Christ walking on the waves; Christ grasps the hand of St Peter, who is sinking into the sea, five disciples in the boat, one climbing over the side. c.1652-6 Pen and brown ink


© The Trustees of the British Museum

  • Full: FrontFull: Front

Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: 1910,0212.180

Bibliographic reference
Benesch 1973 1043
Royalton-Kisch 2010 48 (Rembrandt)
Hind 1915-31 73

Dutch Roy XVIIc

Back to search results

Back to catalogue

Object types
drawing (scope note | all objects)

paper (all objects)
drawn (scope note | all objects)
Production person
Drawn by Rembrandt (biographical details | all objects)
1652-1656 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

Christ walking on the waves; Christ grasps the hand of St Peter, who is sinking into the sea, five disciples in the boat, one climbing over the side. c.1652-1656
Reed pen and brown ink, touched with white; ruled framing lines in pen and brown ink
Verso: laid down on card
Watermark: lily in a crowned shield (in backing paper)

Inscription Content: Inscribed on verso of backing in graphite: '081/75'.

Height: 191 millimetres
Width: 291 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 25mm apart)

Good; some foxing, mostly down the right side.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, Rembrandt, cat. no.48.
The composition echoes, in reverse, the earlier drawing in the Museum's collection of the same subject, perhaps by Govert Flinck (cat.no.7; 1895,0915.1262, Benesch 70). This in turn might have been based on a lost work by Rembrandt.
The date of c.1652-6 proposed here depends mainly on the drawing's stylistic proximity to the 'Homer reciting' in the Six Album (Benesch 913), which is dated 1652. The form of the heads is particularly close, each drawn in a simplified circle that tends to break at the top left. The abbreviation of the facial features is also similar, the expressions being conveyed by a single line for the brow, with two points or circles for the eyes and short strokes for the mouths. The three forms of shading in the drawing, encountered in the ship's prow (slanted parallel lines), around the apostle leaving the ship (vertical lines) and immediately behind the hem of Christ's robe (crossed lines) are all encountered in the foreground or the trees of the 'Homer'. That Rembrandt could produce a work in which the light is dissolved to such an extent at this period is also demonstrated by his dated etching of 'Christ among the Doctors' of 1652 (Bartsch 65, Hind 257). Nevertheless, the drawing could be a few years later, as is argued by its analogies with etchings of c.1654-6, such as the 'Supper at Emmaus' of 1654 (Bartsch 87, Hind 282), the 'Christ presented to the People' of 1655 (Bartsch 76, Hind 271) and the 'Christ appearing to the Apostles' of 1656 (Bartsch 89, Hind 237). The chronology of Rembrandt's late pen and ink composition drawings is poorly documented and a more precise dating is impossible.
A sketch representing the somewhat related subject of 'Christ asleep on the Sea of Galilee', with some affinities in style and composition to the present drawing, is in Dresden (Benesch 954). Executed on a sheet of similar dimensions (197 x 300) it probably dates from about the same time.[1]

[1] Dated to 1654-5 in Exh. Dresden, 2004, no.113.

LITERATURE (always as Rembrandt):
Michel, 1893, p.585; Bredius, 1899, p.304; Lippmann, III, no.71; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.1120 (c.1655); Saxl, 1908, p.347 (c.1650; compares 'Sick Woman reclining' in Paris, Petit Palais, Benesch 283; St Peter resembles figure in painting of 'Denial of Peter', now in Amsterdam, Bredius 594); 'Rembrandt Bijbel', II, 1910, repr. opp. p.51; Wurzbach, 1910, p.417; London, 1915, no.73 (c.1650-55; compares drawing in BM [now as Flinck, cat. no.7, 1895,0915.1262); Neumann, 1919/18, p.882, under no.87 (as London, 1915); Hoykaas, 1925, pp.47-9, repr. pl.8 (not all apostles shown); Valentiner, I, 1925, no.426, repr. (c.1655; as London, 1915); Hell, 1930, p.24 (as London, 1915); Henkel, 1931, pl.LXI (c.1655); Benesch, 1935, p.63 (late 1650s); Popham, 1939, p.68; Amsterdam, 1943, p.36, under no.71 (as Benesch 1935); Schinnerer, 1944, no.54, repr. (c.1655); Benesch, 1947, p.28 and no.272, repr. (c.1659-60); Benesch, V, 1957/73, no.1043, repr. fig.1259/1327 (c.1659-60; with 'Taking of Christ', Stockholm, Benesch 1044, typically sculptural drawing of the period; notes triangular compositional construction around Christ, and rising and falling diagonals); Visser 't Hooft, 1957/56, repr. pl.XV (c.1655); Sumowski, 1958, repr. fig.68 (c.1659); London, 1961, p.39, under no.198 (compares Christ in 'Taking of Christ', Seilern Collection, Benesch 1022); White, 1962, pl.7; Rotermund, 1963, p.180, repr. fig.177 (notes extent of Christ's radiance); Sumowski, 1963, p.97, repr. fig.56, (c.1659); Slive, 1965, II, no.405, repr. (c.1658-60; as London, 1915); Exh. Vienna, 1970-71, p.155, under no.277 (expression foreshadows later etching of 'Christ's Agony', Bartsch 75, Hind 293); Rosand, 2002, p.246, repr. fig.235 (compression of emotion); Exh. Dresden, 2004, p.199, under no.113 (as Exh. London, 1992 [though not credited] compares Dresden drawing, Benesch 954, especially in depiction of water).

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
Bequeathed by George Salting (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Sir Thomas Lawrence (L.2445) (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection William Esdaile (L.2617) (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Edward Cheney (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition notes
Thomas Lawrence (L.2445, but not in the inventory of his collection); William Esdaile (L.2617; see no.19); his sale, Christie’s, 17 June, 1840, lot 75, bt Tiffin with lot 74 (now also BM, 1935,0608.8) for 3s; E. Cheney; his sale, Christie’s, 29ff. April, 1885, lot 861, bt Salting, £11; George Salting, by whom bequeathed, 1910.

Exhibition History
London, Grosvenor Gallery, 1878-79, no.292 (lent by E. Cheney);
London, Royal Academy, 1899, no.171;
London, British Museum, 1910, p.5;
London, British Museum, 1912, no.166; 1938, no.73 (c.1650-55);
London, British Museum, 1956, p.22, no.3, bis.;
London, British Museum, 1992, no.56, repr. in colour (c.1652-6; compares Benesch 70 for composition and 954 for style [see Curator's Comment]).
Vienna, Albertina, 2004, April-June, 'Rembrandt', no.113, repr.
London, BM, 2006, 'Rembrandt: a 400th anniversary display'(no cat.)

Noticed a mistake? Have some extra information about this object? Please contact us

To bookmark this page select "Bookmark this page" or "Add to favourites" from the web browser menu.