Abraham prostrated before Jehovah and the two angels; a gateway behind Red chalk


© The Trustees of the British Museum

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Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: 1905,1110.68

Bibliographic reference
Hind 1915-31 116
Sumowski 1979 continuing 1797x
Royalton-Kisch 2010 Maes.5

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)
1655 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

Abraham prostrated before Jehovah and the two Angels (light sketch); a gateway behind. c.1665

Red chalk, touched with red wash, on creamy buff paper; framing-lines in pen and brown ink.

Verso: see Inscriptions.

Watermark: Cross of Lorraine.

Inscription Content: Inscribed verso, in graphite, top centre: ‘10 [underlined]’.

Height: 170 millimetres
Width: 293 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 24mm apart)

Generally good, though creased at top right and with slight stains at other three corners; a yellow stain, upper right, and some brown stains in the left half of the sheet; two repairs where damaged along the top.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, 'Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school', 2010, Nicolaes Maes, cat. no.5:
The subject is from Genesis 18, i-v: three men arrive at Abraham's house, where they receive his hospitality. It transpires that one of them is Jehova himself, and the two others are angels.
The figure of Abraham bowing before God was studied separately in a sketch now in Rotterdam.[1] This is on the verso of a drawing datable c.1655 because of the relationship between the sketches of eavesdroppers on the recto and several paintings of these years.[2] There is a clear relationship with cat. no.2 (Oo,10.121) of the same subject, but from the style and the evidence of the Rotterdam drawing it seems that the present sheet may be the later of the two, rather than a rough preliminary sketch towards the other. The design has some affinities with another Rembrandt school drawing of the subject now in Vienna, which has been ascribed to Ferdinand Bol.[3] See further cat. no.2 (Oo,10.121).

[1] Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, inv. R.63, verso; Sumowski 1782 , repr.
[2] Sumowski 1770.
[3] Vienna, Albertina, inv. no.8764 (Sumowski 259x).

LITERATURE (from Valentiner, 1923, always as Maes unless otherwise stated):
London, 1915, p.43, no.116, repr. pl.XIV (perhaps by a Rembrandt pupil c.1650 rather than by the master; identifies subject); Valentiner, 1923[I], p.17, repr. pl.1A (early Maes; relates to comparable figure on verso of drawing now in Rotterdam [ex. Dalhousie collection; inv.R63, Sumowski 1782]); Valentiner, 1924, p.30, repr. p.3, fig.4; Berlin, 1930, p.183, under no.4246 (follows Valentiner); Rijckevorsel, 1932, pp.173-4, repr. fig.218 (relates composition to Raphael's design known through a print which the author states is by Callot, and to a drawing by Rembrandt in Rotterdam [now rejected, Benesch C93]); Münz, 1937, p.97, n.2 (based on Albertina drawing, inv.8764, Sumowski 259x); Amsterdam, 1942, p.25, under no.53; Slive, 1964, pp.295-6 and n.25, repr. fig.23); Slive, 1965, II, no.507, repr.; Sumowski, 1979 etc., VIII, 1984, no.1797x (later than other British Museum version [cat. no.2; Oo,10.121]); Robinson, 1989 (1990), diss., p.162, n.33 (as Sumowski 1979 etc.).

old testament (all objects)
angel (all objects)

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

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Purchased from Colnaghi (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Richard Cosway (L.628; not identifiable in his sale catalogue of 1822, in which many descriptions are rudimentary) (biographical details | all objects)

Exhibition History
1992, BM, Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle, not in catalogue

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