Abraham prostrated before Jehovah (in the form of an Eastern Patriarch) and the two angels; Sarah near a large tree to l, buildings and a viaduct behind Red and black chalk and charcoal with pen and brown ink and brown and grey wash


© The Trustees of the British Museum

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Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: Oo,10.121

Bibliographic reference
Hind 1915-31 117 (Anon.)
Sumowski 1979 continuing 1789x
Royalton-Kisch 2010 Maes.2

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 Nicolaes Maes (biographical details | all objects)
Formerly attributed to Rembrandt (School of) (biographical details | all objects)
1650 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

Abraham prostrated before Jehovah and the two Angels; Sarah near a large tree to left, buildings and a viaduct behind. c.1650

Pen and brown ink with red and black chalk and brown and grey wash, touched with white; framing-lines in pen and dark brown ink.

Verso: see Inscriptions.

Watermark: Posthorn in crowned shield, ‘WR’ below (cf. Laurentius, p. 256, no.622 [1644])

Inscription Content: Inscribed verso, in graphite, top left: ‘7 [in a circle]’.

Height: 231 millimetres
Width: 326 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 22/24mm apart)


Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, 'Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school', 2010, Nicolaes Maes, cat. no.2:

For the subject, see cat.no.5 (1905,1110.68). The drawing was long considered to be an especially important work by Rembrandt, until it was omitted from the Rembrandt exhibition at the British Museum in 1899. The highly pictorial quality of the drawing and the combination of different coloured chalks and washes with some pen and ink relates it to works attributable to the young Nicolaes Maes, including cat. no.1 (1895,0915.1200). Like that drawing, and despite a few minor 'pentimenti', the present sheet may be based on a painting, now lost, thus forming part of the same category of Rembrandt's studio production. A date c.1650 seems likely, earlier than the other drawing by Maes of this subject in the British Museum's collection (cat.no.5; 1905,1110.68).
A partial copy, showing only the group of three figures to the right, is in Berlin.[1]

[1] Berlin, 1930, p.183, inv. no.1582.

LITERATURE (since Valentiner, 1924, as Maes; Vienna drawing = inv. no.8764, Sumowski 259x):
Smith, 1836, no.19; Bürger, 1858, p.399 (Rembrandt; 'première qualité'); Blanc, II, 1861, p.453 (Rembrandt; 'dessin étonnant et indescriptable!'); Vosmaer, 1877, p.584 (Rembrandt); Dutuit, II, 1885, pp.85 and 99 (Rembrandt; from Lempereur and Prince de Conti collections); Kleinmann, II, 44 (Rembrandt); Bell, c.1905, p.16 (Rembrandt; disagreeing with its omission from Exh. London, 1899); Valentiner, 1905, pp.41-2 and 46 (Rembrandt, c.1645; central angel is Hendrickje); Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.863 (Rembrandt); Becker, 1909, pp.102-3, repr. pl.XI (Rembrandt; landscape imbues atmosphere consonant with action); Wurzbach, 1910, p.417 (Rembrandt); London, 1915, pp.43-4, no.117, repr. pl.XIV (Anon.; presumably based on Rembrandt by a pupil c.1640-50; relates composition to Vienna drawing); Bredt, 1921, I, repr. p.7; Valentiner, 1924, pp.28-9, repr. p.2, fig.2 (Maes; based on Vienna drawing by Rembrandt); Bredt, 1927, I, repr. p.7 (pupil; echoes early Rembrandt); Berlin, 1930, p.183, inv. no.1582 (partial copy in Berlin); Münz, 1937, p.97, n.2 (based on Vienna drawing); Amsterdam, 1942, p.25, under no.53 (compares Vienna drawing); Sciolla, 1972, pp.75-6, notes 5 and 13; Sumowski, 1979 etc., VIII, 1984, no.1789x, repr. (c.1648-50; compares painterly sheets by Van Hoogstraten and later variants by or attrib. to Maes in London [here cat. no.5; 1905.1110.68 and Vienna, Akademie, inv.4001; Sumowski 1905x); Exh. London, 1992, pp.12-13, repr. fig.v (provenance and attributional history); Starcky, 1993, p.208.

old testament (all objects)

Associated names
Representation of Sarah (biographical details | all objects)
Representation of Abraham (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition date

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

Acquisition notes
Always as Rembrandt. J. D. Lempereur; his sale, Paris, 24 May, 1773 and following days, lot 326, bt Prince de Conti, 639.19 livres; his sale, Paris, 8 April, 1777, lot 1013 (‘dessin capital’; framed – ‘sous verre’), 320 livres;* François Fagel; his sale, London, T. Philipe, 4th day, 23 May, 1799, lot 366, bt Baro, £0-13-0;** bequeathed by Richard Payne Knight, 1824. * The Lempereur and Prince de Conti provenance was first noted by Dutuit, IV, 1885, p.99. ** The Fagel sale catalogue describes the drawing as follows, leaving little room for doubt concerning the identification: ‘One – a landschape, with a great tree in the middle – four figures in the foreground – one an angel – subject unknown – grand effect – red chalk, Indian ink, & bistre’.

Exhibition History
London, 1858, 1859, 1860, no.117 (as Rembrandt);
London, 1956, p.31, no.3 (anonymous);
1992, BM, Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle (not in catalogue, as Maes).

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