JAN CORNELIS SYLVIUS

Rembrandt Van Rijn
JAN CORNELIS SYLVIUS
Etching
1623

An original Rembrandt Van Rijn Etching.

1623

Original etching printed in black ink on thin laid paper bearing an unidentified coat-of arms watermark.

Signed and dated in the plate at the center of the left edge Rembrandt f. 1623.

A strong, dark 19th century impression of Bartsch’s second and final state, Usticke and New Hollstein’s third state of three, printed after the addition of extra work to the nostril at the left and to the shadows under the eyebrows, showing some touches of sulphur tinting. One of six Rembrandt etchings published by J.M. Creery in “A Collection of 200 Original Etchings,” London, 1816.

Catalog: Bartsch 266 ii/ii; Hind 111; Biorklund-Barnard 33-H; Usticke 266 iii/iii; New Hollstein 124 iii/iii.

Size: 6 5/8 x 5 5/8 inches

 

Jan Cornelis Sylvius (1564-1638), a preacher in the Dutch Reformed Church in Amsterdam beginning in 1610, was the legal guardian of Rembrandt’s wife-to-be, Saskia van Uylenburgh, at the time this etching was made. It was to Sylvius that Rembrandt made his appeal for Saskia’s hand. This portrait undoubtedly helped engineer the old man’s consent, for Saskia and Rembrandt married the year after its completion. His hands clasped over his Bible and his head covered by a skullcap, the early Sylvius (Rembrandt executed another, posthumously, in 1646), conveys the asceticism of this religious scholar.

This etched portrait of Sylvius is a quiet and restrained work, quite different from the majority of the painted portraits of those years. The background always plays a very limited role in early portrait studies, however, in this etching the gray of the background effectively sets off the modeling in light and dark of the face and clothing. The deep blacks of the clothing and the skullcap were achieved by biting the plate twice.