Rembrandt Etching: LIEVEN WILLEMSZ VAN COPPENOL, WRITING-MASTER: THE SMALLER PLATE
Rembrandt Etching: LIEVEN WILLEMSZ VAN COPPENOL, WRITING-MASTER: THE SMALLER PLATE

LIEVEN WILLEMSZ VAN COPPENOL, WRITING-MASTER: THE SMALLER PLATE

Rembrandt Van Rijn
LIEVEN WILLEMSZ VAN COPPENOL, WRITING-MASTER: THE SMALLER PLATE
Etching
c.1658

An original Rembrandt Van Rijn Etching.

c.1658

Original etching, engraving and drypoint printed in black ink on laid paper bearing an unidentified coat of arms watermark.

A very fine late 17th / early 18th century impression of Bartsch and Usticke’s sixth and final state, New Hollstein’s sixth state of seven, of this extremely scarce etching (characterized by G.W. Nowell-Usticke in his 1967 catalogue Rembrandt’s Etchings: States and Values as “very rare,” and assigned his scarcity rating of “RRR-” [30 to 50 impressions extant in that year]). Printed after the large circular disk was restored to the wall behind the child’s head at the right, but prior to the final reworking of the plate with the mezzotint rocker.

Catalog: Bartsch 282 vi/vi; Hind 269; Biorklund-Barnard 58-I; Usticke 282 vi/vi; New Hollstein 305 vi/vii.

Platemark: 9 1/8 x 7 3/4 inches Sheet size: 9 3/8 x 7 11/16 inches

Lieven Willemsz van Coppenol (1599-1667) was the principal of the "French school" in Amsterdam until 1650.  An important part of the curriculum in those days was calligraphy, and ordinary schoolmasters were among the most proficient practitioners of this art.  When Coppenol suffered a kind of nervous breakdown and was prevented from continuing his work as a schoolmaster, he devoted himself altogether to calligraphy, becoming something of a fanatic about it.  He traveled all over the country giving demonstrations and showing off his work, and he soon came to be a well known figure.

His fame was due in the first place to his capacity for self-promotion.  Among his gimmicks was the commissioning of etched portraits of himself by famous artists (including Cornelis Visscher and Rembrandt) which he would send to as many poets as he could think of with the request to write poems of praise to him or his work.  If they insisted upon it, he would even pay them.

Given this practice of Coppenol’s, it would seem fairly certain that Rembrandt’s etched portrait of him was commissioned.  There is no evidence that the two men were friends, as is supposed in much of the older literature.

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