Jan Uytenbogaert, The Gold-Weigher

Rembrandt Van Rijn
Jan Uytenbogaert, The Gold-Weigher
etching & drypoint
1639

An original Rembrandt Van Rijn etching & drypoint print.

1639

Original etching and drypoint printed in black ink on laid paper.

Signed and dated in the title margin below the image, lower left Rembrandt f. / 1639.

A superb 18th century impression of Bartsch’s second and final state, Usticke’s second state of three, New Hollstein’s third and final state, showing the skillful retouching of the plate by Captain William Baillie (see the eight short vertical lines between the boy’s left leg and the foot of the chair), with touches of burr on the fur of the cloak and elsewhere.

10 x 8 1/16 inches

In the year 1639, Rembrandt was commissioned (most probably through the offices of the art aficionado and advisor Constantin Huyghens) by Prince Frederik Hendrik – the Stadholder of the Dutch Court at the Hague – to do two paintings of scenes from the Passion of Christ. Huyghens was instrumental in the commission with his recommendation of Rembrandt to Frederik Hendrik after being asked to compare the artist’s talents as a painter to those of Rembrandt’s friend Johanis Lievens. Rembrandt was judged the superior painter. For reasons still unclear today, there was a substantial delay between the completion and delivery of these two paintings, “The Descent from the Cross” and “The Resurrection,” and receipt of payment by Rembrandt for them. The artist found himself in particular need of cash at this time since the first installment on his new house on Amsterdam’s Breestraat was coming due. He wrote several pressing letters to Huyghens to ask his intervention in expediting the payment from Frederik Hendrik, but apparently to no avail. At some point during this period, Rembrandt made the acquaintance of Jan Uytenbogaert, the Receiver-General for the Dutch Court in Amsterdam and the distant relative of the man by the same name – an Arminian prelate – of whom Rembrandt had done a portrait etching four years earlier (Bartsch 279). The Receiver-General visited the artist as he was packing the finished paintings for shipment from Amsterdam to the Hague. Uytenbogaert, having developed an appreciation for Rembrandt’s work, asked if he could view the paintings prior to their being sent. Since a friendship had begun to develop between the two men, the Receiver-General offered to approach the Prince to ask again for the payment. A letter was written. A month later when no response had been received, Uytenbogaert acted as intermediary for Rembrandt and approached Frederik Hendrik’s Treasurer and arranged for payment to be made through the Receiver-General’s office in Amsterdam. Thus the matter was finally resolved. The execution of this etching is generally agreed to be a gesture of appreciation expressed by Rembrandt for Uytenbogaert’s concern and assistance.

The official is depicted in 16th century costume, weighing moneybags and handing them to a young assistant to be put away in chests for safekeeping. It does not seem likely that the etching shows Uytenbogaert at his daily work. It is probably an allegorical representation of him and his profession cast in the form of a genre scene. The anecdotal manner fits in very nicely with the 16th century depictions of moneychangers by Quentin Massys and Marinus van Reynerswaele. There is every reason to believe that the etching was produced in collaboration with the sitter, whose splendid collection of prints by Lucas van Leyden testifies to his deep interest in 16th century art.