Agony in the Garden; Christ prostrate before the angel, the three Apostles asleep behind to l and a castle on a steep hill beyond Pen and brown ink, with brown and grey wash, with orange and red chalk


© The Trustees of the British Museum

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Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: 1918,0615.9

Bibliographic reference
Sumowski 1979 continuing 200x (as Bol)
Hind 1915-31 Add.177 (as School of Rembrandt)
Royalton-Kisch 2010 Bol.4

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 Ferdinand Bol (biographical details | all objects)
Formerly attributed to Rembrandt (School of) (biographical details | all objects)
1645 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

The Agony in the Garden; Christ prostrate before the angel, the three Apostles asleep behind to left and a castle on a steep hill beyond. c.1645
Pen and brown ink, touched with red chalk, with brown, grey and yellow wash.
Verso: laid down on mat with grey wash strip and pen and brown ink lines.
Watermark: crowned eagle with Basel staff, general resemblance to Heawood 1248 (1618) and 1249 (undated) and to Churchill 439 (Basel, 17th cent.).

Inscription Content: No inscriptions visible.

Height: 186 millimetres
Width: 174 millimetres (chain lines vertical, 25 mm apart; arched top, but stuck to a rectangular sheet 188mm in height)

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, 'Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school', 2010, Ferdinand Bol, cat. no.4:

Acquired in 1918 as the work of Rembrandt, most authorities have assigned the drawing to his pupil, Ferdinand Bol. It reflects Rembrandt's style of the mid-1630s but is inseparable from a drawing by Bol in Amsterdam of 'Hagar and the Angel' (Sumowski 89).[1] The treatment of the background foliage is especially close, and the similarities extend to the broad use of wash and some details of the figures. The technique of coloured washes is characteristic of Bol, and other drawings that have stylistic features in common include the 'St Jerome at Prayer' in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (Sumowski 190x).
The Amsterdam drawing is related to Bol's painting of the same subject in Gdansk, thought to have been painted in around 1650. The drawing, however, is usually dated earlier, and seen as an immediate reflection of Rembrandt's style of c.1635-40.[2] Yet a comparison with cat. no.3 (1836,0811.337), a study for Bol's etching of 1643, and the liquidity of Rembrandt's own style in the 1640s suggest that Bol's drawings may date from the same decade, and a date c.1645 is here tentatively proposed. If correct, the Amsterdam drawing might have been made as a preparatory sketch for the painting in Gdansk.
The subject of the 'Agony in the Garden' was not often depicted by Rembrandt and his followers. A sketch in Munich of 'Christ comforted by the Angel in Gethsemaneh' has recently also been assigned to Bol (Benesch 104, Sumowski 181x) and Rembrandt was himself to make an etching of the subject in the 1650s (Bartsch 75, Hind 293). Like the present work, this shows the sleeping apostles in the background, with soldiers approaching from Jerusalem to arrest Christ.

[1] Recently discussed by Schatborn in Exh. Berlin-Amsterdam, 1991-2[I], no.41, repr. in colour.
[2] Schatborn, loc. cit., suggests the second half of the 1630s. Sumowski, 1979, etc., prefers a date 'towards the end of the 1630s'.

Van Dyke, 1927, p.51 (Bol); London, 1931, p.139, no.Add.177 (Rembrandt, c.1635-40); Sumowski, 1979, etc., I, no.200x, repr. (Bol, early 1640s; compares 'Hagar and the Angel' in Amsterdam, Sumowski 89, and 'Dream of Jacob' in Berlin, Sumowski 202x; records that Valentiner, in unpublished proofs for his projected third volume, included the drawing as by Rembrandt).

agony in garden (all objects)

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

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Donated by Sir Otto Beit (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Edward John Poynter (L.874; his sale, Sotheby's, 2nd day, 25 April, 1918, lot 285 (as 'Jacob's Dream' by Rembrandt), bt C) (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition notes
E.J. Poynter (L.874); his sale, Sotheby's, 2nd day, 25 April, 1918, lot 285 (as 'Jacob's Dream'), bt Colnaghi; presented to the British Museum by Otto Beit, 1918.

Exhibition History
1933, London, British Museum, no.94 (Rembrandt);
1938, London, British Museum, no.39a (c.1635-1640?);
1992, BM, Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle (not in catalogue, as Bol).

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