The angel appearing to the shepherds; a shepherd seen kneeling below to l, cattle and sheep in the foreground, the moon rising beyond Pen and brown ink, and brown and grey wash


© The Trustees of the British Museum

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Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: SL,5237.61

Additional IDs

Bibliographic reference
Royalton-Kisch 2010 101 (anonymous Rembrandt School)
Hind 1915-31 149

Dutch Roy XVIIc

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Object types
drawing (scope note | all objects)

paper (all objects)
drawn (scope note | all objects)
Production person
Circle/School of Rembrandt (anonymous) (biographical details | all objects)
1640-1645 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

The angel appearing to the shepherds; a shepherd seen kneeling below to left, cattle and sheep in the foreground, the moon rising beyond

Pen and brown ink with grey and brown wash.

Verso: blank.

Watermark: Countermark 'PH' (similar to Laurentius p.228, no.533b, datable 1644).

Inscription Content: Inscribed verso, in graphite, top centre, in an 18th cent (?) hand: 'Rembrant'.

Height: 177 millimetres
Width: 256 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 24/6mm apart)

A little rubbed; trimmed on all sides.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, anonymous Rembrandt School, cat. no.101.
Although listed in the Sloane inventory of 1845 as a 'very effective' work by Rembrandt, its traditional attribution had already been doubted before the end of the nineteenth century.[1] The lame penwork, especially evident in the background details near the main figure, suggests that it is a copy. A variant, of similar quality, is in a private collection in the Netherlands.[2]
While both works may depend on the same original, it seems unlikely that the prototype was by Rembrandt. The style resembles that of the group of drawings of the 1640s that has recently been attributed, with due hesitation, to Carel Fabritius.[3] A date in the earlier or mid-1640s for the present sheet is also suggested by the watermark.

[1] E.g. by Vosmaer, loc. cit.. The drawing was omitted from Exh. London, 1899, and thus presumably considered a school work within the British Museum by then.
[2] See Bolten and Folmer-van Oven, 1989, no.53 (attributed to Ferdinand Bol). Pen and brown and black ink and brown wash (and later grey wash). 162 x 184. Formerly in the C. Kramm collection, sold Utrecht, Beyer's, 27 November 1937, lot 156 as Rembrandt. The sheet has been cut, and shows more animals below the angel, among other differences.
[3] See Amsterdam, 1985, nos.61-6, especially nos 63-4. The latter, also a copy, seems particularly close. The kneeling figure in the 'Angel appearing to the Shepherds' also resembles, in reverse, the figure in the lower right foreground of Fabritius' painting of the 'Raising of Lazarus' in Warsaw (Brown, 1981, no.1, repr.).

Bürger, 1858, p.398 (Rembrandt, 'dessin capital'; for the etching, Bartsch 44, Hind 120); Blanc, II, 1861, p.453 (Rembrandt); Vosmaer, 1877, p.587 ('douteuse'); Dutuit, IV, 1885, p.86 ('douteuse'); London, 1915, no.149 (perhaps a copy after Rembrandt); Exh. London, 1992, pp.9-10, repr. fig.i (school; attributional history).

angels appearing to shepherds (all objects)

Acquisition date

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

Exhibition History
1992, BM, Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle (not in catalogue; as copy after Rembrandt).

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