Study of a seated woman; WL, in an armchair, leaning her face on her l hand, wearing a fur-bordered mantle, her feet stretched out to l Pen and brown ink


© The Trustees of the British Museum

Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: 1910,0212.183

Bibliographic reference
Hind 1915-31 29 (as Rembrandt)
Benesch 1973 A12
Royalton-Kisch 2010 Flinck.3

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 Govert Flinck (biographical details | all objects)
Formerly attributed to Rembrandt (biographical details | all objects)
1645 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

A woman seated, full-length; in an armchair, leaning her face on her left hand, wearing a fur-bordered mantle, her feet stretched out to left. c.1645
Pen and brown ink.
Verso: see Inscriptions.
No watermark.

Inscription Content: Verso, lower centre, in graphite: ‘5723/no/./1’.

Height: 216 millimetres (chain lines not visible)
Width: 153 millimetres

Good; lightly foxed; pin-holes at corners; perhaps trimmed on the right.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, 'Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school', 2010, Govert Flinck, cat. no.3:
The drawing was until the 1950s generally accepted as a work by Rembrandt of the later 1630s, and the model identified as his wife Saskia.[1] However, the connections with Rembrandt's own drawings of the 1630s are 'nowhere so strong that the drawing can be given without hesitation to the master himself' (Benesch 1954). Nor does the identification of Saskia seem convincing (cf. cat. no.15; 1895,0915.1264).
Among Rembrandt's own drawings, the closest comparisons are with his work of the mid-1640s, including 1910,0212.189 (Ben736), Oo,9.76 (Ben679), and 1874,0808.2272 (Ben763). The painterly breadth, varied touch and the vigorous hatching all have parallels here. Yet the energy of draughtsmanship in the present work seems less securely directed, and exhibits closer analogies with Govert Flinck's study of a 'Musketeer' in Copenhagen (Benesch A33; Sumowski 963x). The latter, which bears an old attribution to Flinck (see under cat. no.9; 1859,0806.73), reveals similarities in the treatment of the outlines, defined with bold but not always entirely logical differences in pressure on the pen, and in the rendering of the faces and hair. The mixed character of the hatching, at times tentative but in general confidently applied, is also comparable. The Copenhagen sheet has usually been dated to the first half of the 1640s, but by analogy with Rembrandt's drawings mentioned above a date in the mid-1640s seems more probable, as also for the British Museum's study.[2]
The figure's attitude, with her head resting on her hand, resembles the posture adopted by personifications of Melancholy (as in Dürer's engraving of 'Melencolia I', Bartsch 74), but it would be speculative to attach such connotations to the drawing.[3]
Two drawn copies are known[4] and an etching is recorded after the drawing, made by J.J. de Claussin in 1799.[5]

[1] Saxl, 1908, dated the drawing later and suggested that the model was Hendrickje.
[2] Flinck's drawing in Copenhagen has been associated (by Sumowski, under no.953x) with his paintings of militia companies in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, of 1645 and 1648 (von Moltke, 1965, pls.53 and 57), although he places the drawing in the early 1640s. The British Museum's sheet may also be compared with Flinck's two studies, now in Braunschweig, of a 'Bearded old Man standing next to a table with Books' (Sumowski 951x and 952x).
[3] See also the remarks under 1895,0915.1279.
[4] That owned by Mr Skrebowski in Cleveland (G.B.) is drawn over traces of black chalk and could be 17th or 18th century (226 x 172, with a random red chalk line on the verso; seen by the compiler in the British Museum on 25 November 1987); the second is in the Bibliotheek Arnhem, and was drawn to my attention by Peter Schatborn. In a letter of 10 Feb. 1993, the librarian, Dr H.C. van Bemmel, kindly provided the following details: pen and black ink, 197 x 148 (corners cut); inscribed at top (not necessarily in the same ink): 'Rembrandt del'; possibly on 19th century paper, and from an album formerly owned by the artist Alexander Ver Huell (1822-1897). The library reference is Kluis 833 (olim: 93 H 14).
[5] I have not found an impression of the print, which is however listed by HdG and later cataloguers.

LITERATURE (always as Rembrandt unless otherwise stated):
Michel, 1893, p.585; Dutuit, II, 1885, p.111; Seidlitz, 1894, p.126; 'Rembrandt van Rijn. 20 Tekeningen', c.1900, repr.; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.1123; Saxl, 1908, p.347 (probably of Hendrickje and datable c.1652); Wurzbach, 1910, p.419; London, 1915, no.29, repr. pl.V (c.1635-40: 'one of the finest studies of Rembrandt's earlier period'); Neumann, 1918[I], no.8, repr. (end of 1630s); Graul, 1924, no.25, repr. (c.1635-40); Hind, 1932, p.124, repr. pl.XCVIII; Paris, 1933, p.24, under no.1171 (compares Louvre drawing of a 'Seated Woman before an Altar', Benesch 284); Graul, 1934, no.21 (c.1640); Popham, 1939, p.68; Poortenaar, 1943, no.92, repr. (c.1635-40); Schinnerer, 1944, no.27, repr. (c.1640); Rosenberg, 1948, I, p.148, II, repr. fig.202 (likeness unimportant); Benesch, II, 1954/73, no.A12, repr. fig.577/617 (not Rembrandt; see main text above); van Gelder, 1955, p.396 (by Rembrandt, refuting Benesch); Regteren Altena, 1955[I], p.120 (as Van Gelder, 1955); Rosenberg, 1956[I], p.70 (by Rembrandt; follows dating proposed by Hind in London, 1915); van Gelder, 1961, p.150, n.13 (perhaps by Rembrandt); Haverkamp-Begemann, 1961, p.89 (Rembrandt; compares two drawings of Saskia, in Lugt Coll. and Louvre, Paris, Benesch 253-4); Sumowski, 1961, p.8 (c.1635); Rosenberg, 1964, p.243, repr. fig.202 and p.358, n.1a (of Saskia? notes rejection by Benesch); Slive, 1965, II, no.407, repr. (Rembrandt, c.1637-40); Frerichs, 1970, p.40, repr. pl.9 (by Rembrandt and of Saskia).

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Bequeathed by George Salting (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Sir John Charles Robinson (bt for £28; Amsterdam, 21-22.xi.1882/159) (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Sir Joshua Reynolds (L.2364) (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Richard Payne Knight (according to Bale sale catalogue) (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Philippe, Marquis de Chennevières (L.2073) (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Charles Sackville Bale (L.640, verso; Christie's, 10.vi.1881/2417) (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition notes
Sir Joshua Reynolds (L.2364); Richard Payne Knight (according to Bale sale cat.); Charles Sackville Bale (L.640, verso); his sale, Christie's, 10 June, 1881, lot 2417, bt Thibaudeau, £28-7-6; J.C. Robinson and Chennevières sale, Amsterdam, 21-22 Nov., 1882, lot 159, bt Schoffer, fl.80; bequeathed by George Salting, 1910.

Exhibition History
London, 1910 p.5;
1912, no.163 (Rembrandt);
1938, no.29;
1992, BM, Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle, not in catalogue (Flinck).

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