Three studies of old men, standing and walking; one at l in a high hat and long cloak, with arms extended, seen almost from behind, one at centre, HL, also in a tall hat, the third at r walking away with a stick. c.1645-8 Pen and brown ink, with reed-pen (?)


© The Trustees of the British Museum

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Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: Oo,9.76

Bibliographic reference
Hind 1915-31 23
Benesch 1973 679
Royalton-Kisch 2010 77 (attributed to 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
Attributed to Rembrandt (biographical details | all objects)
1646-1648 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

Three studies of old men, standing and walking; one at left in a high hat and long cloak, with arms extended, seen almost from behind, one at centre, half-length, also in a tall hat, the third at right walking away with a stick. c.1645-1648

Pen and brown ink; framing lines in pen with a paler brown ink.

Verso: blank (see Inscriptions).

No watermark.

Inscription Content: Verso: in graphite: '41 [in a circle]'.

Height: 127 millimetres
Width: 153 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 24mm apart)

Generally good, but with old foxing stains, especially in upper half and near right and lower edges.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, attributed to Rembrandt, cat. no.77.
Studies of everyday characters of this type occur at various stages in Rembrandt's career (see also cat. nos.7 and 33; Gg,2.252 and Gg,2.251). In style, the breadth of the pen lines (perhaps using a reed pen) suggest a date in the mid-to-later 1640s for the present drawing. Similar qualities appear in the 'Portrait of Sylvius' of 1646 (cat. no.37; 1874,0808.2272) and in such etchings as the 'Jews in the Synagogue' of 1648 (Bartsch 126, Hind 234). To the same period belong a number of similar studies in black chalk (see cat. nos.40-44; 1884,1108.6, 1884,1108.3, 4 and 5, and 1986,1213.2) which can be dated on the basis of a drawing in the Amsterdam Historisch Museum, which has a sketch of 'Jan Six' for the etched portrait of 1647 on the verso (Benesch 749). For these reasons a date of c.1646-8 is proposed here. The use of the finger to smudge the ink in the central figure is also characteristic of Rembrandt's later style. However, the blocked-out, sculptural quality of the figures and the delineation of details such as the face of the central figure are exceedingly close to drawings attributed to Rembrandt's pupil, Carel Fabritius, and some caution in accepting the attribution to Rembrandt is therefore necessary.[1]

[1] See Schatborn, 2006[I].

LITERATURE (always as Rembrandt):
Bürger, 1858, p.401 (early); Vosmaer, 1877, p.602; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.916; London, 1915, no.23, repr. pl.IV (c.1630-35); Benesch, 1935, p.35 (c.1640-42); Benesch, IV, 1955/73, no.679, repr. fig.818/865 (c.1642-3; compares 'Mourners beneath the Cross', Benesch 520, private collection, which he connects with the etched 'Descent from the Cross' of 1642, Bartsch 82, Hind 199; also cat. no.35; 1910,0212.188, and Benesch 678 mentioned in that entry); Bernhard, 1976, II, repr. p.320; Amsterdam, 1985, pp.59-61, repr. fig.26b and p.107, n.7 (c.1642-3; compares 'Three Orientals' in Rijksmuseum, Benesch 682, and 'Star of the Kings', cat. no.38; 1910,0212.189); Berlin, 2006, p.180, under no.53, n.2 (an exercise rather than a genre scene; compares later drawing in Berlin, Benesch 1141).

Acquisition date

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

Exhibition History
London, 1899, no.A9 (c.1631-6);
1938, no.23 (c.1630-35);
1956, p. 15, no.22;
1992, Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle, no.45, repr. (c.1646-8).

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