Mattathias and the Officers of Antiochus at Modin; an officer in a high hat at l foreground talking to Mattathias, who is facing him with hands folded, another officer and two of the priest's sons behind, one pointing to the large altar behind at r. c.1633-5 Pen and brown ink, with brown wash Verso: Slight sketch of two figures in a landscape Red chalk


© The Trustees of the British Museum

  • VersoVerso

Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: Oo,10.205

Bibliographic reference
Benesch 1973 148
Hind 1915-31 16
Royalton-Kisch 2010 8 (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
Drawn by Rembrandt (biographical details | all objects)
1633-1635 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

Mattathias and the Officers of Antiochus at Modin; an officer in a high hat at left foreground talking to Mattathias, who is facing him with hands folded, another officer and two of the priest's sons behind, one pointing to the large altar behind at right. c.1633-1635

Pen and brown ink with brown wash; the verso in red chalk.

Verso: a slight sketch with figures in a landscape.

No watermark.

Inscription Content: Inscribed, verso, in graphite: ‘3 [in a circle]’.

Height: 170 millimetres (chain lines vertical, 24-25mm apart)
Width: 217 millimetres

Generally good; a diagonal fold at lower right corner and a small repaired tear near the top left corner; the sheet perhaps slightly trimmed, the figures being cut at the left.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, 'Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school', 2010, Rembrandt, cat. no.8:
The identification of the subject (from the Apocrypha, I Maccabees 2, 15-22) is not entirely certain although no plausible alternative has emerged.[1] The priestly figure of Mattathias is addressed by an officer in a tall hat and by one of his sons, who points towards the altar.
It has been pointed out that in style the drawing resembles the figure studies (in particular Benesch 141-2 in Berlin and at Chatsworth) for the painting of 'St John the Baptist preaching' in Berlin (Bredius 555, Corpus A106), executed c.1634-5.[2] The analogies extend from the rendering of details such as the hair, sleeves, folds of drapery and shadows on the ground to the gestures and grouping of the figures. The foreground shading and the drapery also recall a drawing now in the J. Paul Getty Museum of an 'Artist in his Studio' (Benesch 390), dated by Benesch to around 1632-3.
The chalk study on the verso, first published in 1992, was discovered when the sheet was lifted from its mount in 1958.[3] It seems to represent two figures, the one on the left carrying a basket, in a landscape setting. In style it resembles the 'Christ among the Disciples' of 1634 in Haarlem (Benesch 89, especially the passage towards the upper right), the 'Entombment', here cat.no.12 (T,14.6) and the sketch on the verso of the 'Sacrifice of Isaac', cat.no.10 (1897,1117.5), similarities that lend support to the dating c.1633-5 proposed here.[4]
The attribution of the recto has been questioned and Fedinand Bol's name proposed (see Lit. below). In fact the attribution to van den Eeckhout with which the drawing entered the British Museum in 1824 would be more worthy of consideration, but at present the attribution to Rembrandt remains the most persuasive, and is supported by the drawing on the verso.

[1] First suggested by Hind in London, 1915. He surmised 'that the story, as told of John and Nikanor in the Jewish Synagogue version, called the 'Scroll of Antiochus', may also have been thought of'. I know of no other representation of the subject.
[2] The first comparison by Hind, loc. cit., the second by Benesch, 1954.
[3] Note by C. White in Museum files.
[4] The figures might conceivably represent 'Ruth and Naomi' (Ruth I, 14-22).

LITERATURE (always as Rembrandt unless otherwise stated):
Kleinmann, III, no.61; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.964; London, 1915, no.16 (see nn.1-2 above); Van Dyke, 1927, p.83 (de Gelder); Benesch, 1935, p.27 (c.1637); Benesch, 1947, under no.90 (mid-1630s); Benesch, I, 1954/73, no.148, repr. fig.161/178 (A1637); Bauch, 1960, p.262, n.143; Munich, 1973, p.162, under no.1125 (compares Munich 'Man in Cap', Benesch 355); Schatborn, 1994, p.21 (verso typical of Rembrandt but recto not – wash not integrated, motifs taken from Benesch 141 – the full-faced figure, but wearing a tall hat from another figure); Giltaij, 1995, p.96 (perhaps by Bol, c.1640).

Literature after Royalton-Kisch 2010: Holm Bevers, review of Martin Royalton-Kisch's catalogue, in The Burlington Magazine (2013), p.103 (as Gerbrand van den Eeckhout?).

old testament (all objects)

Associated names
Representation of Mattathias (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition date

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

Exhibition History
London, 1899, no.A61;
1938, no.16 (c.1630-35);
1992, no.10, repr. in colour.

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