COMPASS Title: Rembrandt van Rijn, The Bend in the Amstel, a drawing


© The Trustees of the British Museum

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Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: 1984,1110.9

Bibliographic reference
Benesch 1973 1266
Royalton-Kisch 2010 67 (Rembrandt)

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 Rembrandt (biographical details | all objects)
1650 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

Landscape: the bend in the Amstel at Kostverloren House, with a dug-out in the foreground; the tower of the house seen above trees. c.1650

Reed pen and brown ink with brown wash, touched with white, on paper prepared with brown wash (on the recto only); ruled framing lines on three sides (not at top) in pen and brown ink.

Verso: see Inscriptions.

No watermark.

Inscription Content: Verso, in pencil, centre: '45', and lower left 'HdG 838' (both modern).

Height: 145 millimetres (chain lines vertical, 35mm apart)
Width: 213 millimetres

Good; lightly foxed.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, Rembrandt, cat. no.67.
The Amstel River at Kostverloren (literally 'money wasted', so-named because of the expenditure squandered on the house's construction and upkeep), situated a few miles south of Amsterdam, was a favourite haunt of seventeenth-century Dutch artists. As well as Rembrandt, who drew the scene six times, there are views of the house by Simon Frisius, Claes Jansz. Visscher, Jacob van Ruisdael and Meindert Hobbema.[1] First built in around 1420 and enlarged at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the house is believed to have been damaged by fire in around 1650, leaving its tower standing until it, too, was demolished in 1658.[2] Most of Rembrandt's drawn views appear to have been executed in about 1650; whether they were prompted by the conflagration, as was the case with his sketch of 'Amsterdam Town Hall after the Fire of 1652' (Rembrandthuis, Benesch 1278), it is impossible to know.[3]
Three of them, including the present sheet, depict much the same view. Perhaps the earliest is the other version in the Museum's collection, here cat. no.81 (1932,1210.1), which however may be a pupil's work. It has the cursory appearance of an on-the-spot sketch. Although seen from a similar angle, the artist's position was nearer the buildings and it omits the tower of the house, either because of an oversight or because it was obscured behind the trees. The second version may have been the drawing still at Chatsworth (Benesch 1265). Perhaps drawn with a quill rather than a reed pen and on a different, 'oatmeal' paper, its style is somewhat freer, capturing a sense of the atmosphere which suggests that it may have been made from nature. The vantage-point is some yards further to the left and at a greater distance from the house.[4] The present drawing was made from behind the dug-out in the ground which is visible in the lower right corner of the Chatsworth sheet.
Beside the Chatsworth drawing it is clear that the present drawing is a more studied production. The prepared paper, the deliberate balance of the composition and the more uniform handling of the reed pen suggest both that it is a finished work of art in its own right and that it may have been drawn with the knowledge already gained through the other two versions. Yet in spite of its apparent 'finish' it may also have been drawn out of doors rather than in the studio, the details of the foliage and buildings and the recession into depth being understood as if from first-hand observation, which is not universally the case in Rembrandt's landscape drawings.[5]
Another view of the same bend in the Amstel river, but drawn from a more distant viewpoint and in a sparser manner, is at Chatsworth (Benesch 1268). Two more drawings from Chatsworth, the completed 'View on the Amsteldijk near the Trompenburg Estate' (Benesch 1218) and the 'Rampart near the Bulwark at the St Anthoniesdijk' (Benesch 1217, the latter now in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York) seem particularly close to the present sheet in style and are also on paper prepared with horizontal strokes of brown wash, though of a slightly more sombre tone. A date towards 1650 seems acceptable on the basis of a comparison with the Oxford drawing of 'Farm Buildings beside a Road' (Benesch 1227), loosely related to the etched 'Landscape with a Milkman' of about that year (Bartsch 213, Hind 242).
Rembrandt's two other views of Kostverloren, in Dresden and Chicago (HdG.321 [not in Benesch] and Benesch 1270 respectively), are taken from different angles and concentrate on the building itself.[6]

[1] The Frisius is Holl.35 , Visscher produced an etching (Simon 143; Holl.141) repr. Irene de Groot, 'Landscape Etchings by the Dutch Masters [...]', London, 1979, fig.22 and drawings (see Peeters and Schmitz, 1997); for the Ruisdael and Hobbema, see Exh. Brussels-Rotterdam-Paris-Bern, 1968-9, p.128. A drawing in Amsterdam by Anthonie Beerstraten is repr. de la Fontaine Verwey and van Eeghen, 1969, pl.II.
[2] For the building, see de La Fontaine Verwey and van Eeghen, 1969, and Slive, 1988. After the fire the house was sold by its owner, Gerrit van Nath, to his brother, Dirck.
[3] The 'Amsterdam Town Hall' seems to have been drawn almost immediately after the fire. Kostverloren also appears in the distance in Rembrandt's etching of 1641, 'Landscape with a Cottage and Haybarn' (Bartsch 225, Hind 177).
[4] The Chatsworth drawing measures 136 x 249 (horizontal chain lines, 23/24mm apart). This includes the section to the right that Benesch and others have described as an added strip, but which is in fact only an old crease from a fold. (The left-hand section of the Museum's sheet, cat. no.81; 1932,1210.1, seems to have been trimmed away.)
[5] Compare, for example, the 'Amsteldijk near the Trompenburg Estate' in the Louvre, Benesch 1220 recto, which was probably drawn in the studio. The drawing has been rejected, wrongly in my view, by Schneider in Exh. Washington, 1990, p.229 and questioned by Schatborn, 1990[I], p.34, but reinstated with hesitation by Carel van Tuyll van Serooskerken in Exh. Paris, 2006-7[I], cat. no.46. The characteristic sketch on the verso, identified by Benesch as of Kostverloren, could also be of Trompenburg.
[6] The Dresden drawing, now generally accepted, is repr. Lipp.IV, 18 (Slive, 1965, II, no.461), in Exh. Washington, 1990, p.225, fig.1 and Exh. Dresden, 2004, no.110. The Washington catalogue, p.226 n.3, rejected the Chicago drawing. See also the comments on Benesch 1220 verso in note 5.

LITERATURE (always as Rembrandt):
Michel, 1893, p.493, repr., and p.581 (relates to two other versions at Chatsworth); Seidlitz, 1894, p.124; Lippmann, I, no.67; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.838; Hind, 1908, no.25, repr. (as of a 'Bend in the Amstel', comparing Chatsworth drawings, subjects then unidentified, Benesch 1218, 1265 and 1347); Lugt, 1915, p.109, repr. fig.68 (identifies as of Kostverloren, comparing Chatsworth Benesch 1265 in particular, and the Dresden drawing, HdG.321, on which see above); Lugt, 1920, p.112, repr. fig.68 (as Lugt, 1915); Benesch, 1935, p.42 (c.1648-9); Benesch, 1935[I], p.265; Wimmer, 1935, pp.18-20 and p.36 (c.1645-50; compares other Chatsworth drawings and HdG.1072, Lugt coll.); Poortenaar, 1943, p.15, and no.62, repr; Benesch, 1947, p.35, under no.154 (listing other drawings of the same scene); Winzinger, 1953, no.20, repr. (c.1648-50); Benesch, VI, 1957/73, no.1266, repr. fig.1493/1574 (c.1651-2; follows Lugt, 1920); Williamstown, 1964, p.21, under no.17 (on Rembrandt's use of toned paper, also used by Segers for etchings); Slive, 1965, I, no.67, repr.(c.1650); Rosenberg, 1967, pp.189-90, repr. fig.141 (a sensitive description); Bernhard, 1976, II, repr. p.442; 'British Museum Report of the Trustees, 1984-7', 1987, p.57, repr; Slive, 1988, p.135, repr. p.155, figs.6-8 (early 1650s; other views by various artists discussed); Exh. Washington, 1990, pp.26, 31 n.31, 135 n.2, 153, 221 and 225-6, repr. fig.3 (probably drawn from life; lists other drawings of the same view and drawings and a print on toned paper); Schatborn, 1990[I], p.36, repr. p.38, fig.10 (not directly related to cat. no.81; 1932,1210.1); Royalton-Kisch, 1991, p.16, repr. fig.11 (work of art in its own right, possibly worked up from notations made on the spot); Exh. Berlin-Amsterdam-London, 1991-2[I], pp.106-8, repr. fig.30b; Schatborn, 1994, p.23; Exh. Amsterdam-Paris, 1998-9, p.286, repr. fig.7.

Associated places
Topographic representation of Amsterdam (near) (all objects)

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Purchased through Christie's (3.vii.1984/64) (biographical details | all objects)
Purchased through Artemis Fine Arts (biographical details | all objects)
With contribution from National Heritage Memorial Fund (biographical details | all objects)
With contribution from George Bernard Shaw Fund (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Nicolaes Anthoni Flinck (L.959) (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection William Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Devonshire (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition notes
N.A. Flinck (L.959); his collection bt in 1723 by William Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Devonshire (Chatsworth no.1024); sold by the Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement, Christie’s, 3 July, 1984, lot 64, bt Artemis, £648,000; purchased (after an export licence had been temporarily withheld) by the British Museum with £568,160 contributed by the National Heritage Memorial Fund and £101,944 contributed by the George Bernard Shaw Fund, 1984.

Exhibition History
London, Royal Academy, 1929, no.601 (1929[I], p.206, no.201);
London, Royal Academy, 1938, no.558 (repr. in the 'Illustrated Souvenir');
Arts Council, 1949, no.33;
London, Royal Academy, 1953, no.312;
Rotterdam-Amsterdam, 1956, no.151 (c.1648-9; otherwise as Benesch, 1947);
London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, no.92, repr;
Tokyo, 1975, no.83;
London, BM, 1992, 'Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle', no.78, repr. in colour;
BM, 2006, 'Rembrandt: a 400th anniversary display' (no cat.)

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