Study of a lion asleep, after Rembrandt; lying to r with its head resting on its r fore-paw. c.1646-50 Pen and brown ink, and brown wash, heightened with white (oxidised), on light brown prepared paper


© The Trustees of the British Museum

Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: Oo,9.74

Bibliographic reference
Hind 1915-31 45 (as Rembrandt)
Royalton-Kisch 2010 95 (anonymous after Rembrandt)
Benesch 1973 C60

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)
After Rembrandt (anonymous) (biographical details | all objects)
1646-1650 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

A lion asleep; after Rembrandt. Lying to right with its head resting on its right fore-paw. c.1646-50

Pen and brown ink with brown and greyish-brown wash, heightened with white,* on paper prepared with pale brown wash; ruled framing lines in pen and grey ink.
*Please see n.1 under Comment

Verso: see Inscriptions.

No watermark.

Inscription Content: Upper left, in red chalk: 'Rembrand nat leven/ l10gld'; and in pencil: 'd D [the second 'D' in a circle]' and: '60 [in a circle]'.

Height: 120 millimetres (chain lines vertical, 25mm apart)
Width: 174 millimetres

Generally good; some oxidation of the whites has occurred; a few scuffs and abrasions to the left; a drying fold runs vertically from the top left.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, anonymous after Rembrandt, cat. no.95.
The drawing was long considered to be an original work by Rembrandt, yet the grounds for doubting the attribution are strong.[3] In style, it resembles closely the 'Reclining Lion' in the Museum's collection (cat. no.72, Oo,9.73) and is here dated to around the same time. But while the latter seems to have been retouched by Rembrandt, the corrections visible in the present work are less persuasively comparable with his style.
The drawing is now generally regarded as a close copy of a lost original, of which there is another early copy, of inferior quality, in Amsterdam.[4] Among Rembrandt's authentic drawings of lions of the same period are two similar works now in Rotterdam and in the Louvre (Benesch 1211 and 1214 respectively) in which the draughtsmanship seems more confident. It is also worthy of note that although the drawing was etched in reverse by Bernard Picart in his 'Recueil de lions' of 1729 (no.D3), its outlines were not indented - like many of Picart's other models - in order to trace the design onto the copper plate. It could therefore be that he made his copy from the now lost original.[5]
A lion is depicted in a similar pose in another Rembrandt school drawing now in Stockholm.[6]

[1] The white may include some oil paint in the lower parts of the animal.
[2] Possibly acquired by Knight from the Greffier François Fagel sale, London, T. Philipe, 4th day, 23 May, 1799, lot 368 or 369, bt 'Knight'. See cat. no.128 (Oo,9.72, n.2). But according to the Register, the drawing was acquired from Neyman in The Hague, 29 May, 1789, for 12 guilders.
[3] First catalogued as a copy by Benesch in 1957, some doubts had previously been raised by Hind in London, 1915, as well as by Henkel in Amsterdam, 1942 (see Lit. below).
[4] See Amsterdam, 1985, no.109, repr.
[5] On Picart, see Schatborn, 1981, pp.25-8.
[6] HdG 1611, repr. Kruse, 1920, VI, 1.

LITERATURE (as Rembrandt unless otherwise stated):
Bürger, 1858, p.393 (c.1641; compares to etchings of this period [as cat. nos.29 and 30, Oo,9.71 and Oo,9.75]); Dutuit, IV, 1885, p.86; Michel, 1893, p.582; Kleinmann, IV, 29; Bell, c.1905, repr. pl.XXXVII; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.943; Wurzbach, 1910, p.418; Hind, 1915, no.45 (c.1635-40; accepted somewhat grudgingly; Amsterdam version a copy); Amsterdam, 1942, p.52, under no.107 (by Rembrandt?; c.1650; compares Rotterdam drawing, Benesch 1211); Benesch, VI, 1957, no.C60, repr. fig.1622/1701 (copy, as also the Amsterdam version; after an original of c.1650-52); van Gelder, 1973, p.200, n.51; Amsterdam, 1981, p.149 (many of Picart's etchings after copies or pupils' works); Schatborn, 1981, p.26; Amsterdam, 1985, under no.109, repr. fig.109a (follows Benesch; close copy of the lost original; compares Rotterdam drawing, Benesch 1211); Exh. London, 1992, p.190, under no.92, n.2 (on provenance).

mammal (all objects)

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Bequeathed by Richard Payne Knight (Please see n.2 under Comment.) (biographical details | all objects)

Exhibition History
London, 1899, no.A18b;
1938, no.45; 1992 (ex-cat.).

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