Sketches of an old man with a child; the man seated with the child standing on his knees and trying to remove his cap, another sketch, bust, of the same man holding the child in his arms, slight head sketches below. c.1639-40 Pen and brown ink, touched with brown wash, on light brown prepared paper


© The Trustees of the British Museum

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Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: 1910,0212.185

Bibliographic reference
Hind 1915-31 28
Royalton-Kisch 2010 28 (Rembrandt)
Benesch 1973 659

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 Rembrandt (biographical details | all objects)
1639-1640 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

Sketches of an old man with a child; the man seated with the child standing on his knees and trying to remove his cap, another sketch, bust, of the same man holding the child in his arms, slight head sketches below. c.1639-1640
Pen and brown ink, touched with brown wash (only below the man's elbow in the upper study and between his calves in the lower), on paper washed pale brown; remnants of ruled framing lines in pen and greyish-brown ink
Verso: see Inscriptions below
No watermark

Inscription Content: Inscribed lower right, in pen and brown ink: ‘do’; on verso, in pen and brown ink: ‘1835 WE.’, and ‘Rembrandt’; above this, in a different hand: ‘a-42’; faint graphite inscription, lower left: ‘39’, above this, also in graphite: ‘HG [mon.]’.

Height: 189 millimetres
Width: 157 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 23mm apart)

Good; the lower sketch accidentally smudged before the ink was dry.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, Rembrandt, cat. no.28.
The drawing was presumably made from life, the various poses reflecting the movements of Rembrandt's models. In the upper study the child succeeds in removing the man's cap.
The attribution to Rembrandt has never been doubted but suggestions for the date have varied from between around 1635 and 1647 (see Lit. below). Most of Rembrandt's studies of this kind are from the 1630s but the breadth of style in the present example and the abbreviations employed for the facial features also resemble sketches of the 1640s (e.g. cat. no.38; 1910,0212.189). Yet comparisons with his drawings of c.1639 are more compelling, for example with the verso of cat. no.24 (Gg,2.248) or the study in Melbourne for an 'Elder' (Benesch 157) in the Berlin painting of 'Susannah and the Elders' (Bredius 516), which although dated 1647 is thought to have been begun in the late 1630s.[1] The date proposed here, c.1639-40, makes some allowance for the drawing's analogies with works of the 1640s.
A drawing similar in technique, style and subject is in a private collection, showing a mother and child in two positions (Benesch 658). Two further studies in Stockholm of women and children are also comparable (Benesch 707-8).

[1] See Bredius-Gerson, 1969, p.600. The paper of the present sheet resembles that in other drawings of the late 1630s in the collection, such as the other genre studies here cat. nos.25-6 (1910,0212.181 and 184).

LITERATURE (always as Rembrandt):
Michel, 1893, p.585 (in Salting coll.); Lippmann, III, no.72; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.1126 (c.1635); Wurzbach, 1910, p.419; London, 1915, no.28 (c.1635-40); Weisbach, 1926, p.158 (this type of genre study occurs from 1630s to 1650s); Benesch, 1935, p.41 (c.1647); Benesch, IV, 1955/73, no.659, repr. fig.797/841 (c.1640-42; compared to 'Sheet of Studies' in private collection, Benesch 658); Haverkamp-Begemann, 1961, pp.54 and 90 (c.1635-40; groups with Benesch 707-8 [mentioned above] and the 'Nurse holding a Child', Benesch A63, Rijksmuseum [since rejected by Schatborn in Amsterdam, 1985, no.90]); Slive, 1965, II, no.406, repr. (c.1635-40); Gerson, 1968, p.477, repr. fig.d; Bernhard, 1976, II, repr. p.40; Schatborn, 1981[I], no.18, repr. (c.1640-42); Vogel-Köhn, 1981, pp.34 and 58, and no.66, repr. (c.1639-43; one of a group of drawings with children that exhibit humour); Courtright, 1994, p.604, repr. p.620, fig.11 (drawing roughed out, then elaborated, according to notions of Leonardo); Schwartz, 2006, p.60, repr. fig.95.

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Bequeathed by George Salting (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Sir Thomas Lawrence (L.2445) (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Andrew James (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection William Esdaile (L.2617) (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition notes
Thomas Lawrence (L.2445, lower left; in MS inventory of his collection as Rembrandt no.57); purchased from his collection by William Esdaile (L.2617 verso; see cat. no.15; inv. no.1895,0915.1264); his sale, Christie’s, 17 June, 1840, lot 50 bt Hodgson with lot 49, ‘Death of Saul’, £2-5-0; Andrew James; his sale, Christie’s, 28 April, 1873, lot 112, bt Salting, £12-0-0; George Salting, by whom bequeathed, 1910.

Exhibition History
London, Lawrence Gallery, 1835 (as cat. no.15; 1895,0915.1264);
Royal Academy, 1899, no.64;
British Museum, 1910, p.5;
1912, no.164;
1938, no.28 (c.1635-40);
1956, p.15, no.12;
1992, 'Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle', no.31, repr. in colour (c.1639-40);
1995 Jul-Sept, London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 'Drawing the Line', no. 174;
Exh. Boston-Chicago, 2003-4, 'Rembrandt's Journey:...', p.172, repr. p.170, no.101.

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