Joseph waiting on his fellow prisoers; Joseph descending steps at r, Pharaoh's baker and butler to l, one seated, the other lying beneath an archway. c.1650-60 Brush drawing in grey-brown ink, with grey-brown wash, heightened with white


© The Trustees of the British Museum

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Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: Gg,2.249

Bibliographic reference
Sumowski 1979 continuing 1082xx
Royalton-Kisch 2010 114 (anonymous Rembrandt School)
Hind 1915-31 83 (as 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
Formerly attributed to Arent de Gelder (biographical details | all objects)
Circle/School of Rembrandt (anonymous) (biographical details | all objects)
Formerly attributed to Rembrandt (biographical details | all objects)
1660-1665 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

Joseph waiting on his fellow prisoers; Joseph descending steps at r, Pharaoh’s baker and butler to left, one seated, the other lying beneath an archway. c.1660-65

Reed pen and brown ink and greyish brown wash, heightened with white; framing lines in pen and brown ink.

Verso: see Inscriptions.

Watermark: arms of Amsterdam in a shield, similar to Churchill 4 (datable 1659) but without the ‘arch’ immediately above the lily in the crown.

Inscription Content: Verso, Cracherode’s inscription in brown ink: 'CMC. 1787'; top left, in graphite: '441 Uit [...]/ no 13 [...] 1759 [?]'.

Height: 190 millimetres (arched top; chain lines vertical, 24mm apart)
Width: 197 millimetres (top arched)

Good; a few foxmarks, upper right; small repair at top right corner and small loss from upper right edge; other tiny losses at the left edge.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, anonymous Rembrandt School, cat. no.114.
For the subject, see Willem Drost, cat. no.3 (1855,1013.39) and the anonymous drawing, cat. no.102 (Oo,9.101).
In style the drawing resembles Rembrandt's late work. The traditional attribution to him depends on a comparison with such undoubted drawings as the composition study for the 'Syndics' of 1662 in Berlin (Benesch 1178) and that for the 'Homer dictating' of 1663 in Stockholm (Benesch 1066). Although these works were also drawn with the reed pen, the comparisons do not inspire confidence, despite the resemblance of the small head sketched on the right of the Berlin drawing to the central figure here, and the analogous use of the wash.
The attribution therefore remains problematic. The name of Aert de Gelder has been advanced as the possible draughtsman, but the similarities to the few drawings that may definitely be ascribed to him are not close (less close than those to Rembrandt's own works).[1] It may have been executed by another artist in Rembrandt's orbit in the first half of the 1660s, when the Berlin and Stockholm drawings were made.[2]

[1] The attribution was advanced by Sumowski, 1979, etc. (see Lit. below). His drawing style has been examined more recently by Schatborn in Exh. Dordrecht-Cologne, 1998-9.
[2] The watermark, similar to an example datable 1659, also points approximately to this period.

Bürger, 1858, p.398 (Rembrandt); Vosmaer, 1877, p.585 (Rembrandt); Michel, 1893, p.581 (Rembrandt); Kleinmann, II, 45; Bell, c.1905, repr. pl. XXII; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.872; Wurzbach, 1910, p.417 (Rembrandt); London, 1915, no.83 (Rembrandt, c.1650-60); Valentiner, I, 1925, no.112, repr. (Rembrandt, c.1660); Hell, 1930, p.105 (Rembrandt; compares 'Hendrickje at Window', Ben.1099, Louvre); van Guldener, 1947, pp.43 and 45 (as copy after Rembrandt?; shows same moment in the story as another British Museum drawing [here as by Drost, cat. no.3; inv. 1855,1013.39]; states that Lugt believed Gg,2.249 to be a reworked copy after Rembrandt); Sumowski, 1979 etc., 5, 1981, no.1082xx, repr. (by Aert de Gelder; compares 'Death of Jacob', Sumowski 1075xx, in École des Beaux-Arts, 'Issac blessing Jacob', Sumowski 1081xx, Frick Coll., 'Sheet of Sketches', Sumowski 1053x, Rotterdam and British Museum 'Pilate washing his Hands', here cat. no.115; SL,5237.62); Exh. London, 1992, p.207, under no.100 (school).

old testament (all objects)

Associated names
Representation of Joseph (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Bequeathed by Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode (L.606, with date '1787' on verso) (biographical details | all objects)

Exhibition History
London, 1899, no.A72;
1938, no.83;
1956, p.24, no.12 (Rembrandt);
1992, BM, Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle (not in catalogue, as 'attributed to Aert de Gelder').

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