Study of a woman in Oriental dress (probably Saskia); WL, standing, wearing a full-length dress and headdress with long veil, in profile to l Black chalk, touched with pen and brown ink


© The Trustees of the British Museum

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Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: 1935,0608.8

Bibliographic reference
Royalton-Kisch 2010 119 (anonymous Rembrandt School)
Hind 1915-31 Add.13a

Dutch Roy XVIIc

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Object types
drawing (scope note | all objects)

paper (all objects)
drawn (scope note | all objects)
Production person
Circle/School of Rembrandt (anonymous) (biographical details | all objects)
1645-1654 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

A girl in Oriental dress; whole-length, standing, wearing a full-length dress and headdress with long veil, in profile to left. c.1645-54
Black chalk, touched with pen and brown ink
Verso: laid down
No watermark visible

Inscription Content: None visible.

Height: 118 millimetres
Width: 72 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 25mm apart)

Much rubbed and retouched, especially in the shading in front of the eyes, the lower profile of the left arm and the three dark vertical folds in the drapery; retouching also obscures outlines near the breast and behind the turban; the pen and brown ink probably not original, either; a repaired tear, upper left, and surface dirt throughout.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, anonymous Rembrandt School, cat. no.119.
The worn and retouched condition of the drawing, described above, makes a judgment of its quality difficult; but in no part does it seem wholly persuasive as Rembrandt's work. If by him, it would probably have been drawn between c.1645, the date of the 'Young Girl leaning out of a Window' in black chalk in the Courtauld Institute (Benesch 700, Princes Gate Collection), and c.1654, the date of Rembrandt's last etching of 'Christ among the Doctors' (Bartsch 64, Hind 277), for which there is a possibly related black chalk drawing in Rotterdam of 'Two Men in Conversation' (Benesch 676).[2] Other comparable drawings are the 'Bust of a Girl' in Brussels (Benesch 699) and the 'Young Negress' in the E.J. Reynolds collection at Territet (Montreux; Benesch 1077),[3] which has a similar style of background hatching that abuts the profile of the figure, an unusual feature in a black chalk drawing by Rembrandt.
Compared with these works, the British Museum's study makes an incoherent impression, and on balance it seems inadmissible for Rembrandt. Yet the closeness with which his style is followed suggests that the drawing is by a pupil of the years around 1645-54, familiar with Rembrandt's own black chalk drawings of this period.

[1] The letter is now in the British Library, Department of Manuscripts (MSS Add.44,919K).
[2] For the date of the Rotterdam drawing, see under cat. no.44 (1986,1213.2).
[3] The latter drawing I have not seen.

Hind, 1936, p.87 (by Rembrandt, early; possibly of Saskia in fancy costume; rubbed and retouched; provenance).

Associated names
Portrait of Saskia van Uylenburgh (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Purchased from Colnaghi (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Anonymous (Puttick and Simpson, 15.iii.1935/43) (all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Dr Rev Henry Wellesley (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Sir Thomas Lawrence (L.2445) (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection William Esdaile (L.2617) (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition notes
This item has an uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45. The British Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of all works during that era. Thomas Lawrence (L.2445); William Esdaile (L.2617; see under cat. no.15; 1895,0915.1264); possibly his sale, Christie’s, 17 June, 1840, lot 74: ‘A female figure in oriental costume, and a slight sketch of figures’, bt Tiffin, 13s, with lot 75, 'Peter walking to Christ from the Ship' (see cat. no.48; 1910,0212.180); Dr H. Wellesley (according to letter from him, sold with the drawing, dated at Oxford, 23 March, 1857, to Robert Howlett, Esq., Photographic Institution, 168 New Bond St., containing the words: 'I take this opportunity of sending you a drawing by Rembrandt, which, if it be not too faint for photography, is worth doing for its grace and beauty. It was Sir Thomas Lawrence’s.');* sale (Property of a Lady), Puttick and Simpson, 15 March, 1935, lot 43, repr.; P.& D. Colnaghi & Co., from whom purchased with the aid of the Malcolm exchange fund (Malcolm add.110). *Please see n.1 under Comment.

Exhibition History
Presumably London, Lawrence Gallery, 1835 (not individually described in the catalogue; see under cat. no.15; 1895,0915.1264);
British Museum, 1938, no.13a (as Hind, 1936 - see Lit. under Comment).

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