A play outdoors; actors performing on a raised stage before a large audience Pen and brown ink and brown wash


© The Trustees of the British Museum

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Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: 1925,1114.1

Bibliographic reference
Sumowski 1979 continuing 1956x (Maes)
Hind 1915-31 Add.178
Royalton-Kisch 2010 Maes.9

Dutch Roy XVIIc

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Object types
drawing (scope note | all objects)

paper (all objects)
drawn (scope note | all objects)
Production person
Attributed to Nicolaes Maes (biographical details | all objects)
Formerly attributed to Rembrandt (School of) (biographical details | all objects)
1665 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

A performance of an outdoor play with a crowd of spectators; actors performing on a raised stage. c.1665
Pen and brown ink with brown wash; ruled framing-lines in pen and brown ink.
Verso: see Inscriptions.
Watermark: Arms of Amsterdam with crowned shield and two lions rampant, similar type to Heawood 425 (on a drawing by Willem van de Velde of 1666).

Inscription Content: Inscribed verso, in graphite, lower left: ‘246-‘.

Height: 206 millimetres
Width: 317 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 23/26mm apart)

Good (very slight discolouration).

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, 'Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school', 2010, attributed to Nicolaes Maes, cat. no.9:
The drawing is by the same hand as cat.no.10 (1895,0915.1342).[1] It therefore belongs to a large group of works that has been variously attributed, and recently published chiefly under the names of the "Pseudo-Victors" (following a nineteenth-century attribution to Jan Victors) and Nicolaes Maes. As noted under the entry for that drawing, an attribution has recently been proposed to Maes' pupil and step-son, Justus de Gelder (1650-after 1707?).
The composition is reminiscent of an etching, perhaps from around 1650, by Constantijn Daniël van Renesse, which shows a performance taking place in a similar though not identical location.[2] It has already been observed that the setting resembles the background of Rembrandt's large drypoint, the 'Ecce Homo' of 1655.[3] If by Justus de Gelder, the drawing would have to be more than a decade later than the Rembrandt, an idea given some support by the watermark.

[1] As there noted, for a discussion of the group, with many illustrations, see Sumowski, 1979 etc., VIII, pp.4259-61 and nos.1904x-1956ax. Sumowski was the first to associate the drawing with this group of works.
[2] Hollstein 7 (for impressions in the British Museum, see 1848,0911.204 and 1983,U.402). See further Exh. Boston-Saint Louis, 1980-1, no.146, where Van Renesse's print is dated c.1650. A church tower is visible in the print and has been identified as that at Eindhoven.
[3] By Sumowski, loc. cit. Rembrandt's print is Bartsch 76, Hind 271, Hollstein B76.

National Art-Collections Fund Report, 1925, no.507, repr.; London, 1931, p.139, Add. 178; Sumowski, 1979 etc., VIII, 1984, p.4260 and p.4366, no.1956x, repr. (Maes).

theatre/theatrical life (scope note | all objects)

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Donated by Henry Van den Bergh (NACF) (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection C F van Victors (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection A P Rudolf (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Constantyn Daniël van Renesse (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection N Maes (biographical details | all objects)
Donated through The Art Fund (as NACF) (biographical details | all objects)

Exhibition History
London, 1933, no.92;
1992, BM, Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle (not in catalogue, as Maes).

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