A group of people standing; to l four old men, one in a high hat, in the foreground two women, one carrying a baby on her back, the other kneeling. c.1647 Black chalk


© The Trustees of the British Museum

Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: 1884,1108.5

Bibliographic reference
Hind 1915-31 13
Royalton-Kisch 2010 43 (Rembrandt)
Benesch 1973 717

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)
1646 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

A group of people standing; to left four old men, one in a high hat, in the foreground two women, one carrying a baby on her back, the other kneeling. c.1647

Black chalk; ruled framing lines in greenish brown ink.

Verso: see Inscriptions.

No watermark.

Inscription Content: Rijmsdijk’s mark, lower left (see Provenance below); verso, in graphite: '71 [in a circle]'; and below: '70 [?]'.

Height: 86 millimetres (chain lines vertical, 26mm apart)
Width: 81 millimetres

Two stains - perhaps oil - lower right; soiled; old vertical creases.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, 'Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school', 2010, Rembrandt, cat. no.43:
Catalogue nos.40-43 (1884,1108.6, 1884,1108.3, 1884,1108.4 and 1884,1108.5, Benesch 718, 672, 671 and 717) belong with a sketch of a 'Mother and Child' at Orléans (Benesch 698a), which shares the same provenance, to a uniform group of small figure studies. With the exception of cat. no.42 (1884,1108.4) they were probably cut from a single sketchbook (some may even have come from the same leaf).[1] As well as sharing the same collectors' marks, they have framing lines in greenish-brown ink in common. Only cat. no.43 (1884,1108.5) also has the mark of Rijmsdijk.[2]
Although Benesch split the group in his chronological arrangement, there seems little justification for doing so. The only comparable studies in black chalk that can be securely dated are of 1645 and 1647. The first, a 'Young Girl leaning out of a Window' in the Courtauld Institute (Benesch 700, Princes Gate Collection), is a study for the dated painting in Dulwich (Bredius 368); the second, the 'Blind Beggar and his Family' in Amsterdam (here Benesch 749, Historisch Museum), has on the verso a sketch for Rembrandt's dated etching of 'Jan Six' made in 1647 (Bartsch 285, Hind 228). Of these, it is the recto of the latter which provides the closest parallels, both in subject and style, with the present group of drawings.[3] There is also a connection between cat. no.41 (1884,1108.3) and the central figure in the National Gallery's 'Adoration of the Shepherds' of 1646 (Bredius 575).

[1] Cat. no.42 appears to be drawn on the thinner paper found with many studies of this type and period (see under cat. no.65; inv. no.Oo,9.104, Benesch 1281A and Amsterdam, 1985, under no.28, also dated c.1647).
[2] For this collector, see Tonkovich 2005.
[3] Of the many other comparable drawings of this type in Benesch's catalogue, but without the same provenance, particular mention might be made of his no.358, 'Two Women walking in a Street', now in Berlin, and no.720, 'Four Beggars', formerly in the Heseltine collection. Again, Benesch dated these separately, the former to c.1637, the latter c.1647.

Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.921; London, 1915, no.13, repr. pl.III (c.1630-40?); Benesch, 1935, p.40 (c.1647-50); Benesch, IV, 1955/73, no.717, repr. fig.860/909 (c. 1646-7; compares 'Group of Men in Discussion', Benesch 714, Amsterdam Historisch Museum, 'St Peter Preaching', Benesch 595, priv. coll., and 'Blind Beggar and his Family', Benesch 749, Amsterdam, Historisch Museum); Munich, 1973, I, p.183, under no.1243, and p.186, under no.1282 (compared to Munich drawings with these numbers, respectively a 'Standing Man, to right' and a 'Standing Woman, to left', repr. op. cit., II, pls.343 and 348); Vogel-Köhn, 1981, no.85, repr. (as Benesch); Berlin, 2006, p.124, n.6 (compares figure on the verso of Benesch 803).

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Purchased from Miss Milner (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Jan van Rymsdyk (L.2167) (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Joseph van Haecken (L.2516) (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Sir Joshua Reynolds (L.2364) (biographical details | all objects)

Exhibition History
London, 1899, no A58d;
1938, no.13 (c.1630-40?);
1992, BM Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle, no.50, repr. (c.1646).

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