The Good Samaritan; Samaritan helping man off horse at steps of a large building, another man holds horse's bridle, two men converse in doorway, figure in window above, woman drawing water from well in background to l. 1632? Black chalk with brown wash, guiding pinholes at points in image, on brown paper, with brown wash line around edge


© The Trustees of the British Museum

Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: 1993,0619.5

Bibliographic reference
Royalton-Kisch 2010 93 (anonymous after Rembrandt)
Hind 1915-31 Add.138a

Dutch Roy XVIIc

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Object types
drawing (scope note | all objects)

paper (all objects)
drawn (scope note | all objects)
Production person
After Rembrandt (biographical details | all objects)
1650 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

The Good Samaritan; Samaritan helping man off horse at steps of a large building, another man holds horse’s bridle, two men converse in doorway, figure in window above, woman drawing water from well in background to left. c. 1650

Black chalk with brown wash on grey-brown cartridge paper; framing-lines in pen and brown ink.

Verso: blank.

No watermark.

Inscription Content: Inscribed lower left, in black chalk: '1632'.

Height: 252 millimetres
Width: 205 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 24mm apart)

Good; rubbed at lower right.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, anonymous after Rembrandt, cat. no.93.
The subject is from St Luke 10, xxx-xxxv, and shows the Samaritan arriving at the inn with the wounded man whom robbers had attacked, and arranging for him to be accommodated.
The composition is by Rembrandt and known through a painting in the Wallace Collection in London, which bears the date 1630 ('Corpus' C48), and an etching by Rembrandt which shows the design in reverse and with some variations, dated 1633 (Bartsch 90; Hind 101).
The drawing seems to follow the painting rather than the etching, which includes in the foreground a dog, barrel, fodder-trough and other additional details, as well as some rough-hewn wooden panelling against the wall by the stairs, an unshadowed step by the innkeeper's feet, and a buttress against the wall beyond the figure of the Samaritan. Minor details are also added in the etching to the two servants in the foreground - a plume to the cap of the boy holding the reins and a garter gathering the trouser-leg of the lifting servant in the centre. Pentimenti in the horse in the print reveal that it was originally placed closer to the boy, but it is unclear whether this was also originally the case with the painting.
However, the drawing does not copy the painting as we see it today in several respects: the drawing omits the dark patch under the horse's belly, the wooden, ladder-like wooden support for the hoist by the trees (which is clearer in the etching than in the painting), the darkness of the window-panes to the left of the doorway and has a lower line of shadow running under the awning. A few other, minor details are omitted, such as the buckle on the saddle-strap and the details of crumbling bricks and plaster on the walls and well-head. In a copy that is not overly painstaking, the more minor discrepancies might be expected. Less easily explained are the date, 1632, on the drawing, which differs from the dates on both the painting (1630) and the etching (1633); and the superior articulation of the foliage of the tree at the upper centre, which in the drawing is more clearly understood than in the painting or the etching (although the etching is at this point superior to the painting).
The important question that arises is whether these discrepancies support the suggestion made by the Rembrandt Research Project ('Corpus') in 1986 that the drawing copies a lost prototype, one that the drawing may in some respects record more exactly than the painting in the Wallace Collection, which they also viewed as a copy. The panel would therefore join the drawing and the etching, which are all the same size, as records of a lost work, one that was possibly intended to be a preparatory sketch for the etching of 1633.
Certainly the painting, which some writers have rejected as a copy (and even as an eighteenth century one), is of disappointing quality.[2] In its drawing it is slack, the perspectival recession is flawed, the facial expressions lack Rembrandt's customary acuity and the signature, though not added later, appears suspect. If Rembrandt made the painting as a sketch for the print it has little in common with his other preparatory sketches of this type, which are usually painted in limited tones or en grisaille.[3] If he intended it as a finished work it is difficult to find any clear stylistic analogies with his other paintings of the same scale painted between 1630 and 1633. On the face of it, its attribution to Rembrandt is difficult to sustain. On the other hand the X-radiograph suggests that the painting may not be a copy, as it exhibits a number of differences with the finished surface. Strangely, a print made after the painting in 1771 by Louis Binet does not show the heavy shadow under the horse's belly, and it omits the plastered section of the well-head, describing it as a continuation of the brickwork.[4] It may therefore be that the painting has suffered more than is generally acknowledged, and still contains later additions. However, the present writer supports the original view of the 'Corpus' (which has since been revised) that the painting is not Rembrandt's original, but a school work (perhaps, as they suggested, executed in c.1633-4 by Govert Flinck). Like the drawing, the prototype may have been dated 1632.
In style the drawing is not obviously Rembrandtesque and somewhat resembles the work of Roelandt Roghman (1627-92), although the paper employed is unusual for him - or indeed for any seventeenth-century artist. Yet as stated above, it seems likely that it was made within a few decades of Rembrandt's original painting.

[1] According to 'Corpus' (see Lit. below).
[2] As noted in 'Corpus' (see Lit. below) the painting was rejected by Martin, 1921, and Gerson as well as by the 'Corpus' itself. The idea that it is probably an eighteenth-century copy was mooted by Filedt Kok in Amsterdam, 1972, pp.83-4.
[3] See Van de Wetering in Exh. Amsterdam-London, 2000-2001, pp.36-63.
[4] These were unchanged at the time of the painting's restoration in 1976. Binet's print in general follows the details of the painting as it was seen until 1976.

'Corpus', II, 1986, pp.613-5, repr. fig.4 (as Circle of Rembrandt [Claes Moeyaert?]); London, 1992, pp.123-5, repr. (as 'Corpus'); Exh. London, 1992[I], p.18 (as 'Corpus'); London, 2004, p.348 ([confused mention as if two different drawings!]); Brown, 2006, p.58 ('Rembrandtesque'; 'drawing could equally well be a free copy of the print').

parable of good samaritan (scope note | all objects)

Associated names
Representation of Good Samaritan (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Purchased through Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox (London) (biographical details | all objects)
Purchased through Christie's (Old Master Drawings sale 20 Apr 1993/317) (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. 1982 with Henk J. Stokking in Amsterdam (see Note [1] under Comment); sale, London, Christie’s 20 April, 1993, lot 317, bt Hazlitt, Gooden and Fox for the British Museum.

Exhibition History

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