Angels leading Lot and his family out of Sodom. c.1650-1660 Pen and brown ink, with grey-brown wash Verso: Small sketch of a figure in classical dress (?) Pen and brown ink


© The Trustees of the British Museum

  • VersoVerso

Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: Oo,10.118

Bibliographic reference
Royalton-Kisch 2010 106 (anonymous Rembrandt School)
Hind 1915-31 89 (as Rembrandt)
Benesch 1973 A36

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

The Angel leading Lot and his family out of Sodom. c.1650
Pen and brown ink with wash, heightened with white (and with later grey wash); ruled framing lines in the same brown ink; verso in pen and brown ink.
Verso: Sketch of a turban
No watermark.

Inscription Content: Verso, in graphite, upper left: '4 [in a circle] '.

Height: 176 millimetres
Width: 243 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 25/26mm apart)

Generally good; a brown stain near left edge; a small pin-hole in the skirt of the daughter, right; the grey wash is presumably a later addition.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, anonymous Rembrandt School, cat. no.106.
The drawing is one of several versions of the subject that were all until recently attributed to Rembrandt, the most notable being those in Vienna, Washington and in the Bibliothèque Nationale (Benesch 129, 963 and C89).[2] In the present case, the composition is derived from Rubens, ultimately from his painting of the same subject now in the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, but known to the draughtsman through an anonymous engraving.[3]
The style resembles Rembrandt's work of c.1640-50, as seen in cat. nos.34-38 and 45 (respectively Gg,2.250; 1910,0212.188; Oo,9.97; 1874,0808.2272; 1910,0212.189 and 1910,0212.179). The somewhat liquid and free treatment of the outlines, combined with passages of more delicate hatching in the figures, is typical of many of these works. Yet it has been rightly argued that the attribution to Rembrandt seems unconvincing.[4] At the same time, comparisons with drawings produced by identified pupils are also unpersuasive.[5] Perhaps the closest stylistic comparison is with another work of uncertain authorship, the 'Samson and Delilah' in Cologne (Benesch A32).[6]
The woman carrying a bundle on her head resembles in pose a number of figures in several drawings by Rembrandt's pupils, including the Virgin in the 'Marriage of Virgin' in Washington (Benesch C81) and to a lesser extent and in reverse the 'Young Woman standing' in Munich (Benesch 689; Sumowski 239x as by Ferdinand Bol).[7] It has been pointed out that the figure as seen in the British Museum's sheet derives from a drawing in Oxford of an 'English Woman' by Holbein. Rembrandt himself copied the Holbein, probably in the early 1640s, in a drawing now in Oslo.[8] The artist of the present drawing did not, however, base the figure on Rembrandt's copy, which omitted the lower part of the dress, and the feet, features that are repeated here.[9]
The slight sketch of a turban on the verso, not previously published, may have been intended for the figure of Lot on the recto. Its quality does not bolster the traditional attribution to Rembrandt.

[1] Possibly the drawing of this subject sold at the Huquier sale, Amsterdam (Yver), 14 Sept., 1761, lot 651 ('Het vertrek van Loth met zyn huysgezin uit Sodom; geestig geteekend met de pen en gewassen, door Rembrandt').
[2] The Vienna and Washington drawings are generally accepted in the literature; the attribution of the former, which if by Rembrandt would have to be from the first years of the 1630s, is unconvincing, not least because of the feeble verso, a copy of a 'Sacrifice of Isaac', which seems to be by the same hand as the recto (Benesch assigned the verso to a pupil of Lastman). The Washington drawing, rightly placed c.1655 by Benesch, differs markedly from Rembrandt's certain drawings of this period and its attribution seems suspect (in style it resembles the Bibliothèque Nationale drawing, Benesch C89). Another drawing of the subject is in the Louvre (Paris, 1933, no.1207, repr. pl.LXIII, in style reminiscent of Renesse).
[3] Regteren Altena, 1967, found the precise source (see Lit. below). The print, published by C.J. Visscher and based on an engraving by Lucas Vorsterman, is listed by Schneevoogt, 1873, p.2, no.10. The painting is discussed fully by d'Hulst and Vandenven, 1989 (see Lit. below). For an impression of Vorsterman's print in the British Museum, see R,3.7.
[4] Benesch, 1955 (see Lit. below).
[5] The idea that the drawing might be by Drost, as suggested by the compiler in the 1992 exhibition, was based largely on the drawing's date (it was probably made when Drost was among the most talented pupils in the workshop) and a superficial resemblance to other works attributed to him, including those in the British Museum.
[6] Benesch, 1955 (see Lit. below).
[7] These similarities were pointed out by Wegner in Munich, 1973, and Regteren Altena as reported in Benesch, 1973 ed. (see Lit. below).
[8] The Oslo drawing and its relationship to the present work were first discovered by Regteren Altena, 1967 (see Lit. below).
[9] A weak copy of the woman carrying a basket on her head was sold at Christie's, London, 19 April, 1988, part of lot 267 (a photograph is in the Museum's files).

LITERATURE (as Rembrandt unless otherwise stated):
Bürger, 1858, p.399 (represents 'Expulsion of Hagar', and a study for the etching of 1637, Bartsch 30, Hind 149); Kleinmann, III, no.60; Bell, c.1905, repr. pl.XVI; Valentiner, 1905, p.101 (influence of Rubens' painting of same subject in Louvre; woman to right seen there and in 15th cent. Italian art); Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.864; Wurzbach, 1910, p.417 (uncertain as Rembrandt); 'Drawings in the British Museum', 1912, III, 1 [according to London, 1915, but not found]; London, 1915, no.89 (c.1650-60; compares drawings of the same subject in Vienna and Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, Benesch 129 and C89); Stockholm, 1920, p.4 (compares Stockholm 'Jacob blessing his Sons', HdG 1544, not in Benesch ); Valentiner, I, 1925, no.40, repr. (c.1660; woman to right perhaps influenced by Raphael; subject developed in drawings now in Washington of c.1652, Benesch 963, and Paris, B.N., Benesch C89 of c.1655); Van Dyke, 1927, pp.130-31, repr. pl.XXXVIII, fig.150 (by a pupil of Bol? woman to right reinforced by a later hand; assigned to 'Group F', which also includes 'Christ with Mary and Martha', Haarlem, Benesch 79, the 'Healing of Tobit', Cleveland, Benesch 547, and 'Abraham and Isaac' in Stockholm, Sumowski 1278xx as by Horst); Hell, 1930, p.38 (fig. on right resembles Mary in etched 'Descent from Cross by Torchlight', Bartsch 83, Hind 280); Rijckevorsel, 1932, pp.217-9, repr. fig.283 (Rubens' influence, as Valentiner, but also from Rubens' 'Adoration of the Shepherds' [version unspecified]); Paris, 1933, p.38, under no.1207 (c.1650; cf. Louvre sheet of same subject by a pupil, pl.LXIII, and Bibliothèque Nationale sheet, Benesch C89); Paris, 1936, p.64, under no.246 (c.1652-55; right-hand figure influenced by Rubens); 'Rembrandt Bible', 1947, no.5, repr.; Benesch, IV, 1955/73, no.A36, repr. fig.1041/1099 (probably not Rembrandt; in his style of c.1648-50: right-hand figure similar to Hagar in 'Dismissal of Hagar', Berlin, Benesch 649, and to Saul in 'Madness of Saul' in Courtauld, Princes Gate Collection, Benesch 650; outlined background figure to right compared with subsidiary figures in 'Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh', ex-Fitzherbert collection, Benesch 875; but unconvincing beside e.g. 'Healing of Tobit' in Berlin, Benesch 646; compares other doubtful works, 'Samson and Delilah' in Cologne, Benesch A32, and 'Abraham comforting Isaac', Rotterdam, Benesch A57; 1973 ed. quotes Regteren Altena, 1967, who also informed the editor verbally that he saw similarity of right hand figure to that in 'Marriage of Virgin' in Washington, Benesch C81); Rosenberg, 1959, p.116 (follows London, 1915 and Paris, 1933); Sumowski, 1961, p.24 (not Rembrandt; same hand as 'Marriage of the Virgin' in Washington, Benesch C81; heads resemble Eeckhout's Evangelist series of 1670 [Sumowski, 'Gemälde', nos 497-9]); Slive, 1965, II, no.527 (c.1652-3); Regteren Altena, 1967, pp.375-8 (see nn.3 and 8 above); Munich, 1973, p.158, under no.1103 (compares fig. to right with 'Young Woman standing', Munich, Benesch 689 [Sumowski 239x as Bol] and with similar figure in Benesch 217A, now Courtauld, Princes Gate collection); Broos, 1977, p.122; Exh. Washington-Denver-Fort Worth, 1977, p.45, under no.39 (notes Rubens' influence, quoting Regteren Altena, 1967); Exh. New York, 1988, p.121, under no.32, repr. p.122, fig.32-2 ([text by Lisa Kurzner] by Rembrandt; as Regteren Altena, 1967); d'Hulst and Vandenven, 1989, p.43 (as Regteren Altena, 1967).

old testament (all objects)

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

Associated places
Topographic representation of Sodom (scope note | all objects)
(Asia,Middle East,Levant,Jordan,Sodom)

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Bequeathed by Richard Payne Knight (Please see n.1 under Comment.) (biographical details | all objects)

Exhibition History
London, 1899, no.A64;
1938, no.89 (c.1650-60);
1956, p.25, no.17;
1992, BM, Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle, not in catalogue ('attributed to Willem Drost').

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