Study of a seated woman; turned almost to front, looking to l, wearing a simple dress with apron and a cap Pen and brown ink, with brown wash, on brown prepared paper


© The Trustees of the British Museum

Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: 1935,1012.4

Bibliographic reference
Royalton-Kisch 2010 118 (anonymous Rembrandt School)
Hind 1923 Add.184 (placed before Hind 115)
Benesch 1973 Add.A105 (unpublished designation; see n.1 under Comment)

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)
1645-1655 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

A seated woman; turned almost to front, looking to left, wearing a simple dress with apron and a cap. c.1645-55
Pen and brown ink with brown wash and some white heightening, on paper prepared with brown wash; framing lines in pen and brown ink.
Verso: see Inscriptions.
Watermark: foolscap, similar to Churchill 341 of 1644, but with two, not three bells on the points of the collar.

Inscription Content: Inscribed on a strip of paper added to the old backing as if part of the original drawing, in pen and brown ink: 'de moeder van Rembrant'.

Height: 190 millimetres (excluding added strip below; chain lines vertical, 24/25mm apart)
Width: 134 millimetres

Generally good; a vertical scrape by the woman’s stomach; a small loss in her skirt, lower right; the drawing stuck down on off-white card with a single framing-line in pen and brown ink (not the same ink as the drawing), the mat stuck onto thick white paper. The drawing was lifted, beta-radiographed, and the verso photographed in 1992 (negative no. PS 248602).

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, anonymous Rembrandt School, cat. no.118.
Despite the drawing's distinguished provenance, having long been paired with Rembrandt's 'Self-Portrait in studio Attire' now in the Rembrandthuis (Benesch 1171), which carries a similar Dutch inscription, the drawing has not been accepted as Rembrandt's work in the literature.[4] In style, however, it is generally dependent on his drawings of c.1645-55, and could have been made in his studio at that time.[5]
The model's features bear no resemblance to those of Rembrandt's mother, as seen in works of the Leiden period. More probably, to judge from the costume, a maidservant sat for the drawing.

[1] Unpublished designations.
[2] As first recognised by Frerichs, 1970 (see Lit. below). She noted that according to Mariette, most of Crozat's Rembrandt drawings came from Roger de Piles, who acquired them on his diplomatic mission to Amsterdam in 1693. It may be that the drawing was made up as a pair to the 'Self-Portrait' in the Rembrandthuis, Benesch 1171, at that time, and the Dutch inscriptions then added. It is worth recording here the sale of two other drawings that claimed to show Rembrandt's mother: 1) that in the John Heywood Hawkins sale, Sotheby's, 29 April, 1850, lot 1035, 'Rembrandt's Mother sitting. A MOST ELABORATE DRAWING IN PEN AND INK', bt Meyer, £2; and 2) Earl of Aylesford sale, Christie's, 7 July 1893, lot 266: 'PORTRAIT OF AN OLD WOMAN, called Rembrandt's Mother'.
[3] The drawing was lifted and the verso photographed, and beta-radiographed, in 1992 but has now been stuck down as before (see further under Condition above).
[4] Hofstede de Groot, 1906, does not list the drawing, nor does he mention it when describing its pair, his no.994. A copy of the Rembrandthuis drawing by Samuel Woodforde is in the British Museum (inv. 2000,0129.1).
[5] I know of no other closely comparable drawing.

Hind, 1936, p.86 (possibly by Maes, resembles Rembrandt c.1650; perhaps of a serving woman in Rembrandt's household; inscription earlier than Ploos van Amstel; was with Rembrandt's 'Self-Portrait', Amsterdam, Rembrandthuis, Benesch 1171, in Crozat Collection, 1741, no.867; the two drawings companions until 1912; ex-Heseltine sale); Benesch, 1947, under no.250 (by a pupil of Rembrandt; inscribed below by Ploos van Amstel; companion to Rembrandthuis 'Self-Portrait'); Benesch, V, 1957/73, under no.1171 and VI, 1957/73, under no.A105 (as Benesch, 1947; his no.ad. A105; also compares style of 'Young Woman asleep in a Chair' now in Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, Benesch A105, Sumowski 1972x as by Maes); Frerichs, 1970, pp.37-43, repr. pl.7, and p.71 (quotes Hind, 1936, but reminiscent of Renesse; identifies Mariette's handwriting in the French inscription; see further above, also n.1); Amsterdam, 1972, under no.1 (as Frerichs, 1970); Sumowski, 1979, etc., vol.VIII, 1984, under no.1972x (refutes Benesch, 1947; the drawing to be his forthcoming no.2644, anonymous).

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Funded by Isaac de Bruijn (using part of a gift of £100) (biographical details | all objects)
Purchased from R E A Wilson (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection John Postle Heseltine (sale Sotheby's 28.v.1935/190 (bt Wilson £52)) (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Pierre Crozat (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition notes
Pierre Crozat (see verso inscription by Mariette, who catalogued Crozat’s collection; in the Crozat sale catalogue, Mariette recorded that most of the Rembrandt drawings came from Roger de Piles, who had acquired them in the Netherlands in 1693); his sale, Paris, 10 April - 13 May, 1741, part of lot 867 (comprising 30 drawings, including ‘son Portrait & celui de sa Mere, faits par lui-même’); J.P. Heseltine (L.1508 on verso of old backing); his sale, Sotheby’s, 28 May, 1935, lot 190; presented by I. de Bruijn, 1935 (using funds that he had donated). Inscribed on a piece of white paper attached to the old backing, in pen and dark brown ink, by P.-J. Mariette (1694-1774):* 'La mere de Rembrant'; on verso, below, in red chalk: 'A [or N?] 3/ no. 5 [? or 7 or 8] - 14';** on the verso of the backing, in graphite: '? Crozat Colln lot 867./ bot. with the portrait of Rt by himself'. *Please see n.2 under Comment. **Please see n.3 under Comment.

Exhibition History
1992, BM, Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle (not in catalogue, as School of Rembrandt).

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