A reclining lion; with head at r, looking to front. c.1646-50 Pen and brown ink, and brown wash, heightened with white (oxidised), on two sheets conjoined of light brown prepared paper


© The Trustees of the British Museum

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Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: Oo,9.73

Bibliographic reference
Benesch 1973 1370
Hind 1915-31 44 (as Rembrandt)
Royalton-Kisch 2010 72 (School of Rembrandt & retouched by 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
Drawn by Rembrandt (retouched by) (biographical details | all objects)
Formerly attributed to Rembrandt (biographical details | all objects)
Circle/School of Rembrandt (biographical details | all objects)
1646-1650 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

A reclining lion; with head at right, looking to front. c.1646-5
Pen and brown ink with brown wash, heightened with white on paper prepared with brown wash; ruled framing lines in pen and brown ink (that along the lower edge in grey ink). Made up of two sheets of paper, divided vertically 39 mm from left edge; the top left corner made up with a triangular patch.
Verso: blank (inspected but now laid down); see Inscriptions; the verso of the triangular patch has a few lines in black chalk.
Watermark: foolscap (cf. Exh. Paris, 1997, p.242, no.23, another pupil's drawing of a lion).

Inscription Content: Inscribed verso, in graphite: '60 [in a circle]' and 'a [in a circle]'; an erased graphite inscription, lower left: '6[…]'.

Height: 122 millimetres (chain lines vertical, 24mm apart)
Width: 158 millimetres (l upper corner cut)

Generally good, apart from aspects mentioned with the measurements above; whites partly oxidised to black.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, anonymous School of Rembrandt (retouched), cat. no.72.
The style of the drawing, which does not appear to be a copy,[1] approximates to Rembrandt's own work of around 1650, although exact parallels are impossible to find among Rembrandt's securely datable drawings. The generally cautious draughtsmanship that constitutes the greater part of the work on the sheet betrays the hand of a pupil rather than Rembrandt himself, as has previously been recognised.[2] Yet the broader lines executed with the reed pen, particularly in the shadows to the left and in the outline of the rear part of the animal including the corrected, lower profile of the haunch, as well as the two diagonal lines to the left of the head and the accents to the right of the front paws, are more vigorously executed and with a superior comprehension of the forms depicted. These retouches have been interpreted as corrections to a pupil's work by Rembrandt himself, a theory that seems plausible if unprovable. Comparable passages of hatching appear in the 'Portrait of Jan Cornelisz. Sylvius' of 1646 in the Museum's collection (see cat. no.37; 1874,0808.2272), somewhat earlier than might otherwise be entertained for the drawing, while the retouched outlines resemble those in a study of a lion by Rembrandt himself in Rotterdam (Benesch 1211).
The animals were Berber lions from North Africa, and Rembrandt's interest in them may possibly have been connected with his design for a 'Daniel in the Lions' Den', a subject treated in a drawing in the Rijksmuseum of c.1649-50.[3]
The drawing was etched by Bernard Picart in his 'Recueil de lions' published in Amsterdam in 1729 (as no.D5).[4] An early, drawn copy is also in the British Museum's collection (cat. no.96; 1895,0915.1274). A school drawing which may represent the same animal was in the J.P. Heseltine collection (sold Sotheby's, 27-9 May, 1935, lot 185, repr.).

[1] There is no sign of any preparatory indications in graphite or chalk of the kind found in many copies made in Rembrandt's circle. The extension onto a second piece of paper on the left is also unlikely for a copyist.
[2] By Benesch; it also resembles cat. no.95 (Oo,09.74) in the Museum's collection.
[3] Schatborn, 1977, p.24, discusses the type of lion. For the date of the 'Daniel' drawing see Amsterdam, 1985, no.24.
[4] On Picart's 'Recueil' see most recently Schatborn, 1981, pp.25-8.

LITERATURE (+ = as Rembrandt):
Bürger, 1858, p.394 ( + ); Vosmaer, 1877, p.529 ( + , c.1641); Michel, 1893, p.582 ( + ? uncertain if this drawing is referred to; he states that it is inscribed below with Latin verses); Kleinmann, IV, no.27; Bell, c.1905, repr. pl.XXXVIII; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.941 (notes Picart print); Wurzbach, 1910, p.418 ( + ); London, 1915, no.44, repr. pl.VIII ( + , c.1635-40; notes British Museum copy; later than 'St Jerome' etching of 1634, Bartsch 100, Hind 119); Paris, 1933, p.32, under no.1193 (+ , compares drawing in Louvre of a similar beast [later rejected by Benesch under no.1370]; notes variant in Haarlem as a copy, inv. 0*62); Benesch, VI, 1957/73, no.1370, repr. fig.1604/1683 (c.1650-52; a pupil's drawing retouched by Rembrandt; compares lost drawing of a similar lion known in three versions, two discussed in Paris, 1933, no.1193, the third in the Percy Moore Turner collection [now Norwich; HdG.1034]); van Gelder, 1973, p.200, n.51 (on Picart); Amsterdam, 1981, p.149, n.8 (quotes Benesch); Schatborn, 1981, p.26 (on Picart); Sumowski, IX, 1985, p.4820, under no.2146 (compares lion drawn by Renesse in 1652 study of 'St Jerome' in Haarlem); Giltaij, 1995, p.102 (corrections not by a different hand); Schwartz, 2006, p.126, repr. fig.214.

mammal (all objects)

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Bequeathed by Richard Payne Knight (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection François Fagel (possibly) (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition notes
Possibly Greffier François Fagel sale, 1799 (see under cat. no.128, n.2; Oo,9.72, yet according to a note in the Register it was bought from Neyman in The Hague on 29 May, 1789, for f.10); Richard Payne Knight, by whom bequeathed, 1824.

Exhibition History
London, 1899, no.A18a (notes copy or ‘less successful first sketch’ in British Museum, here cat. no.96 [1895,0915.1274]);
1938, no.44 (c.1635-40);
1992, Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle, no.88, repr.
2015 June-Sept, Tunbridge Wells Museum & AG, 'A Walk on the Wild Side'

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