DescriptionREMBRANDT VAN RIJN (Dutch, 1606-1669)
The Circumcision, circa 1626
8-3/8 x 6-1/2 inches (21.4 x 16.5 cm) (plate)
8-3/4 x 6-11/16 inches (22.2 x 17 cm) (sheet)
Sotheby's, London, December 17, 1965, lot 100;
Private collection, Fort Worth, Texas, acquired from the above.
(Not in Bartsch) Gersaint 48; Munz 187; Holl. S 398; Hind 388 - rejected; Biorklund/Barnard 26-2.
This ambitious composition, quite Italianate in feeling, is Rembrandt's first known etching. Although it was rejected as the work of a different hand by Bartsch, Hind and a number of other writers, The Circumcision of circa 1626 has since been nearly universally accepted as an authentic work by Rembrandt by contemporary scholars. Notably, the image reads more like a pen drawing than an etching, since the beginning etcher would not yet have mastered the sophisticated modulations of tone associated with the etching process.
Most writers describe two states for this etching--the first before the signature, and the second bearing (in the plate) both a signature "Rembrandt fecit" at lower left and publisher "I. P. Berendrech ex." at lower right. In addition, the first impression has no platemark, and a larger white border along the bottom; the second state possesses a platemark, a more fully-described basin upon which the birds rest at lower center, fuller etching tone along the right edge of the plate, and a diagonal line crossing the upper right corner of the plate. This impression of The Circumcision correlates with the features of the second state apart from the absence of the signature and publisher in the plate.
Impressions of this rare print are in the collections of the British Museum, London; Albertina, Vienna; Rijksprentenkabinett, Amsterdam; and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Matted and framed. Narrow 3/16-inch margins on all four sides; slightest time-toning and window mark; thinner spots in all four corners where sheet had beem mounted to earlier backing; some handling wear around perimeter of sheet; four very tiny pinpricks in sheet, two in upper central margin and two in the image in upper right quadrant where figures are leaning and looking down at the event below. On REVERSE of sheet: two pieces of more recent-looking scotch tape at top of sheet, and one piece in lower left corner; two pieces of buff-colored paper tape (former side hinges?) remain affixed to paper on right margin. RECTO: abrasion and evidence of an old repair in lower left corner with made up paper loss around border. Under high magnification there appears to be evidence of the name "Rembrandt" in the abraded area, suggesting that the printed name as signed in the second state of the print had been removed at some point. Single inked line around image etched in plate. Laid paper, no watermark or inscriptions. Framed Dimensions 11.375 X 13.75 Inches
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