BEGGAR SEATED ON A BANK

Rembrandt Van Rijn
BEGGAR SEATED ON A BANK
etching
1630

An original Rembrandt Van Rijn etching.

1630

Original etching printed in black ink on laid paper

Signed with the artist’s monogram and dated in the plate in the title margin below the image RHL 1630.

A clear and clean 17th century/lifetime impression of Bartsch’s only state, Usticke and New Hollstein’s first state of two, of this scarce etching (characterized by G.W. Nowell-Usticke in his 1967 catalogue Rembrandt Etchings: States and Values as “uncommon,” and assigned his scarcity rating of “R-“ [75-125 impressions extant in that year]), printed prior to the reduction of the plate, showing the two horizontal scratches on the man’s right foot. 

Catalog: Bartsch 174; Hind 11; Biorklund-Barnard 30-B; Usticke 174 i/ii; New Hollstein 50 i/ii.

A work that confronts the complicated relationship between what we know of historical seventeenth-century social attitudes and what Rembrandt depicts is the 1630 etching of A Beggar Seated on a Bank, in which the beggar in the ragged cloak and scraggly beard, with open hand extended, has Rembrandt’s own features.  Its distinctive self-portrait character is made more vivid when it compared with another etching of an anonymous beggar of about 1630 (Beggar Seated Warming his Hands at a Chafing Dish, Bartsch 173) in which a seated vagabond with a stick and bundle warms his chilled hands over a dish of coals.  Rembrandt’s expression, with contracted brow and open mouth, is similar to that seen in one of the small emotive self-portraits of the same year (Self Portrait Open Mouthed, as if Shouting, B. 13).  This extraordinary bit of role-playing need not necessarily be taken as signifying a Christ-like identification on Rembrandt’s part with the beggar’s lot, but should perhaps be viewed – Rembrandt had a robust sense of visual humor – as a good, if inside, joke.  The twenty-four-year-old artist was not yet fully established and could use some financial assistance!

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