A horse lying down with head to r Red and black chalk, on pale orange prepared paper


© The Trustees of the British Museum

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Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: Ff,4.121

Additional IDs

Bibliographic reference
Royalton-Kisch 2010 73 (attributed to Rembrandt)
Hind 1915-31 Add.10a (as Lievens)

Dutch Roy XVIIc

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Object types
drawing (scope note | all objects)

paper (all objects)
drawn (scope note | all objects)
Production person
Formerly attributed to Anonymous (Flemish School) (all objects)
Formerly attributed to Jan Lievens (biographical details | all objects)
Attributed to Rembrandt (biographical details | all objects)
1626 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

A horse lying down; with head to right. c.1626
Red and black chalk, touched with white, on paper prepared with orange-yellow wash.
Verso: blank.
No watermark.

Inscription Content: Inscribed recto, lower left, in pen and dark brown ink: '121.0.'

Height: 153 millimetres
Width: 206 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 23/24mm apart)

Good; cut from a sheet that was larger to left and at top.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, attributed to Rembrandt, cat. no.73.
In 1991, the compiler published this drawing, which since its acquisition in 1769 had been regarded as anonymous, as the work of Jan Lievens dating from c.1628-9 (see Literature below).
This attribution, which has received general (if only verbal) support, is sustainable mainly on the basis of its analogies with the 'Bust of an old Man' in a private collection.[1] The stylistic and technical comparisons are so close that there can be little doubt that they are by the same hand. Both employ the technique of red and black chalks on yellowish prepared paper that was favoured by Pieter Lastman and which Rembrandt sometimes adopted during his early career.[2]
Problems, however, beset this attribution on two fronts. First, there are several other early chalk drawings by Lievens in existence, the attribution of which to him is reasonably secure (including Lievens no.3 [1836,0811.347] in this catalogue), yet they all diverge markedly from the present work and from the 'Bust of an old Man', especially in their splintery angularity and their propensity for extended, almost straw-like lines. Secondly, the two latter drawings are in fact equally close or closer in style to early works by Rembrandt himself: the 'Bust of an old Man', in the head and hair, resembles the drawing in Berlin of a 'Seated old Man' of c.1627-8 (Benesch 7),[3] which is related to the painting now in Melbourne of 'Sts Peter and Paul disputing' (Corpus, I, no.A13). The 'Horse lying down' resembles the (probably somewhat later) drawing in Amsterdam of 'Two Horses at a Halt' (Benesch 461),[4] not least in the contrast between one horse's head with a rudimentary, rocking-horse anatomy, and another which is worked up in some detail. The anatomy of the head in its less detailed form compares well with that in the painting of the 'Baptism of the Eunuch' of 1626 in Utrecht, and the horses in the right background of the 'David before Goliath' of 1627 in Basel are also worthy of comparison.[5] The horse does not compare well with that in Lievens' drawing of 'Mucius Scaevola before Porsenna' now in Leiden, which is of the same period (Sumowski 1623x).
As Rembrandt's beginnings as a draughtsman are poorly documented, it is tempting to suggest that the 'Horse lying down' could be his rather than Lievens's work, and dates from around this time, c.1626.[6] Although this suggestion is likely to engender detractors, the challenge they will face will be to identify closer connections than these in works that are certainly by Jan Lievens (or some other master). As Rembrandt's paintings and etchings of c.1626-29 reveal, this was for him a period of rapid development, change and experiment, and it would be a mistake to confine Rembrandt's drawings to a stricter straightjacket than his works in the other two media.

[1] Repr. Exh. Amsterdam, 1988-9, p.36, no.12; Royalton-Kisch, 1991[III], p.414, fig.5; Exh. Kassel-Amsterdam, 2001-2, pp.176-7, no.18.
[2] For Lastman's drawings see Exh. Amsterdam, 1991-2.
[3] Inv. KdZ 5284, 296 x 211mm; Berlin, 2006, no.1, repr.
[4] Inv. 1961.77. 173 x 272 mm; Amsterdam, 1985, no.16. It is now generally agreed that the drawing dates from Rembrandt's Leiden period.
[5] Respectively Corpus, I, 1982, nos.A5 (Exh. Kassel-Amsterdam, 2001-2, no.3, repr.) and A9.
[6] The compiler would retain as by Lievens the 'Bust of an old Woman' in a private collection (Sumowski 539xx as by Dou; Exh. Amsterdam, 1988-9, no.11, repr. as Lievens; Exh. Kassel-Amsterdam, 2001-2, no.20, repr. as Lievens), in which the style retains the qualities described above as characteristic of Lievens.

Royalton-Kisch, 1991[III], pp.410-415 Lievens); ibid., Master Drawings, xlvii, 2009, pp.508-11, repr. fig.1 (Rembrandt, c.1626).

mammal (all objects)

Acquisition date

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

Exhibition History
1992, BM, Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle (not in catalogue, as Lievens, but closely resembling Rembrandt).

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