Sketch of a man leaning over a table; HL to front, with both arms on a table. c.1628-9 Pen and brown ink


© The Trustees of the British Museum

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Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: T,14.8

Additional IDs

Bibliographic reference
Hind 1915-31 14
Royalton-Kisch 2010 2 (Rembrandt)
Benesch 1973 35

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)
1628-1629 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

Sketch of a man leaning over a table; half-length to front, with both arms on a table. c.1628-1629
Pen and brown ink.
Verso: calligraphic trials - see Inscriptions.
No watermark.

Inscription Content: Inscribed with various calligraphic trials, perhaps by the artist, and in the same medium as the drawing (see illustration). The central part may read ‘Harm [...]’, as in the artist’s patronymic, ‘Harmensz.’.

Height: 97 millimetres
Width: 100 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 25mm apart)

Good, but stained; a small nick at the top left corner, a repaired tear at bottom centre; the sheet is a fragment, as is clear from the verso.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, 'Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school', 2010, Rembrandt, cat. no.2:
The drawing is entered as by Rembrandt in the earliest inventory of the Fawkener collection, drawn up in 1845, but has had a mixed reception in the literature.[1] The purpose of the sketch is unknown.
For the dating see further under cat. no.3. The comparison there made with the Rijksmuseum's study for the painting of 'Judas returning the thirty Pieces of Silver' (Benesch 9) is also valid for the present sheet, with its similarly angular, looping and fine pen lines. A later date has at times also been proposed but comparisons with later drawings seem less persuasive (see under Literature below).

[1] It had been placed with the school of Rembrandt by 1899, when it was omitted from the British Museum's exhibition of all its Rembrandt drawings. Hofstede de Groot catalogued it in 1906 as 'der Schule Rembrandts zugeschrieben' but Hind reclaimed it for the master in his catalogue of 1915. He compared it with drawings of the mid- to late 1630s, in particular with the Berlin copy after Leonardo's 'Last Supper' (Benesch 445), which is signed and dated 1635. Bauch (in 1933) was the first to revise the date to the Leiden period and Benesch, who at first (in 1935) assigned it to the early 1630s, later agreed, comparing it in his corpus to cat. no.3 (Oo,9.95), to the Berlin 'Oriental leaning on a Stick' (Benesch 10) and to the Rotterdam 'Seated Man' (Benesch 29).

LITERATURE (always as Rembrandt unless otherwise stated):
Bürger, 1858, p.401 (wrongly as Cracherode coll.); Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.906 (school of Rembrandt); London, 1915, no.14, repr. pl.III (c.1630-35); Bauch, 1933, p.46, repr. p.47, fig.33 and pp.186 and 188 (c.1628); Benesch, 1935, p.15 (c.1632-3); Oxford, 1938, p.78 (compares style and subject of sketch in Oxford, Benesch 56 verso); Benesch, I, 1954/73, no.35, repr. figs.32/42 (c.1628-9; see n.1 above); Sumowski, 1957-8, p.258 (compares Rijksmuseum's 'Bust of sleeping young Girl and Head of a Boy', Benesch A2, believing both to be authentic); Haverkamp-Begemann, 1992, p.463 (motif and chiaroscuro suggest relationship with 'Supper at Emmaus', Musée-Jacquemart-André, Paris, Corpus A16, Bredius 539); Schatborn, 1992, p.20 (figure may be holding something near his eye, while drawing or writing with his right hand); Giltaij, 1995, p.94 (agrees date c.1628-9 proposed in Exh. London, 1992 and compares 'Seated Man', Rotterdam, Benesch 29); Berlin, 2006, p.30, under no.3 and p.61, under no.12 (perhaps mid-1630s and made in the context of 'Baptist preaching' in Berlin, Bredius 555, Corpus A106, in which comparable figure appears in bushes above the Baptist).

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Bequeathed by William Fawkener (biographical details | all objects)

Exhibition History
London, 1938, no.14 (V.1630-35);
London, 1992, no.2, repr.

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