The Rommelpot players; three children watched by a figure leaning over a balcony and a group including a mother and child at an arched doorway to r. c.1652 Pen and brown ink, with grey-brown wash


© The Trustees of the British Museum

  • RectoRecto

Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: 1900,0824.145

Bibliographic reference
Hind 1915-31 32 (as Rembrandt)
Benesch 1973 733
Royalton-Kisch 2010 Gelder.2

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 Arent de Gelder (biographical details | all objects)
Formerly attributed to Rembrandt (biographical details | all objects)
1665 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

The rommelpot players; three children watched by a figure leaning over a balcony and a group including a mother and child at an arched doorway to right. c.1665
Pen and brown ink with brown wash, rubbed with the finger.
Verso: laid down
No visible or recorded watermark.

Inscription Content: Inscribed on backing, in graphite: ‘145’, and ‘32 [in a circle]’.

Height: 193 millimetres
Width: 225 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 24mm apart)

Somewhat faded and with general foxing near the edges.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, attributed to Aert de Gelder, cat. no.2.
The somewhat stilted line of the present sheet differs from the pen sketches that may be securely attributed to Rembrandt.[1] The style seems to depend on his drawings of the 1650s, sharing the same reticence of line. But the style is more harsh and the drawing seems likely to be the work of a pupil. A date after c.1652 is suggested by Rembrandt's etching of a related subject, the 'Star of the Kings: a Night Piece' (Bartsch 113, Hind 254), which has generally been assigned to the early 1650s,[2] and recently the name of Aert de Gelder has been proposed as the draughtsman.[3] While a comparison with his only securely attributable drawing, the 'Group of Orientals' now in the Fogg Art Museum (Abrams collection; Sumowski 1052), is not entirely persuasive, the style is close to the 'Jacob shown Joseph's blood-stained Cloak' in Chicago (Benesch A33; Sumowski 1068). This is usually given to De Gelder, albeit tentatively, and the attribution is therefore accepted for the British Museum's drawing with reservations.
It seems probable that the drawing, like the etching, represents an Epiphany or Shrovetide festivity.[4] The 'rommelpot' held by the child in the centre, a makeshift instrument made with a bladder stretched over a pot containing water, and agitated by a short stick, is commonly represented in seventeenth-century Dutch art,[5] but the longer pole sawed with an improvised 'bow' by the boy on the right is unusual. It is seen again in another drawing in Weimar of the same subject (Benesch 734) though not in a third version formerly in the Fogg Art Museum (Benesch 735).[6] The Weimar sketch reveals its construction more clearly: at the top of the pole is a gourd from which strings descend to the base of the instrument, and it is these that resonate to the action of the bow.

[1] For example, the signed 'Star of the Kings', here cat. no.44, or the 'St Jerome' at Hamburg (Benesch 886), which is a study for Rembrandt's etching of c.1652, Bartsch 104, Hind 267.
[2] White and Boon, 1969, I, no.B113 date the print c.1651; Hind, 1912/24, no.254, dated it c.1652; Münz, 1952, no.278, suggested 1654.
[3] Schatborn, 1994, p.24.
[4] By Hind in London, 1915, no.32, and Lugt, 1915[I], p.158.
[5] E.g. in paintings by Jan Steen and Cornelis Dusart. One appears on folio 41 recto of the sketchbook by Anthonie van Borssom (here cat. no.19; 1854,0628.111).
[6] The drawing was stolen in 1937. To judge only from photographs, neither the Fogg nor the Weimar versions can be attributed to Rembrandt with any degree of confidence. Another school version is in Warsaw, described as a copy of a lost drawing by Benesch, no.C39A (1973 ed. only), repr. fig.1067.

LITERATURE (always as Rembrandt unless otherwise stated):
Lippmann, IV, no.79; Kleinmann, IV, no,26; London, 1915, no.32 (c.1635-45; compares figures in etchings of 'Pancake Woman', Bartsch 124, Hind 141 of 1635 and the 'Hog', Bartsch 157, Hind 204 of 1643; perhaps Shrove Tuesday street music); Lugt, 1915[I], p.158, repr. p.157; Valentiner, 1925-6, p.275, repr. p.273 (compares versions in Weimar and Fogg, Benesch 734-5); Weisbach, 1926, p.177, repr. fig.39 (compares 'Star of Kings', here Rembrandt cat. no.38, 1910,0212.189); Hind, 1932, p.120, n.1 (compares Fogg version, Benesch 735, and notes chalk drawing now in a private collection, The Hague, Benesch 745; also versions of the subject by de Gelder and Hals); Valentiner, II, 1934, no.785, repr. (c.1636); Benesch, 1935, p.35 (c.1640-41); Cambridge, Mass., 1940, pp.274-5, under no.521 (compares Fogg version, Benesch 735, as also works by van Ostade); Benesch, IV, 1955/73, no.733, repr. fig.877/928 (c.1641-2; compares with Fogg and Weimar versions, and the 'Star of the Kings', here Rembrandt cat. no.38, 1910,0212.189, to the 1641 etching 'Woman at a Door-Hatch talking to a Man and Children', Bartsch 128, Hind 192; also to drawings of 'Joseph telling his Dreams', Benesch 527, now Woodner coll., and 'Adoration of Magi', Benesch 522, Turin); Exh. Amsterdam-Rotterdam, 1956, p.46, under no.83 (c.1640; related motif of etching of c.1652, the 'Star of the Kings', Bartsch 113, Hind 254); Slive, 1965, II, no.528 repr. (c.1640; compares in particular the Fogg sheet, Benesch 735); Vogel-Köhn, 1981, p.63 and no.74, repr. (c.1640-43); Schatborn, 1994, p.24 (by Aert de Gelder).

musician (scope note | all objects)

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Bequeathed by Henry Vaughan (biographical details | all objects)

Exhibition History
London, 1901, no.A112;
1938, no.32 (c.1635-45);
1992, no.94, repr. (school of Rembrandt);
2003/4 Nov-Mar, Dijon, Musée des Beaux-Arts, 'Rembrandt et son école...'

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