A tethered lion asleep; lying to l, the r fore-paw extended, its head resting on the ground. c.1648-50 Pen and brown ink, with brown wash, touched with red chalk and oil, on brown prepared paper


© The Trustees of the British Museum

Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: Oo,9.72

Bibliographic reference
Royalton-Kisch 2010 128 (anonymous Rembrandt School)
Hind 1915-31 47 (as Rembrandt)
Benesch 1973 857

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)
1648-1650 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

A tethered lion, asleep; lying to left, the right fore-paw extended, its head resting on the ground. c.1648-50

Pen and brown ink with brown wash, touched with red chalk and oil paint* on paper prepared with brown wash; ruled framing lines in pen and brown ink.
*Please see n.1 under Comment.

Verso: laid down on an eighteenth-century mat.

No visible or recorded watermark.

Inscription Content: Inscribed on verso of mat, in graphite: '58 [in a circle]'.

Height: 131 millimetres
Width: 195 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 24mm apart)

Disfigured by old restorations which have now discoloured (see under medium above).

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, anonymous Rembrandt School, cat. no.128.
Another version of the drawing, with minor differences to the pose of the animal's hind quarters and tail, and without the indication of ropes or chains above, is in the Louvre (Benesch 781; E. de Rothschild bequest). Neither has claims to be Rembrandt's own work, and the surmise that he retouched the darker outlines in the British Museum's example is not convincing: some of the least secure parts of the drawing, including the front paw, are executed in the darker ink.[3]
As well as the sheet in the Louvre, the present drawing may be grouped with cat. no.127 (Oo,9.70)[4] and two more, at Chantilly (Benesch 783) and formerly in Rotterdam (Benesch 782), which are similar in style.[5] They could be the work of a single pupil of Rembrandt who was copying the master or emulating his technique as exhibited by Rembrandt's drawing of a lion in the Louvre (Benesch 1214). The latter was probably executed in c.1648-50[6] and the British Museum's drawing may date from the same period.
Two copies, one of only the head and extended paw, are in an album of drawings by Cornelis Saftleven, dated 1666, recently acquired by the Rijksmuseum.

[1] The red chalk and oil paint appear to be from an early attempt to restore the sheet but have now discoloured.
[2] The drawing is laid down on a green mat of the type seen on cat. no.127 (Oo,9.70), also from Oudaan's and Knight's collections (lot L.75); while they may subsequently have been in the Greffier François Fagel sale (London, T. Philipe, 4th day, 23 May, 1799) where 'Knight' is recorded as having bought two drawings of single lions in pen and bistre, lots 368 (£1-5-0) and 369 (£3-0-0); but the Fagel drawings are more probably two other Payne Knight drawings, cat. nos.72 and 95 (Oo,9.73 and Oo,9.74). Yet these are said to have been acquired from Neyman in 1789.
[3] Benesch was the first to advance the hypothesis that Rembrandt had retouched the drawing. The Louvre version was omitted (and therefore rejected by E. Starcky) from Exh. Louvre, Cabinet des dessins, 1988-9.
[4] Cat. no.127 (Oo,9.70) is also similar, if somewhat broader, and on the same blotched paper. Neither was accepted by Benesch.
[5] They all also betray signs of restoration to the paper.
[6] As suggested by Starcky, op. cit., no.43. Benesch suggested a slightly later date, c.1651-2.

LITERATURE (as Rembrandt unless otherwise stated):
Bürger, 1858, p.394 (c.1641; see also under cat. no.38); Vosmaer, 1877, p.529 (c.1640); Dutuit, IV, 1885, p.86; Michel, 1893, p.582; Lippmann, II, no.62; Kleinmann, III, no.57; Seidlitz, 1902, p.136 (not Rembrandt); Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.945; Wurzbach, 1910, p.418; London, 1915, no.47 (c.1635-40); Benesch, IV, 1955/73, no.857, repr. fig.1006/1060 (c.1648-50; pupil's drawing corrected by Rembrandt; compares similar drawing in Louvre, Benesch 781, considered autograph); Slive, 1965, I, no.291, repr. (as Benesch); Amsterdam, 1981, p.149, n.8 (as Benesch).

mammal (all objects)

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Bequeathed by Richard Payne Knight (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition notes
Probably Michiel Oudaan, sale, Rotterdam, 3 November, 1766, lot 76;* bequeathed by Richard Payne Knight, 1824. *Please see n.2 under Comment.

Exhibition History
London, 1899, no.A20;
1938, no.47 (always as Rembrandt);
1992, 'Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle', no.92, repr. (school of Rembrandt).

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