Christ walking on the waves; Christ about to grasp the hand of St Peter, who is sinking into the sea, with two disciples in the boat to r. c.1632 Pen and brown ink


© The Trustees of the British Museum

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Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: 1895,0915.1262

Bibliographic reference
Benesch 1973 70
Hind 1915-31 72 (as Rembrandt)
JCR 790
Royalton-Kisch 2010 Flinck.7

Dutch Roy XVIIc

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Object types
drawing (scope note | all objects)

paper (all objects)
drawn (scope note | all objects)
Production person
Attributed to Govert Flinck (biographical details | all objects)
Formerly attributed to Rembrandt (biographical details | all objects)
1638 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

Christ walking on the waves; Christ about to grasp the hand of St Peter, who is sinking into the sea, with two disciples in the boat to right. c.1638
Pen and brown ink, with ruled framing lines in the same medium
Verso: see Inscriptions.
Watermark: Fool’s cap with five-pointed collar, similar to Heawood, 1929 (Holland 1629), and Laurentius p.220, no.511 (1637).

Inscription Content: Recto, lower left, the initials ‘JCR’ (L.1433); lower right, in graphite: ‘8’; verso, in pen and brown ink, top left: ‘J. C. Robinson 145/63’; in graphite, lower left: ‘Rembrant’ and upper centre: ‘970.’.

Height: 165 millimetres
Width: 265 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 24mm apart)

Good; some stains and small losses at extreme edges.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, attributed to Govert Flinck, cat. no.7:
The subject is from Matthew, XIV, 29-31: St Peter attempts to walk with Christ on the Sea of Galilee. Only two other apostles are depicted, the one leaving the boat possibly being St Peter at an earlier moment.[1]
The sheet is here attributed to Flinck with reservations. It is generally perceived as belonging to a group of drawings of New Testament subjects, including the 'Christ with Mary and Martha' in Haarlem (Benesch 79) and two representations of the 'Temptation of Christ' (Benesch 65 and 66, in Frankfurt and Washington).[2] Recently, the Washington and Haarlem drawings have been assigned to Govert Flinck,[3] undermining the coherence of the group as a whole.
The present drawing can be separated from the more slackly drawn sheet in Washington and is analogous in style to Rembrandt's etchings of the period c.1632.[4] Yet the connection with the Haarlem drawing is incontrovertible, and although the execution of some contemporary pen and ink drawings, such as the 'Three Studies of a bearded Man on Crutches and a Woman' (Rembrandt cat. no.7; Gg,2.252), in which the hands and drapery exhibit close similarities to the present sheet, argues in favour of adhering to the traditional attribution to Rembrandt, the differences overall remain tangible.
Rembrandt's pen and ink style of the early Amsterdam period, from 1631-4, is not clearly documented, exacerbating the attributional problem. Yet his studies of this period are usually more fluent, the tangle of wiry lines that constitute the figure of Christ and the water around him being difficult to parallel in his work.[5] On the other hand, the present evidence of Flinck's early drawing style is insufficient to support an attribution to him without hesitation,[6] although his earlier paintings suggest that he was capable of inventing such an original and lively conception of the biblical scene. If by him the drawing would probably date from the late 1630s (around 1638 has previously been suggested - see n.2.
Compare Rembrandt's later treatment of the subject, here 1910,0212.180. His painting of the related scene, 'Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee' (Bredius 547, Corpus A68) is dated 1633.

[1] See Campbell, 1971, p.263.
[2] The group was first constructed by Valentiner (see Lit. below), who dated it c.1638. Benesch, 1954/73, when describing the present sheet, misquoted Valentiner in placing the 'Annunciation' in Besançon, his no.99, in the group.
[3] The first by Sumowski, IV, 1981, no.950ax, the second by Schatborn (oral communication).
[4] E.g. the 'Old Beggar Woman with a Gourd' (Bartsch 168, Hind 80), the smaller sketches in the 'Sheet of Studies, with the Head of the Artist' (Bartsch 363, Hind 90), the 'St Jerome praying' (Bartsch 101, Hind 94) the 'Raising of Lazarus' (Bartsch 73, Hind 96), and the 'Good Samaritan' (Bartsch 90, Hind 101).
[5] Cf. the drawings for the Berlin 'St John the Baptist preaching' (Bredius 555) in Berlin (Benesch 140-41), New York (Benesch 336) and at Chatsworth (Benesch 142), the study of 'Adam and Eve' in Leiden (Ben.164) for the etching of 1638 (Bartsch 28, Hind 159), or the 'Lamentation' in the British Museum (here Rembrandt cat. no.9, Oo,9.103).
[6] The most recent compendium of Flinck's work as a draughtsman is in Sumowski, (loc. cit., n.3 above).

LITERATURE (always as Rembrandt unless otherwise stated):
Robinson, 1869/76, no.766/790; Lippmann, IV, no.82; Kleinmann, III, no.41; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.882; Baldwin Brown, 1907, pp.129-30; Becker, 1909, pp.123-4 (right half later); Wurzbach, 1910, p.417; London, 1915, no.72 (c.1650); Neumann, 1918[I], no.87, repr. (Rembrandt revised the boat – originally more in profile to right; the right-hand figure corrected to compensate); Stockholm, 1920, pp.27 and 62 (resembles 'Incredulity of St Thomas', Stockholm, Benesch C29A, and 'Stone-Cutting Operation', also Stockholm, Benesch 1154); Bredt, 1921/28, II, repr. p.31/35; Valentiner, I, 1925, no.425 (c.1638; rejects Neumann's assertion that it was corrected later); Kauffmann, 1926, p.175, n.3 (c.1635-6); Van Dyke, 1927, pp.51-2 (by Bol; compares drawing in Victoria and Albert Museum, 'God appearing to Abraham', HdG.967, repr. Valentiner, I, 1925, p.XVIII); Berlin, 1930, under no.1144 (c.1635, correcting London, 1915; compares Berlin 'Ruth and Boaz', Benesch 162); Hell, 1930, p.24 (mid-1630s; compares cat. no.56); Paris 1933, p.18, under no.1147 (close to Louvre 'Diana surprised', Benesch A50); Benesch, 1935, p.15 (1632-3); Benesch, 1935[I], p.262; Schinnerer, 1944, no.53, repr. (c.1638); Benesch, 1947, under no.28; Rotermund, 1952, p.108 (Peter protected within Christ's radiance); Benesch, 1954/73, I, no.70, repr. fig.74/84 (c.1632-3; contemporary with painting of 'Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee' of 1633 [Bredius 547, Corpus A68]; agrees with Valentiner that the drawing executed at one time and not corrected later); Sumowski, 1958, repr. fig.67 (c.1632); Drost, 1960[I], p.221, n.11 (influence of Bellini drawing, Berlin, 'St Mark and Ananias'); White, 1962, pl.2 (c. 1633); Slive, 1965, II, no.531, repr. (c.1633); Haak, 1969/68, p.87, repr. fig.125 (c.1632-3); Campbell, 1971, p.263 (interprets as a sequential narrative - see n.1 above); Haak, 1976/74, no.8, repr.; Hoekstra, IV (deel 2), 1981, repr. p.31; Walsh, 1985, p.50, repr. fig.3 (as Benesch, 1954/73); Schatborn, 1994, p.21 (attribution uncertain); Giltaij, 1995, p.96, repr. fig.2; Haarlem, 1997, p.293, under no.322; Rosand, 2002, p.246, repr. fig.234; Berlin, 2006, p.12, n.20 (Flinck? [following suggestion of Schatborn]).

Literature after Royalton-Kisch 2010: Peter Schatborn, 'The early, Rembrandtesque Drawings of Govert Flinck', in Master Drawings 48 (2010), p.17, fig.16 (as Govert Flinck); Holm Bevers, review of Martin Royalton-Kisch catalogue, in The Burlington Magazine (2013), p.103 (as Govert Flinck).

miracles of christ (all objects)

Associated names
Representation of Jesus Christ (biographical details | all objects)
Representation of St Peter (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Purchased from Col John Wingfield Malcolm (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Sir John Charles Robinson (L.1433) (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection John Malcolm of Poltalloch (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Anon Lugt 2468 (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition notes
Anon. collection TW (Thomas Williams of Somers Town?; L.2468); J. C. Robinson (L.1433; see also verso inscription); John Malcolm of Poltalloch (L.1489); purchased with his collection, 1895.

Exhibition History
London, Grosvenor Gallery, 1878-9, no.299;
British Museum, 1895, no.382;
1899, no.A65; 1938, no.72 (c.1650);
1956, p.22, no.4 (right column);
1992, no.7, repr. in colour (resembles Flinck but retained as Rembrandt with reservations);
1995 Jul-Sept, Whitechapel, 'Drawing the Line', no. 172;
1996-7, Sept-Jan, BM, Malcolm Collection, no.84, repr. in colour.

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