83 (comparing drawing then with Hourhakker and now in Abrams collection [see note 5 above]); Sumowski, 1965[I], p.255, n.16 and n.18 (identifies subject; verso a study for ex-Houthakker version [see note 5 above]); Sumowski, 1979 etc., IX, 1985, pp.4886-8, nos.2176x and 2177x (see notes 2 and 5 above; compares verso – no longer seen as a study for the Amsterdam version - with version of the subject in Abrams collection, Sumowski 2162x; dates c.1660).

parable of prodigal son (scope note | all objects)
old testament (all objects)

Associated names
Representation of Prodigal Son (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Purchased from Colnaghi (as 'school of Rembrandt') (biographical details | all objects)

Exhibition History
London, 1956, p.32, no.1;
1992, BM, Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle (not in catalogue).

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